John McCain Discourages Mitt Romney Surrogates From Crashing Newt Gingrich Events
LAKELAND, Fla. - Former presidential candidate and Mitt Romney supporter John McCain said he disapproves of the Romney campaign's tactic of sending surrogates to crash Gingrich events and discouraged individuals from interrupting other's campaign events.
"That's not my style," the GOP senator from Arizona said in response to a question from ABC News about Romney surrogates attending Gingrich's rallies. "I think, frankly, every candidate should have the right to hold their rallies and their campaign events without being encumbered by people who are representing other campaigns. … I would discourage people from disrupting anyone else's campaign events."
McCain noted that he was not speaking on behalf of the Romney campaign but expressing his personal opinion.
Three Romney surrogates - Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Mary Bono-Mack, R-Calif., and Connie Mack, R-Fla. - attended Gingrich events this week to offer a rebuttal of the former House speaker's message to the media. At each of the events, the surrogates were joined by Romney campaign staffers. Bay Buchanan, a conservative activist with American Cause, and Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., will be the latest Romney surrogates to attend Gingrich events today.
A source close to the Romney campaign told ABC News Thursday that they were entering a "full bracketing operation" in Gingrich territory. "The campaign is entering a phase now where we are defining the terms of the Florida race," a Romney staffer said.
At a campaign stop Thursday, Chaffetz reportedly was involved in a heated exchange with Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond over his attendance at the event. Hammond told ABC News that he plans to confront the Romney campaign surrogates at each of the events.
ABC News' Elicia Dover contributed to this report.