Bruised and bloodied in Tuesday's GOP primary, runner-up Newt Gingrich is restructuring his campaign strategy to ignore Mitt Romney's taunts while attacking the front-runner's days as governor of Massachusetts.
But not before first accusing Romney of belittling the former House speaker in an uncharacteristic, but revealing, manner during the Florida primary.
"I don't now how Republicans can come away from the primary in Florida feeling good about the behavior of their so-called inevitable front-runner," said Kellyanne Conway, Gingrich's pollster.
Noting the heavy attack ads and sharp tongue of Romney on the stump, she said, "the way he behaved, relishing the ridicule, bringing a knife to the fight, all for the low price of $16 million (in advertising), is unbecoming for a guy with a button-down businessman's image."
As Team Gingrich refocuses on policy to challenge Obama, they will also raise questions about Romney's governorship of Massachusetts. They claim that the media and other candidates have given only a glancing look at Romney's four-years as governor, with the major attention on his health care plan that the president said his administration used as the model for Obamacare.
"Let's have more than a peek at the Romney record in Massachusetts," said Conway. "This man runs around saying he is a successful business man who saved the Olympic Games, which are laudable, but he has never been called to account for his record in the only elected position of voter trust that he held," she said.
Conway called Massachusetts under Romney "an incredible disaster," because he was weak early in his term on taxes and conservative social issues and ranked near the bottom in job creation among the states.
She previewed that story line: "He took his success in the business world and brought it to the government of Massachusetts, failed there, turned over the keys to Obama pal Deval Patrick, and unsuccessfully ran for president and has been running for president ever since."
She suggested that voters should take a hard look at making Romney the nominee, noting that many conservatives tried for months to recruit another candidate and when they did vote, chose others. "A majority of primary and caucus Republicans are non-Romney voters. Many of them have put a clothes pin on their nose and swallowed hard," said Conway.
Updated 9:25 a.m.:
The Romney campaign was quick to react to Gingrich's plan to focus on the Bay State.
"Mitt Romney left office with tens of thousands of new jobs in Massachusetts, a lower jobless rate than when he took office, and a rainy day fund turned from a massive budget deficit," said spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "Speaker Gingrich will say and do anything to try and revive his sinking campaign, but the fact remains that he is an unreliable, disgraced leader."