Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich has termed his failure to make it onto the presidential primary ballot in Virginia, the state where he lives and is leading in the polls, in pretty grandiose terms, comparing the weekend events to Pearl Harbor. That allowed rival Mitt Romney to get off a zinger on Monday as he prepared to leave the friendly confines of New Hampshire for three days of tough campaigning in Iowa.

On Saturday, Gingrich’s national campaign director Michael Krull put out a statement after his candidate was knocked off the Virginia ballot for failing to garner enough verifiable signatures from residents: “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action,” Krull said on Facebook.

Campaigning at a lobster-and-chowder shack in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Romney was asked about Gingrich’s ballot woes. “I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor. It’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory,” Romney said to laughter, evoking a classic scene from U.S. television history. The 1952 episode of “I Love Lucy” had the red-headed comedian and her BFF Ethel trying to hold down jobs at a candy factory while their husbands subbed in to do the housework. Ineptitude, and hilarity, ensues.


Mitt Romney addresses supporters during a rally held outside of Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, December 27, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

The former Massachusetts governor now flies to Iowa for three days of campaigning in his spacious Romnibus. Locked in a three-way tussle for the caucuses with Gingrich and Texas Representative Ron Paul, Romney dutifully declined to make any forecasts in a state where he has made few appearances this year but has helped unleash a torrent of negative advertising against the former U.S. House speaker.