The Corner

Gingrich on Romney’s Character: ‘It Is a Very Serious Problem’

ABC News reports on Newt Gingrich’s appearance on The Week this morning:

Gingrich said Romney has run a “campaign of vilification” that is based on “factually false” claims and “carpet-bombing with negative ads.” When I asked the former speaker if Romney had the character to be president, Gingrich said “it is a very serious problem.”

“You cannot be president of the United States if you cannot be honest and candid with the American people,” Gingrich told me.

Romney dominated Thursday’s debate and devoted a hefty chunk of the two-hour event to attacking Gingrich’s immigration stance, the work he did for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, and the ethics investigation of Gingrich while he was in the House.

On Sunday, Gingrich said such attacks were “blatantly dishonest” and based on “totally phony history, which [Romney] maniacally continues to repeat.”

“I’m standing next to a guy who is the most blatantly dishonest answers I can remember in any presidential race in — in my lifetime,” Gingrich said. “I don’t know how you debate a person with civility if they’re prepared to say things that are just plain factually false.”

The Romney campaign has fired back with a series of statements. “I thought I had heard it all from Newt Gingrich, but for him to question the character of Mitt Romney is over the line,” said Tim Pawlenty in his statement. “I have spent a lot of time with Mitt Romney, and I can tell you with zero hesitation that he is a man of flawless character.”

“I was very disappointed to hear Speaker Gingrich make comments today that impugned Governor Romney’s character through attacks on his business record, his record of public service, and now on his personal integrity,” said Virginia governor Bob McDonnell in a statement. “I know Mitt and Ann well. They are people of great faith and the highest character and have raised five wonderful children over their 42 years of marriage. Mitt Romney’s moral fitness for office is beyond reproach and is a major reason that I am so pleased to support his campaign.”

“Newt Gingrich is so desperate to prop up his sinking campaign that his message has devolved into a character assassination of Mitt Romney,” said Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz in a statement.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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