Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has far out-raised the rest of the Republican presidential field, rejected accusations by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich that he was buying the election.
Gingrich said he was being Romney-boated by a slew of negative attack ads by independent expenditure groups allied with Romney.
“If I had spent $20 mil defining Romney he’d be at 3 [percent],” Gingrich said.
Speaking to a crouching mass of reporters in the side room of an Atlantic, Iowa diner, Romney noted Gingrich had his best fundraising quarter yet.
“This is an election, however, that is not being driven by money raised, it’s being driven by message, by connection with the voters, by debates, experience,” he said. “Those are the issues that have been driving the debate so far.”
But negative ads have done more to damage Newt Gingrich than anything else in this campaign. Voters had largely overlooked and ignored his eccentricities and prior sins when they propelled him to the front of the pack in Iowa and nationally.
But a barrage of attack ads from Rep. Ron Paul and Romney’s Super PACs undoubtedly caused Gingrich’s poll collapse — especially in Iowa, where the majority of the ads have aired and he’s seen his largest declines.
As we pointed out this morning, this election has proven yet again that the conventional ways of politicking — retail and television ads — are just as important as they’ve always been.
Gingrich may just be the starkest example that the truism is holding.