The Washington Times - January 28, 2012, 02:35PM

Romney campaign surrogates originating from Capitol Hill are stepping up their own campaign that includes following former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to each of his campaign stops in Florida.


Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, Congressman Connie Mack, Florida Republican, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, California Republican, and Congressman Charlie Bass, New Hampshire Republican are appearing at Gingrich events to speak to the press and “rebut” Speaker Gingrich’s remarks on the campaign trail.

“The term desperation comes to mind,” Gingrich told reporters when asked about what he thought of Congressional members, some who served under him, coming to his events as Romney supporters.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond has made it a point to confront these lawmakers who have endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and get into intense verbal sparring matches with them in front of media.

“I think it’s a fair match. (The Romney campaign) has sent congressmen who have endorsed him. It’s a slight overmatch. R.C. is a little bit more informed than they are.”

“(Hammond) is kind of attacking the surrogates which is odd from that of a paid staffer  to get in other people’s faces,” Rep. Bono Mack told me during a Gingrich campaign stop in Port St. Lucie she attended with her husband and fellow lawmaker Rep. Connie Mack.

Hammond went after Rep. Charlie Bass and asked the New Hampshire Republican, “Didn’t Newt campaign for you in ’94?”

Bass replied, “He didn’t.”

“He didn’t come up for ya’?” Hammond questioned.

“Not at all,” Bass confirmed.

I spoke with Mr. Bass later who told me, “I’m here to make sure that the message gets out to Florida voters that on Tuesday their vote matters  and they have to understand and that the candidate they vote for can best lead this nation for four years and I think Mitt Romney is that candidate.”

“Our main purpose is to avail ourselves to you…the press. We’re here. We can instantly rebut what we hear. We can share our experiences working under Newt’s leadership and in my case and in Charlie Bass’s case as well.”

Rep. Mack, himself, had it out with Mr. Hammond at the campaign event (video above). Rep. Mack questioned Mr. Hammond asking if Speaker Gingrich “was a lobbyist.” Rep. Mack asked what kind of influence Mr. Gingrich was “peddling.” 

“Peddling would be what Vin Webber did,” Hammond said.

“No. Peddling would be what Newt did when he was paid $1.6 million…he hasn’t answered the question,” Rep Mack shot back.  

“He wasn’t registered as a lobbyist,” responded Hammond.

“He was hired by the lead lobbyist,” Congressman Mack then said.

Congressman Mack was seen by Gingrich embedded media at a lunch stop later on. Rep. Mack took a photo of the reporters, and said he would be at the next Gingrich campaign stop. Rep. Mack and Rep. Bono Mack appeared briefly at the following Gingrich campaign event in Orlando before Mr. Gingrich arrived, and they left before Mr. Hammond could face them again.