DES MOINES, Iowa - "Desperation" and "panic" have settled in at the Mitt Romney campaign, two of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's Iowa staffers sad today.
Linda Upmeyer, Gingrich's caucus co-chairwoman, denounced the Romney campaign for buying $3 million worth of ad buys in Iowa likely intended for negative ads against Gingrich, such as the Web video the campaign released over night. Upmeyer said Gingrich's choosing to attack only President Obama is the reason he is polling so well in Iowa.
"What we're seeing from Mitt Romney is desperation and panic and I think that's going to be very frustrating to people who want to move forward," Upmeyer said. "They don't want to see $3 million of attack ads. It's a bad way to go and he ought to reconsider that tactic. Because Iowans, we're not stupid people and we understand a load of crap when we see it. That isn't what wins you caucuses or elections here in Iowa."
Greg Ganske, Gingrich's long-time friend and supporter, scolded the Romney campaign for its recent attack email and conference call, where Gingrich was called "outrageous" and "self aggrandizing" by Romney surrogates.
"Now when Mitt Romney and his minions are going fully negative, I would have to say where has Mitt been in Iowa? He basically was going to blow this state off until the speaker rose in the polls. So now he's coming on with this huge $3 million buy attacking the speaker," Ganske said.
In South Carolina Thursday, Gingrich told ABC News he wasn't going to go negative with Romney. "I'm going to stay positive. I'm going to talk about how we solve the country's problems. And I have one opponent, Barack Obama, and that's how our campaign is going to keep moving forward. Others are allowed to do what they want to do," Gingrich said.
Although the Romney campaign has invested time and money in attack ads focused at Gingrich this week, Gingrich hasn't stayed above the fray, exactly. He called Romney "stubborn" Wednesday on CNN for continuing to back his health care policies in Massachusetts.
Gingrich also took one of the first swipes at Romney on Charleston, S.C., radio a couple of weeks ago, saying he was "a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney."
The show host told Gingrich some voters have a problem with Romney because he is "way too eager" and asked Gingrich if there was anything he wouldn't do to become president. Gingrich threw a subtle blow in Romney's direction over his "flip-flops."
"Sure, there's lots of things I wouldn't do to become president." Gingrich said. "It's wrong to go around and adopt radically different positions based on your need of any one electorate because then people have to ask themselves, what will you tell me next time?"
On today's call, Ganske also blasted Romney for allowing former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu to make remarks about Gingrich that he said have been "pretty caustic."
"Romney says he can't control former Gov. Sununu and his remarks," Ganske said. "Well, my question would be if he can't control a subordinate in his campaign, what does that say about his ability to be president and control his subordinates in the White House?"
Sununu was on the "Scott Hennen Show" today where he said Gingrich has a "congenital problem." Sununu also said of Gingrich, "His mind isn't so hot and his discipline and commitment are terrible."
Gingrich and Romney will join the other GOP presidential candidates Saturday night in the ABC News debate in Des Moines at 9 p.m. ET.