The Washington Times - January 8, 2012, 11:44AM

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign hit back at Newt Gingrich after Sunday morning’s NBC debate for the former speaker of the House’s accusation towards Mr. Romney for putting forth “pious baloney.”

Mr. Gingrich scolded Romney for going over NBC’s debate time limit saying, “I realize the red light doesn’t mean anything to you because you’re the front runner.  But— but can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?  The fact is you ran in ‘94 and lost.  That’s why you weren’t serving in the Senate with— Rick Santorum.”

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Gingrich continued with the hit saying to Romney, “The fact is you had a very bad reelection rating.  You dropped out of office.  You had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president.  You didn’t have this interlude of (UNINTEL) citizenship while you thought about what to do.  You were running for president while you were governor.”  You were gone all over the country.  You were— you were out of state consistently.”

The former House speaker did not stop there, Mr. Gingrich delved into campaign 2008 and slammed Governor Romney over his loss to Senator John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“You then promptly reentered politics.  You happened to lose to McCain as you had lost to Kennedy.  Now you’re back running.  You’ve been running consistently for years and years and years,” he said.  “So this idea that suddenly citizenship showed up in your mind, just level with the American people.  You’ve been running for— so at least since the 1990s.” 

I asked Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom about Ginrgrich’s remarks, and Mr. Fernstrom replied: 

“I thought it was ironic that Newt Gingrich as the 4th place finisher in Iowa would criticize Mitt Romney as a 1st place finisher as unelectable against Barack Obama. My own view is, if Newt Gingrich is the nominee, Barack Obama is going to have him for breakfast… or maybe breakfast at Tiffany’s”

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Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond, however, told me “I think (Gingrich) called it as he saw it. It represented itself. There, you saw Mitt Romney on the stage trying to deny the fact that he’s been trying to run for office since I was in junior high school, and then act like it’s some kind of noble effort. He’s been running for office since Cheers and the Cosby Show were still on TV.”