Tales from the Trail

Gingrich attacks Romney, a week after promising a positive campaign

A week ago, Newt Gingrich vowed to follow Ronald Reagan’s famed “11th Commandment” and withhold attacks on fellow Republican candidates for president.

But last night his campaign e-mail blasted reporters a lengthy opposition sheet on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, ripping Romney’s latest television ad, “Conservative Agenda.”

In the oppo sheet, the Gingrich campaign calls Romney “Mitt the Massachusetts Moderate” and highlights a number of his past, more moderate positions that may be at odds with his current stances. These include Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts, his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, his vote for Democrat Paul Tsongas in his 1992 bid for president and his renunciation of the Reagan/Bush era.

“Can we trust a Massachusetts Moderate to enact a conservative agenda?” Newt 2012 Communications Director Joe DeSantis said in a statement. “Our campaign might have plenty of things to say about that, but the best response certainly comes from Mitt Romney himself [who in 2002 told a television reporter]:

“I think people recognize that I am not a partisan Republican. That I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.”

Biden, Romney spar over economic policy

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO — Vice President Joe Biden, in his first public criticism of a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, criticized Mitt Romney’s economic policies in an opinion piece in Iowa’s biggest newspaper on Friday.

“Romney appears satisfied to settle for an economy in which fewer people succeed, while the majority of Americans are left to tread water or fall behind,” Biden wrote in the Des Moines Register, which last week endorsed Romney for the Republican nomination.

In the piece, Biden laid out his working-class background — which the Obama campaign will tout in rust-belt swing states in 2012 — and said he and Obama were champions of equal opportunity for all, not an entitlement society, as Romney alleged.

Mitt Romney, car nut

Perhaps it’s no surprise to know that Mitt Romney is a car nut.

After all, Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father, George, once ran American Motors Corporation before becoming the state’s governor and launching his own failed bid for the White House.

Romney talked about his cars at campaign stops in Lancaster and Randolph, New Hampshire – and even offered to buy a classic car.

At Lowe’s, a gas station/convenience store in Randolph, Romney gassed up his tour bus with $69.90 in diesel fuel. In the store, surrounded by photos of famous visitors to the remote North Country location, he joked with one of the owners about how he would like to buy her classic “Nash Metropolitan” car, a photo of which was pinned to the wall.

Door-knocking Romney reprises missionary days

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could be excused for having flashbacks to the 1960s when he went door to door in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Thursday.

The former Massachusetts governor worked in France as a Mormon missionary from 1966 to 1968, one of the church’s thousands of earnest young men (mostly) who knock on doors and proselytize. At that point Romney had plenty of doors slammed in his face, but on Thursday, not so much.

“This is a lot easier,” Romney quipped to Reuters. “People speak English. They wish you Merry Christmas. They don’t think you’re a salesman. People used to come to the door [in France] and wag their fingers: ‘No, I don’t want anything.’”

Romney reveals his debate card, says inheritance given away

During Rick Perry’s now infamous “oops” moment at a Republican debate last month, the Texas governor gave a panicked glance at his cue card to see if it held the name of the third agency of government he vowed to eliminate. It did not.

Today Mitt Romney told Reuters’ Steve Holland and Jim Gaines about his own debate card. Romney says he writes “Dad” on his card “just to remember a person who, if he’s able to watch, I’m sure he is.”

Romney said he also tries to remind himself not to focus his attacks in primary debates on his fellow Republicans:

New DNC ad questions Romney’s claim that “any president would have” killed bin Laden

In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Saturday, Mitt Romney said he was “delighted” that President Obama “gave the order to take out Osama bin Laden.” It was something, Romney told Wallace, “any president would have done.”

Not so, according to a new ad from the Democratic National Committee. The video compiles praise from prominent conservatives, all of whom commend Obama for bin Laden’s death.

“I worked with a lot of these guys, and this is one of the most courageous calls, decisions, that I think I’ve ever seen a president make,” says former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Ron Paul quits CNN interview after questions about racist newsletters

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul abruptly ended an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger yesterday after she asked him about racist newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s.

When Borger questioned Paul about profit he reportedly made from the newsletters, some of which contained prejudiced statements about African Americans and conspiracy theories about AIDS, Paul protested that he “never read that stuff.”

“I was probably aware of it ten years after it was written,” he said. “It’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this and CNN does it every single time. So when are you going to wear yourself out?”

Colbert’s not giving up on S.C. primary

 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has not given up on the primary in South Carolina.

The cable television talk show host tried and failed to get on the ballot to run in his home state’s primary back in 2008. This year, he has been offering to buy naming rights for the Jan. 21 primary, first by negotiating with the South Carolina Republican Party, then the state Democrats, and now by offering to have his Super PAC cover a $500,000 shortfall that South Carolina counties face in paying for the vote. 

“The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle. I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written ‘No Joke’ in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call. Both state parties have my contact info,” he wrote in an editorial in South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper on Thursday.

“Let’s put this late unpleasantness behind us and, in 2012, hold the greatest primary of all time.”

Washington Extra – A man and his dog

Here’s a modern-day twist on Harry Truman’s quip “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” If you, the president, have called John Boehner and urged him to compromise on extending the payroll tax deal by two months, then all that’s left to do is go out Christmas shopping with your dog.

That’s what President Obama did today, taking Bo, the only family member who hasn’t gone to Hawaii, to a pet store in a Virginia strip mall.

Bo made friends with a brown poodle named Cinnamon, prompting a warning from his master “Okay, Bo, don’t get too personal here.” Aw, Mr President, let the First Dog enjoy his time out in the real world.

Protesters disrupt Gingrich press conference


REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Protesters loudly interrupted Newt Gingrich twice as he accepted endorsements from Iowa and New Hampshire state party leaders at a press conference on Wednesday, clapping and chanting “put people first” before being hustled out of the room by security officers.

“He’s not welcome here in Iowa until he starts representing everyday people and hardworking families and the 99 percent,” said David Goodner, one of the protesters, of the group Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund. “We’re going to keep getting in his face until he starts changing his policies,” he said.

The protests began just as Gingrich took the podium. The candidate stopped and turned to watch as guards surrounded the protesters and pushed some of them outside.