Mitt Romney’s campaign advisers insist they’re no more scared of Newt Gingrich than the candidates who’ve surged before — but they’re already rolling out a playbook that shows they know the latest alarm isn’t a drill. …
They’ll point out Gingrich’s past policy shifts which can protect them from attacks against Romney’s own inconsistencies. They’ll highlight Gingrich’s conservative apostasies as a hedge against Romney’s own moderate views. And they’ll highlight his stable family while leaving an unspoken impression about Gingrich’s two divorces.
The plan to increase the attention to Romney’s wife of 42 years and five sons in the hopes of sparking more conversation about Gingrich’s three marriages without raising the topic themselves is one of several subtle offensives. Another is the barrage of surrogate conference calls this week that they meant in part to remind Gingrich of their massive organizational advantage if he decides to lob an attack.
Arguably, Romney got the better of Gingrich the one time the two men sparred directly in a debate — when Romney pointed out that Gingrich had, too, supported an individual mandate at one point in time — and it will be interesting to see if Romney can continue to strike successfully at Gingrich or if a better-prepared Gingrich will be able to play defense formidably.