Newt Gingrich is done with being the cuddly guy who just loves animals and blubbers openly at the mere mention of his mom. Nope, he's taking off the gloves, no longer afraid to openly display his withering opinion of his political rivals and journalists. Oh, wait, actually, that last bit's not new at all.
But what is new is his willingness to go negative on Mitt Romney: Until very lately, Gingrich mostly ran a non-negative campaign, at least officially. Like the natural-born neurotic he is, Newt even displayed some agita about his own positivity, publicly mulling over his failures. “I probably should have responded faster and more aggressively," he said at a press conference this weekend, going so far as to compare himself to the swift-boated John Kerry himself.
And so this morning on the Early Show, rather than continue to criticize himself, Gingrich went into full attack mode when Norah O'Donnell asked him to clarify comments he'd made about Romney's own negative ads ("Somebody who'll lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president.")
"Are you calling him a liar?" she asked, in tones of high drama. "Yes," he said with an actual shrug, seeming bored to be asked. She asked again, so he clarified with an extra dollop of condescension: “Well, you seem shocked by it! Which part of what I just said to you is false?" Instead of coming back with the obvious (It's not what you said that's false, but the tan with which you said it, Mr. Gingrich!), O'Donnell kept grilling him. An utterly nonplussed Gingrich said he would have no problem voting for the horrible, terrible liar Mitt Romney for president if he gets the nomination, leading Bob Schieffer to snicker eagerly like he had just heard his first Santorum-Google joke.
In about six months, the Romney campaign will be using this Gingrich endorsement in an ad.