DES MOINES, Iowa (CBS Washington/AP) — Mitt Romney is aggressively attacking rival Newt Gingrich as the former House speaker rises in the polls.
Romney’s campaign on Thursday was set to point out a series of issues in Gingrich’s record on a conference call with Republican former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri and former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu. In a release, the Romney campaign attacked remarks Gingrich made criticizing Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for the federal budget.
Gingrich once referred to Ryan’s plan, popular among many fiscal conservatives, as “right-wing social engineering.”
It’s a significant shift in strategy. Romney’s campaign has not previously criticized Gingrich head-on. The moves show that with Iowa’s caucuses drawing near, Romney views Gingrich as a significant threat to his chances of winning the Republican nomination.
A new nationwide Gallup poll shows Gingrich with a commanding 37 to 22 percent edge over Romney.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)