Gingrich slams ‘negative smear campaign’

Newt Gingrich (left) and Mitt Romney

OTTUMWA, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lashed out at Mitt Romney on Tuesday, accusing his chief rival of a “negative smear campaign” fueled by a political action committee with close ties to Romney.

“Understand, these are his pe

ople running his ads, doing his dirty work while he pretends to be above it,” Gingrich said after a campaign appearance in Ottumwa, Iowa. “I don’t object to being outspent. I object to lies. I object to negative smear campaigns.”

Gingrich has pledged to remain “relentlessly positive” as he campaigns for the GOP nod for the White House. He said Tuesday that he wasn’t violating that promise, but simply correcting the record.

Romney said in a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC that super PACs have been “a disaster,” but he refused to urge the group Restore Our Future to halt the attacks on Gingrich, saying that the law prohibits his campaign and such groups to coordinate.

“I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form,” Romney said. “If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”

A fired-up Gingrich read Romney’s remarks, then promptly labeled them “baloney.” He again urged Romney to demand that the negative spots be taken down.

Gingrich said Restore Our Future was created by Romney’s former staff and funded by “his personal friends.”

Gingrich’s own former top aide, Rick Tyler, has joined a pro-Gingrich PAC called Winning Our Future. The former House speaker said he would expect the PAC to adhere to his positive strategy.

“If Rick Tyler runs a single negative ad, I will disown the PAC and discourage anyone from giving them a penny,” he said.

“Now (Romney) had a very easy way to do the same thing, and for him to say he couldn’t find the people who gave that money and he couldn’t get them to put pressure on the PAC to be reasonable is just purely dishonest,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich has seen his candidacy slide in polls as a barrage of ads attacking him blanket the Iowa airwaves in advance of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses Jan. 3. He has been trying to counter the assault while still maintaining a positive campaign.