Newt Gingrich accompanied by his wife, Callista, gestures during a campaign… (Evan Vucci / Associated…)
Reporting from Walford, Iowa — Casting the Iowa caucuses as a referendum on clean politics, Newt Gingrich urged Republicans today to ignore millions of dollars in attack ads and send a message by resurrecting his flagging presidential campaign.
"Send a signal we are sick of negative politics, we are sick of cynical consultants," Gingrich told a crowd of about 200 people gathered in a drafty construction maintenance shop in Walford, in east-central Iowa.
Gingrich, who briefly claimed the lead in Iowa and some national opinion surveys, has sunk over the last few weeks beneath the weight of millions of dollars in advertising that portrays him as feckless, reckless and ethically tainted. Most of the TV ads have been financed by Mitt Romney, his main rival, and allies supporting the former Massachusetts governor.
Speaking to reporters in Independence, Iowa, Gingrich acknowledged the on-air barrage has taken a steep toll ahead of Tuesday's opening vote of the 2012 presidential contest.
"I don't think I'm going to win," the former House speaker said. (A Sunday Des Moines Poll had Gingrich in fourth place in the six-candidate field.)
But Gingrich said he would do well enough to continue campaigning in the next two states on the campaign calendar, New Hampshire and South Carolina. It was a victory, he said, "that I'm still standing."
Later, in Walford, Gingrich took aim at President Obama and signals from the White House that the president has given up working with a balky Congress, passing what measures he can through executive branch powers while taking his case to voters.
Gingrich called the move unconstitutional, absurd, dangerous and emblematic of "everything that's sick about Washington."
He hoped, Gingrich said, that congressional Democrats and Republicans alike would rebel, saying the end-run on Capitol Hill was a concoction of political strategists who have taken over the White House.
"It's a little bit like having 'Saturday Night Live' writers trying to run the government," Gingrich said.
America needs a president, he said, who puts the country's problems ahead of "petty, arrogant ambitions."