By Jon Ericson, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDEPENDENCE — Newt Gingrich’s political opponents like to talk about how much baggage he carries in the presidential race.
But the former Speaker of the House thinks those same opponents, particularly Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, can take responsibility for some of that burden.
He said he is seen as the best debater and most knowledgeable candidate, but has been hurt by attacs on TV and in mailers.
“I’m also carrying the weight of $3.5 million in negative ads,” Gingrich said. “So we’re gradually wearing that out. I think it’s a real tribute to the people of Iowa. I’m clearly better off today than I was 10 days ago.”
Gingrich spent Monday morning in Independence at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center.
Those in attendance had seen the attack ads and claim it hadn’t changed their opinion, except perhaps of those paying for the spots.
“I don’t mind negative ads,” said Jeff Rechkemmer of Oelwein. “But don’t hide. Tell us you support the ad.”
The attack ads have been run by Super PACs, big money groups made up of anonymous donors made legal last year by Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
A crowd of more than 100 greeted Gingrich and listened to him go on the attack against Romney and President Barack Obama as the clock ticks down to the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night.
As far as Obama goes, Gingrich had harsh words for a report that the president doesn’t expect to get any legislation passed through Congress this year and will take measures on his own to try to improve the economy.
“The idea that a president of the U.S., a year before the election is going to decide I want to do it by myself is literally unthinkable, It’s not possible,” Gingrich said, then cast doubts on Obama’s knowledge of the constitution.
Gingrich also went on the offensive against Romney, calling him a moderate from Massachusetts and questioning how a moderate can draw support.
“Those who like to call him the frontrunner have to ask yourself a question — if you spend that many millions of dollars to get to 23 percent, how can you possibly think he’s the most electable candidate,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich also repeatedly praised the benefits of ethanol after a campaign season where the topic has almost never been discussed. He spoke of how he started federal ethanol incentive programs and said all the corn that goes into ethanol is produced with the results of increased corn production since 1980.
Gingrich also announced he will appear at the sole Black Hawk County Republicans caucus site Tuesday at the UNI-Dome.