The Washington Times - January 1, 2012, 07:26PM

As Newt Gingrich struggles for a third-place finish in Tuesday’s Iowa caucus, he unleashed his harshest criticism of frontrunner Mitt Romney yet, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of trying to buy the election.

The former House speaker was asked to clarify remarks earlier in the day in which he appeared to charge Mr. Romney with attempting to buy the election.


“No, I didn’t say he was,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I said he would if he could … he would buy an election if he could.”

Mr. Gingrich was referring to a negative spate of ads underwritten by a super PAC backing Mr. Romney, which he said cost a total of $3.5 million.

Mr. Gingrich kept his comments brief to roughly 300 people crowded in the Junction Bar and Grill, opting to speak to the crowd one-on-one and take photos with them individually after his remarks.

“Iowa has the opportunity to really change American politics by showing that negative campaigns don’t work,” Mr. Gingrich told the crowd, “to the degree you can convince people not to vote for the people who are running the negative ads.”

“We cannot change the negativity and divisiveness of Washington by voting for the people running the negative campaign ads,” he said to thunderous applause.