- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A super-PAC supporting Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich spent $40,000 attacking rival Mitt Romney by sending mailers about the former Massachusetts governor to Iowa voters the week before the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, according to filings Tuesday.

The mailings from Strong America Now come as Mr. Gingrich has trumpeted his “positive” campaign, dinging Mr. Romney for negative campaigning and holding him responsible for the actions of a pro-Romney super-PAC.

Strong America Now’s criticism of Mr. Romney, the details of which were unclear, makes it the first super-PAC to go negative in the Republican presidential nominating process, other than one supporting Mr. Romney.

Super-PACs are, on paper, independent from presidential campaigns and barred from coordinating strategies.

But candidates can publicly make publicly their views about any super-PAC and call on supporters not to donate to the independent groups. The former House speaker has said he would condemn any group that ran negative ads on his behalf.

Mr. Romney was not receptive to that demand, declining to denounce the independent group, Restore Our Future, that has spent more than $2.6 million attacking Mr. Gingrich on his behalf, saying, “This is politics.”

The Gingrich campaign did not immediately respond to a question about whether it would condemn Strong America Now, which has spent $80,000 on his behalf in the past week.

Its first $40,000 batch of mailings, according to Federal Election Commission filings, which require the identification of any candidate named in the mailings, solely supported Mr. Gingrich without mentioning any rival. The latest batch, which went out Monday, both supported him and advocated against Mr. Romney.

The group is separate from another pro-Gingrich super-PAC, Winning Our Future, which sprouted up this month with assistance from a former Gingrich aide, Rick Tyler, and is expected to make major ad buys in the coming days.

“If Rick Tyler runs a single negative ad, I will disown the PAC and discourage anyone from giving them a penny,” Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, told reporters.

Make Us Great Again, a group supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry and organized by former aides, made one of its largest ad buys yet on Monday, spending $877,000 and raising its total spending to $3.8 million, disclosures filed Tuesday showed.

That unexpectedly catapults the pro-Perry group well past Restore Our Future, which has the backing of business associates of Mr. Romney, a co-founder of a venture-capital firm, despite Mr. Perry’s lower standing in the polls.