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Mitt Romney waves off Gingrich's negative ad complaint

December 21, 2011|By Maeve Reston
(AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh )

Reporting from Keene, N.H. — Finding himself in a more comfortable spot in the race for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney campaigned in New Hampshire Tuesday where he lamented the breakdown in negotiations over the 2012 payroll tax break and waved off Newt Gingrich’s complaints about negative independent ads that are being run by Romney’s supporters.

After chatting with several undecided voters and supporters in a crowded restaurant in Keene, Romney told reporters that if he had been president during the negotiations over the payroll tax extension, he would have worked more directly with leaders of both parties but declined an opportunity to criticize the handling of the matter by House Republican leaders.

“There is common ground that can be reached in this matter,” said Romney, who unlike some of his rivals supports the extension of the payroll tax holiday. “This should have been dealt with some time ago.”

“I’m not going to get into the back and forth on the congressional sausage-making process, I hope they are able to sit down and work out a solution that works for the American people. Romney added that while he didn’t think the extension would dramatically alter the economy, it would “help a lot of people in tough times.”

On the first stop of his three-day bus tour, Romney dismissed rival Gingrich’s criticisms of the tone of independent ads on his behalf.

“If you can’t stand the relatively modest heat in the kitchen right now wait until Obama’s hells kitchen shows up,” Romney said. “I would love to be able to coordinate, to manage what the PAC says and to run its ads and tell them what to do and what not to do. I’m not allowed to do that… But I can say that I understand that’s going to be coming my way.”

The former Massachusetts governor suggested that the vetting of GOP candidates was productive – in the sense that it would air any problems with the contenders before they face Obama next year.

“It’s probably a good thing for us to get this out in the air right now so people can have the chance to know what's going to come down the road if any one of us happens to become the nominee,” he said.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

Twitter: @maevereston

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