Entries in Romney (11)


Romney Camp Evasive on Convention ‘Mystery Speaker’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- On a conference call this morning, two consecutive reporters pressed senior Mitt Romney adviser Russ Schriefer on why the campaign won’t reveal its so-called mystery speaker in Thursday night’s convention lineup. Fox has reported that according to a GOP source, it will be Clint Eastwood.

Schriefer’s response: “Because if it was a mystery speaker, it wouldn’t be a mystery anymore.”

That’s all Schriefer would say, declining to even confirm whether or not any “mystery speaker” would indeed speak.

Speculation has swirled around the appearance of a mystery speaker at the GOP convention late in the program tonight. The lineup is slated to include speeches from Newt and Callista Gingrich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Romney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Says Obama Lawsuit Blocks Ohio Military Voters

(WASHINGTON) -- A new flap in the ongoing battle on voting equality began this week when Mitt Romney accused President Obama’s re-election committee of suing to restrict military voting rights in Ohio. And while Romney did not address the issue campaigning in Indiana Saturday, he called the lawsuit “an outrage” in a written statement

“The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote,” it reads. “I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters.”

Republicans say a lawsuit brought by Obama for America in July seeks to eliminate additional time for in-person early voting allotted to service members in the battleground state. Democrats, on the other hand, contend the presumptive GOP nominee is deliberately trying to distort the facts.

“Mitt Romney is falsely accusing the Obama campaign of trying to restrict military voting in Ohio,” a Friday statement said. “In fact, the opposite is true: The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan has early voting rights, including military members and their families.”

A series of laws passed in the past year by Ohio’s Republican state legislature and Gov. John Kasich have waived the last three days of in-person early voting before Election Day for all but members of the military. Civilians now have until Friday, Nov. 2, to cast those ballots and must arrive at the booth before 6 p.m.

Republicans faulted the extra time for civilians as too costly for local governments and prone to fraud and abuse. Meanwhile, service members were exempt from the restrictions, allowing them to vote at any time before polls close, an extra three days without restrictions.

As previously reported by ABC News, the Obama campaign sued the Buckeye State last month to block those laws from taking effect, restoring weekend voting as it was in 2008. Democrats say those last days before Nov. 6 give a crucial extra cushion for Americans who might not have had the opportunity to enter the voting booth in the days prior.  If the challenge is successful, they say, military voters would not see any difference in their rights.

The Obama campaign maintains the two-tiered privilege system violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In most states, men and women in uniform are given extra time to mail in absentee ballots, given that they might be serving in posts far from their homes.

The stakes of Obama for America v. Husted are clear. Obama narrowly won Ohio with 51.4 percent of its electorate and its 18 electoral votes remain hotly contested this year. Additionally, 30 percent of Ohio’s turnout cast their ballots early in 2008, according to a non-partisan voter advocacy group. This includes 93,000 votes in those last three days before the election.

Neither campaign had responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama ‘Won’t Be Apologizing’ for Bain Attacks on Romney

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republicans continue to call on President Obama and his campaign to give an apology for questioning Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital. They won’t be getting one.

“No, we won’t be apologizing,” the president said in an interview aired on Sunday. “Sometimes these games are played during political campaigns. Understand what the issues are here: Mr. Romney claims he’s Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience.”

Speaking to NBC’s Richmond, Va., affiliate station, WAVY-TV, Obama invoked a past White House occupant in an argument he has used for days on the campaign trail.

“Harry Truman said ‘the buck stops with me,’ and I think understandably people are going to be interested in, are you in fact responsible for this company you say is one of your primary calling cards for your wanting to be President,” he said.

On Thursday an Obama campaign manager upped the ante on Romney’s final days at Bain Capital by suggesting the Republican candidate had either lied to the public or misrepresented “his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony,” by saying he had left the company in 1999. Romney gave five network interviews to defend himself, stating the Obama campaign had gone “out of control.”

That spokeswoman doubled down on the attack on Sunday by stating there was no point in “arguing the semantics” of whether he was officially active at the firm during the time.

“If you’re signing an SEC document with your own signature that you’re the president, C.E.O., chairman of the board and 100 percent owner of a company, in what world are you living in that you’re not in charge?” Stephanie Cutter said on CBS.

On ABC’s “This Week,” former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel put it another way:

“As president of the United States you can’t have a sign on your desk that says, ‘Gone fishing,’” the Chicago mayor said.

Emanuel and Cutter had come to represent the Democratic side in the row at the heart of the issue: Whether Romney could be held responsible for layoffs and outsourcing at Bain properties after he supposedly left to manage the U.S. Olympic Committee.

On the other side of the table: Romney adviser Kevin Madden.

“The reason there is a document in 2002 that had his signature is, during that transition from 1999 to 2002 where there was transfer of ownership to the new partners of Bain, that there was a duty to sign those documents,” Madden said. “Even a bipartisan commission indicated Governor Romney left Bain in 1999.”

It is a fact that Romney remained at the company until at least 2002, according to SEC filings obtained by the Boston Globe. But some independent fact checking organizations have criticized the reporting of Romney’s role at the time, stating there was no evidence to say he took part in any decision-making processes.

Republicans have seized on those articles, demanding an apology from the Obama campaign. Madden repeated the call, but Cutter maintained it was out of the question.

“Instead of whining about what the Obama campaign is saying, just put the facts out there and let people decide, rather than trying to hide them,” she said.

Cutter and Emanuel both referenced Romney’s refusal to release any tax returns dating before 2010, which would shed light onto the nature of overseas holdings the candidate possessed.

“You’ve learned in just one year about the Caymans, about the Bahamas, about Luxembourg, and about Switzerland, all where his tax and different accounts are,” Emanuel said. “His tax — his tax filing looks more like the Olympic Village than it does like a middle-class family.”

Madden said Romney had “gone above and beyond” financial disclosure laws required of candidates, releasing “hundreds and hundreds of pages of financial disclosures with the FEC.”

On CNN, another Romney surrogate, Ed Gillepsie, said the candidate’s departure for the Olympics was originally planned as a “leave of absence.”

“He ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result,” Gillepsie said.

“Ed Gillepsie” and “#retroactively” reached top 10 positions on Twitter shortly after the statement was made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republican Governors’ Message To Mitt Romney: Don’t Let Obama Lead You Down The ‘Rabbit Hole’

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(WILLIAMSBURG, Va.) — Fresh off his win in Wisconsin’s divisive recall election, GOP Gov. Scott Walker was full of advice for Mitt Romney.

“We had significant swing votes — independents, even some discerning Democrats voting for me because they like someone who was willing to take on the tough issues facing our state,” Walker said. “I think those same sorts of voters are voters that Governor Romney at least has a shot with.”

But Walker, who was among the dozens of governors who gathered at this weekend’s National Governors Association Conference in central Virginia, warned that a win in his Midwestern battleground would not be a slam dunk for Romney.

“Coming into Wisconsin, coming into Iowa, coming into other states like that, for him to do well the ‘R’ next to his name has to stand more than just for ‘Republican’ — it has to stand for reformer,” Walker said, adding: “If people view him as a reformer, willing to take on both the economic and fiscal crisis our nation faces, I think voters in swing states like Wisconsin will listen.”

When asked why voters in his state do not already view Romney as a reformer, Walker told reporters: “I think they don’t see a lot right now. I think they need to see more of him.”

“They’d also like to hear what he’s going to do to tackle the fiscal crisis our country’s facing,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “The more times he comes to Wisconsin, the more times he comes to swing states like ours and lays that message out the better off we’ll be.”

Walker was one of several Republican governors who dispensed advice for his party’s presidential standard-bearer this weekend. He encouraged Romney to “be most aggressive about” pointing out that President Obama “doesn’t have a record to run on.”

“If I’m Governor Romney,” Walker said, “I keep coming back to saying, ‘Mr. President, defend your record and lay out what you’re going to do for the future’ and keep coming back to what I think most people want to hear, which is, what are you going to do?”

But after a week when the vitriol of the presidential race spiked as both sides accused the other of peddling lies and distortions, another swing-state governor, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, cautioned Romney not to let the Obama campaign set the terms of the debate.

“Mitt Romney can’t — he’s not going to — respond to every single lame attack that the Obama administration makes,” McDonnell said in interview with ABC News. “If he starts to run down every rabbit hole the Obama administration wants to take him, we’re going to be off the message.”

McDonnell, whose state is likely to see some of the most intense trench warfare of the campaign, predicted that “voters are going to vote — especially the independents – -they’re going to vote on jobs, on spending, on energy and leadership.”

In May, McDonnell conceded that Obama’s team had a better campaign infrastructure in place in Virginia than Romney.

“The ground game’s not there yet,” McDonnell said in an editorial board meeting with the Washington Examiner.

Two months later, McDonnell, who runs a state that then candidate Barack Obama won by about six percentage points four years ago, said he’s seen a vast improvement.

“We’re there,” McDonnell said of the Romney campaign’s organization in Virginia. “Mitt Romney’s personally made a commitment to come to Virginia on multiple occasions. You’ve seen him here on regular occasions. We’ve got great surrogates that are out there speaking for him, so we will not be outmatched on the ground or on the air.”

But in the part of the state where this weekend’s gathering of governors took place, television ads from both sides were already blanketing the airwaves. In new ads, the Obama campaign has been turning up the volume on their attacks on Romney’s record at Bain Capital as well as his offshore investments.

“All these attacks by the president and his campaign really, I think, speak volumes to the lack of leadership on the part of Obama,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said in an interview. ”I guess that is what I find amazing.”

In his state — another important battleground — Branstad said the Romney campaign was “doing really well considering the fact that Obama carried Iowa by a pretty substantial margin last time. The polls show they’re basically dead even.”

But at least one Republican governor expressed concern that Romney needed to do more to avoid the “distractions” caused by his opponent’s calls for him to release additional years of his tax returns.

In comments that drew instant attention, Gov. Robert Bentley, R-Ala., said on Saturday that Romney would be wise to “get them out and just get past that.”

“They’re doing everything they can to hurt Governor Romney and tax returns will be one of those things,” Bentley told ABC News. “So the best thing to do is just get everything out in the open and just say, ‘hey I have nothing to hide and I’m going to release my tax returns.’”

Branstad disagreed: “You’ll never quiet those people that are attacking,” he said.

So did Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has emerged as one of country’s most controversial governors for her advocacy of the state’s tough immigration law.

“I think this is just a distraction that the Obama campaign is throwing out there,” she said. “I think Governor Romney has proven his worth. He is honest and he is upright and he has been successful.”

Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., also dismissed this week’s attacks from the Obama campaign as “negative petty stuff” and advised Romney to offer voters “reassurance that he’s got the leadership talent” to be the next president.

“Campaigns can be very negative and ugly,” Fallin said in an interview with ABC News, and the key for Romney, she said, is “keeping focused on the main thing and that is families, their pocketbooks, economic issues.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Campaign Defends Rhetoric; Continues Push on Mitt Romney Accounts

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- Obama Campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki on Saturday defended using rhetoric that includes words like “felony” when talking about Mitt Romney.

“Of course the President wants to have a highbrow debate about these policy issues and what the American people actually care about,” Psaki said. “What was said was either [Romney] was misleading the American people, or he was misleading the SEC, which it would be a felony. Nobody — she, Stephanie Cutter did not accuse anybody of taking — of committing a felony. She raised the issue that you can’t have both,” Psaki said, referring to Deputy Campaign Manager Cutter’s comments earlier this week.

“We know that Mitt Romney is leading with his business credentials as his top qualification for being President. And we think that it’s completely justified to raise questions … about why he had an account in Switzerland, why he had investments in the Cayman Islands, what exactly this corporation was in Bermuda,” she continued. “The evidence is mounting. And that’s really what we should be talking about. What is — where are Mitt Romney’s investments? What is the truth? Why can’t we have more details?”

When a reporter pressed: “But that doesn’t define a highbrow debate, does it?’

Psaki replied, “Those are raising questions about the qualifications he is putting forward of why he should be president.”

Psaki made the remarks to reporters traveling on Air Force One to Richmond, Va., where President Obama continued his two day campaign swing through the battleground state.

She also used a laptop to screen the Obama campaigns latest web ad for the handful of press traveling on the president’s plane.

The ad, titled “Mitt Romney Asking For Apologies While Launching Attacks,” calls out Romney for attacking Obama – and uses Newt Gingrich attacking Mitt Romney. Psaki said the web ad would be spread by social media.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took one question on Syria and reported that UN staff were blocked from rescuing civilians by Bashar al-Assad’s government forces.

Carney said he couldn’t confirm the report but added: “It’s just another indication of how, no matter what he says and no matter what promises he makes, we have to see what he does and judge him by his actions, and thus far his actions have been revolting and heinous. And it’s just another indication of why the international community needs to unify behind the proposition that a transition in Syria needs to take place without Assad in power.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney, Supporters Headed to Fundraiser at Cheney’s Wyoming Retreat

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney is heading to Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Thursday for a fundraiser hosted by a former VP, Dick Cheney (and wife Lynn). It’s the first time Gov. Romney and the former vice president will appear together in public.

Like any fundraiser, there are different levels for donors and therefore access to the presumptive GOP nominee, as well as Cheney. The main event is at the beautiful Teton Pines Country Club, with its sweeping views of the Teton Mountains. The minimum donation for the general reception is $2,500 per person. For those who donate $50,000 or $100,000 per couple, they will not only get to have dinner with Cheney and Romney but are also invited to the host committee reception and will become a Founding Member of Romney Victory. For $5,000 each, an attendee is invited to a photo reception with the two. For those who’d like dinner, that’s $30,000 apiece, $60,000 per couple.

The Cheneys aren’t the only hosts: Cheney friends Dick and Maggie Scarlett and Allan and Frances Tessler. Dick Scarlett is chairman and CEO of United Bancorporation of Wyoming. Allan Tessler is the former CEO of Data Broadcasting Corporation as well as a venture capitalist. Cheney’s daughter Liz will also attend, as will Bob Grady, a venture capitalist and investment banker based in Jackson Hole.

Other notable attendees are Lynn Friess and Steve Friess, wife and son of former mutual fund manager Foster Friess, who bankrolled Rick Santorum’s superPAC during the primary, The Red, White, and Blue Fund. Despite being a Jackson Hole resident, the Friesses are not hosting the event and Foster cannot attend because he’s traveling to the East Coast, according to his spokesperson Matthew Taylor.

This should not be interpreted as not supporting the presumptive GOP nominee, though.  Taylor said the Friesses have maxed out the federal election contribution amount to the joint Romney-RNC Victory Fund, $75,000 each. That’s not all: Taylor also told ABC News Friess made a six-figure contribution to the pro-Romney superPAC Restore our Future last month. Taylor would not narrow down the amount from six figures. The Federal Election Committee filing will reveal the full amount later this month.

The Romney campaign beat the Obama campaign in fundraising for the second month in a row last month, besting them by $35 million. Romney raised $106 million in June to Obama’s $71 million; Obama has had a schedule filled with fundraisers as well as the countdown to November continues.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Camp Hits Obama on Defense Cuts Made by Congressional Deal

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Romney campaign blasted the president Thursday for looming cuts to defense spending. Some of the cuts are required by last summer’s congressional deal to cut spending in exchange for increasing the federal debt ceiling.

The blast happened on a Romney campaign conference call this morning meant to “welcome” President Obama to Virginia when he visits the state on Friday. Campaign surrogate and former Missouri Senator Jim Talent was joined by Virginia representative J. Randy Forbes and former Navy secretary John Lehman in taking the president to task for cuts to defense and explaining how that will hurt Virginia. Talent called the cuts, set in motion by Congress’s failure to strike a bipartisan deal during the Supercommittee’s deficit reduction negotiations, the “most irresponsible thing a commander-in-chief has done.”

The cuts are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt limit. House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any increase to the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings. Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement where a “Supercommittee” would negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration (ie, automatic cuts). After the committee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with the sequestration.

The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have warned what the cuts would mean for the military, but Romney has also hit the president over the cuts on the campaign trail. The cuts would mean about $500 billion to defense and about $500 billion to entitlements or social programs.

Forbes said the president will visit Virginia tomorrow with a “huge box of pink slips” for defense contractors and military personnel in the state.

Lehman said he’s been in the service since 1964 and never seen anything “quite as irresponsible,” adding he doesn’t think the president did it out of “malice, necessarily.”

“The president doesn’t understand defense, doesn’t understand how it works,” Lehman said.

When Talent was asked about Congress’ approving the measures and setting the process in motion, he again blamed the president.

“I can just tell you that the president is the commander-in-chief and Congress takes its lead from him,” Talent said.

Forbes added that he did not vote for the cuts and they will be, “catastrophic to the national security, catastrophic to the economic security."

Talent was also asked if Romney has been “sufficiently transparent” with his financial disclosures as well as his “personal holdings and assets” or if should release additional tax returns as Democrats are calling him to.

Talent calling Team Obama hammering the issue a distraction and “desperate.”

“I think at a time when the nation’s suffering through unemployment above 8 percent for longer than since the Great Depression -- and would be higher than that if it were not for all the people who just got so discouraged that they just quit looking for work -- this attempt at the White House to shift attention from the real issues of the campaign is getting to the point of being desperate,” Talent said. “Gov. Romney has released his 2010 tax returns, his estimate for 2011. He will release the rest of it when it’s available and he’s going to continue to talk about the issues that matter to the American people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Majority of Wisconsin Voters Believe Romney Will Be GOP Nominee

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A broad sense of inevitability carried Mitt Romney into the Republican presidential primary in Wisconsin Tuesday, with preliminary exit poll results indicating that, whatever their preference, eight in 10 voters expect him to become their party’s eventual nominee.

Romney’s hopes in Wisconsin also are being boosted by less of a strong emphasis by voters on selecting a candidate who shares their religious beliefs. And a majority picks either electability in November or “the right experience” as the candidate attribute of chief concern, both winning qualities for Romney to date.

Still, nearly half the state’s voters describe Romney as “not conservative enough,” a possible opening for Santorum as he seeks a Northern win after thumping Romney in Louisiana on March 24.

But it’s a very different electorate from the Southern states in which Santorum’s done well. Fewer than four in 10 voters either in Maryland or Wisconsin Tuesday describe themselves as evangelicals, compared with 61 percent in Louisiana and an average of 53 percent in all GOP primaries to date. Three in 10 in Wisconsin and Maryland alike say they’re very conservative; in Louisiana, that was 49 percent.

At the same time, preliminary results indicate an influx of independent voters in Wisconsin -- three in 10 call themselves independents, compared with 23 percent in the state’s primary in 2008. That’s a group that may be less impressed by Romney’s position as the party’s establishment candidate. Additionally, one in 10 in the state’s open primary say they’re Democrats.

In one question not asked previously, Romney and Santorum run about evenly in trust among Wisconsin voters to handle health care policy -- another opportunity for Santorum, yet also a competitive showing for Romney given his vulnerability on the issue among voters critical of the mandatory coverage law he signed as governor of Massachusetts.

Voters in Maryland, meanwhile, are marked by their education and incomes. A quarter report having done post-graduate study, second only to Virginia this year. And nearly half report household incomes of $100,000 or more, the most in any state to date in which exit polls have been conducted, and in the past an especially strong group for Romney. And about half of voters in Maryland call Romney neither too liberal nor too conservative but “about right” ideologically, his best showing to date in states in which this question’s been asked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum: Huntsman’s Backing Romney Would Be ‘Moderates Backing Moderates’

ABC News(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Standing around breakfast patrons at an early-morning campaign stop here, Rick Santorum said Monday he expected opponent Jon Huntsman to exit the race for the GOP nomination and back front-runner Mitt Romney.

Santorum, asked about the scheduled announcement from Huntsman, said any partnership between the formerly fierce rivals is just “moderates backing moderates, that’s the bottom line.”

“It’s no surprise. Gov. Huntsman ran as a moderate trying to compete with Gov. Romney for the establishment moderate vote,” Santorum told reporters. “Gov. Romney had a leg up on him as being a solid moderate that the establishment could get behind and Gov. Huntsman wasn’t able to crack through that. I’m not surprised at that at all and I anticipated that actually sooner than today.”

At the famous Lizard’s Thicket, a frequent stop for presidential candidate, Santorum was asked if this now means there is more pressure for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to get out of the race. He did not call for his rival to get out, saying two days ago that we would not, but he did say that “it’s important that we eventually consolidate this race.”

“To the extent that can happen through the voting process, look at it this way, we’ve had two contests already. I’ve been the leading conservative in both of those contests. In Iowa, I finished ahead of Gingrich and Perry by double digits and then in New Hampshire I finished ahead of congressman Gingrich,” Santorum said.

He said it’s up to South Carolina voters to decide whether Perry should get out of the race, but said he – not Newt Gingrich – is the most electable, despite what Gingrich says on the trail, adding, “it’s not just about coalescing behind the conservative, it’s coalescing around the conservative that can win.”

“He spent an enormous amount of money in those states, had endorsements of major papers and yet I was able to win in both of those states spending almost no money with no major endorsements from key papers like the Manchester Union Leader,” Santorum said, referring to the paper’s backing Gingrich.  ”So I think if you are looking at who’s the candidate that we can coalesce, that if given the proper resources and the ability to go against Gov. Romney head to head, there are polls in Florida and I think in North Carolina that show in a head-to-head contest, it’s not even close.

“I beat Gov. Romney very clearly and that’s not the case with the other candidates so if you are looking for someone who can take on not only Gov. Romney but can also take on President Obama again in these very key swing states, we run better than anybody against President Obama.”

He added that he believes, despite his virtual tie with Romney in Iowa and the media crush before it and afterward, he still has lower name recognition, meaning he has an “upside potential to go from there and that creates more of an opportunity to be successful.”

Santorum has a packed day today with campaign stops in Myrtle Beach and ends the day with the Fox News debate, also in the famous vacation town.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republicans Set To Square Off In Pivotal Iowa Debate

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Only three weeks from the Iowa caucuses, the top Republican candidates will square off Saturday night at a pivotal debate in the state capital. The debate, hosted by ABC News and moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, starts at 9 p.m. ET, live from Drake University.

The prime-time debate comes as the GOP race has started to reach a boiling point. With Newt Gingrich surging to the top of the pack, former front-runner Mitt Romney has launched scathing attacks from all sides, from his key surrogates to a political action committee that, while not affiliated with the campaign, is funded by many Romney donors.

The ad accuses Gingrich of ”flip flopping” on a slew of issues and claims that Democrats are hoping that the former House Speaker -- rather than Romney -- secures the Republican nomination.

With a picture of President Obama on the screen, the ad asks, “Why is this man smiling?” The answer: “Because his plan is working,” the ad’s narrator says. “Brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent.”

Romney is not alone by any means in attacking Gingrich. Michele Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll in August but has since faded, dubbed Gingrich “a poster child for crony capitalism” and “the ultimate consummate influence peddler.” Ron Paul, who finished a close second to Bachmann at the Ames event, has unveiled slick web videos going after Gingrich. Jon Huntsman, who is not competing here in Iowa, called Gingrich a product of Washington “who participated in the excesses of our broken and polarized political system.”

The flurry of attacks should come as no surprise to Gingrich: It’s what happens when you’re on top. Every poll released this week seemed to bring better and better news for Gingrich. An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Gingrich in the lead with 33 percent support in Iowa, followed by Romney and Paul tied at 18 percent. In two other key early states — South Carolina and Florida — Gingrich also holds impressive leads of 23 percent, according to the most recent CNN-Time magazine polls. In addition, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Gingrich “cuts sharply into President Barack Obama’s general election lead should he win the GOP nomination.”

It’s all leading up to a fascinating — and potentially explosive — debate come Saturday night: There’s the newfound clarity of the race, with the upstart Gingrich at the top, followed by Romney, with much more money and much stronger organization. There’s the increasing intensity, as attacks come fast and furious from all sides. There’s the unpredictability of the race, from Rick Perry to Herman Cain, as various candidates have surged to the front only to fall back into the pack. And don’t forget the looming caucuses: Iowans vote on Jan. 3.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio