As Romney Takes Aim, Gingrich's Super PAC to the Rescue

The Christmas truce is over.

Mitt Romney mocked rival Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire today for failing to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot in Virginia by comparing the debacle to the infamous "I Love Lucy" chocolate factory scene.

"I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor. I think it's more like Lucille Ball and the chocolate factory," Romney said of Gingrich at a campaign event in Portsmouth.  "He needs to get his act together."

In an embarrassing turn of events this weekend, the Virginia Republican Party said Gingrich's campaign had failed to gather the 10,000 signatures required to qualify for his adopted home state's ballot.

But Gingrich showed no signs today of slowing down in Iowa

The former House speaker fired up his campaign bus while his super PAC fired back at Romney, unveiling a new ad labeling the former Massachusetts governor as a member of the "liberal Republican establishment."

"Don't let the liberal Republican establishment pick our candidate," the ad says. "On the airwaves, we're seeing a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde campaign. Dr. Jekyll Romney, for example, plays nice with ads paid for by his own campaign while Mr. Hyde Romney savages Newt Gingrich with ads paid for by the supposedly independent Romney Super PAC."

If Romney exhibits qualities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he's not alone.

Any candidate worth his salt these days has a split personality:  The ads run by the candidates themselves are almost always positive, leaving the dirty work of nastier attack ads to the outside groups supporting their campaigns: so-called super PACs.

These outside groups are flush with cash because, unlike the campaigns, there are no limits on how much money people can give them. The Pro-Romney super PAC, for example, has spent almost twice as much on television ads as the Romney campaign.

And while the candidates claim they have no real influence over their super PACs, the groups don't look independent.

Romney's super PAC, for example, is run by his former top lawyer, with much of the money coming from his colleagues at Bain Capital. Rick Perry's super PAC is run by his former chief of staff.

The candidates now have seven days to make their case to Iowans before next Tuesday's caucuses.