Restore Our Future, a political action committee backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) presidential campaign, has chipped away at GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich’s lead in the polls by running ads declaring that Gingrich has too much “baggage” to be the GOP nominee. The super PAC plans to spend at least $1.4 million more in the next two weeks, much of it in an effort to discredit Gingrich and push Romney across the finish line in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.
Gingrich, none too pleased by the negative attacks, took a veiled swipe at Romney yesterday, telling reporters, “If you see Romney, tell him to take (the ads) off the air.” But when the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe asked Romney about the ads this morning, he feigned ignorance, saying election laws wouldn’t allow him to coordinate with Restore Our Future, and decrying the change in campaign finance law that brought about the dominance of super PACs in the election process:
ROMNEY: Super PACs have to be entirely separate from candidates or a campaign. [...] This is a strange thing in these campaign finance laws. They set up these new entities, which I think is a disaster, by the way. Campaign finance law has made a mockery of our political campaign season. We really ought to let campaigns raise the money they need and just get rid of these super PACs.
Romney’s opposition to super PACs isn’t brand new — he opposed such corporate influence during his 1994 campaign. But even as he decries their involvement, his campaign and Restore Our Future have had a mutually beneficial relationship throughout the early part of the 2012 election cycle. Romney, in fact, has exploited a loophole in federal law that allowed him to appear at multiple fundraisers for Restore Our Future, including a July 19 event in New York where about two dozen supporters were present. And in August, the Romney’s top fundraiser, Steve Roche, left the campaign to raise money for Restore Our Future.
The Gingrich campaign, meanwhile, didn’t buy Romney’s new-found abhorrence for super PACs. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman, Gingrich spokesperson RC Hammond responded to Romney’s Morning Joe dodge by saying, “He’s either a lying politician or a piece of sh-t.”