YORK: And we've also seen that negative ads really do work. I mean, Gingrich was at 25 percent in the last Des Moines Register poll. He's at 12 percent now, biggest fall of anybody. And these -- these ads that were run by Mitt Romney's super PAC and also by Ron Paul -- the Ron Paul ad was just devastating. You could not be in Des Moines or anywhere in Iowa, listen to the radio, watch television, and not see an ad bashing Newt Gingrich.
TAPPER: And -- and this is just not anecdotal. Half the ads in Iowa, according to the campaign Media Analysis Group, half the ads in Iowa had a Gingrich focus.
YORK: Of all the TV ads.
TAPPER: And the vast majority were negative; 45 percent of the ads aired in Iowa were anti-Newt Gingrich. Can anybody withstand that kind of negativity?
DOWD: Well, they only can withstand it -- the reason why I think they were so effective on Newt Gingrich is because they were true. And they were -- here's a guy that arrived with a tremendous amount of baggage, a tremendous amount of stuff that people were sort of - like I liked how he was impressive in debate. As soon as they started hearing here's a creature of Washington, I don't think it has a lot to do with his three marriages. I think it has a lot to do with this guy is a total creature of Washington.
ROBINSON: But this is their problem with Romney. If you look at the Romney super PAC ads, what are they beating Newt Gingrich up on? That he's a flip-flopper and that he supported a health care mandate. So I think going down past Iowa, is Romney's super PAC giving other candidates kind of the key to attacking Romney?
YORK: Well, but that raises the question: Where have been the anti-Romney ads? I mean, he's got a whole trunk load of baggage, with the...
YORK: ... with Romneycare. Well, Rick Perry could have run some. I mean, I asked him yesterday, why haven't you guys attacked Mitt Romney? And they said, well, we're fighting. They essentially say -- they don't say it -- they say we're fighting for second place. We're trying to...
TAPPER: They're trying to be the anti-Romney.
YORK: Exactly. We're fighting among the conservatives. But in the meantime, they're not attacking Mitt Romney the way Newt Gingrich...
DOWD: I totally agree with that. I think that they're strategically -- the non-Romney folks have made a strategic mistake by not contrasting themselves with Mitt Romney. If they wanted to be the non-Romney, they should have gone after Mitt Romney. Michele Bachmann should have gone after Mitt Romney. Rick Perry should have gone after -- Newt Gingrich should have gone -- one of them should have said, no, I'm not going to go after the other conservatives. I'm going to go after Mitt Romney. And I think they would have positioned themselves much better, I agree. TANDEN: But this is -- this is the total irony of this race, which is Newt Gingrich, who has had a long record of negativity, one could say, decided in the last month to be a completely passive, positive candidate. I think that will change dramatically. He's already telling people he's going to probably go more negative. We're going to have a debate this Saturday. And you'll see, I think...
TAPPER: I think he's -- I think he's putting it -- I think he's saying he will tell the truth. I don't think he's saying -- I don't think he's saying I'm going to go negative