Axelrod Calls Gingrich ‘Godfather of Gridlock’

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama’s re-election campaign has for months maintained a singular focus on Mitt Romney as the presumed Republican presidential nominee and most formidable foe to Obama in 2012.

But today senior Obama strategist David Axelrod widened the scope of the campaign’s pre-primary attacks, taking a first direct shot at Newt Gingrich, who has surged ahead in the polls and launched a first TV ad in Iowa.

“I was amused by the Newt Gingrich ad, by the way, because he talked about he’s going to bring the country together to solve problems,” Axelrod said in an appearance on “Daily Rundown.”

“You’re talking about the godfather of gridlock here – the guy who two decades ago really invented the kind of tactics that have become commonplace in Washington. So, this is a whole new Newt.”

Axelrod was alluding to two federal government shutdowns that occurred in 1995 and 1996 — when Gingrich was speaker of the House – stemming from sharp disagreements between congressional Democrats and President Bill Clinton.

Asked whether the new line of messaging is the Obama case against Gingrich, Axelrod said: “I think it may be the public’s case against him. I don’t think people want to go back to that.”