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Pro-Mitt Romney group attacks Newt Gingrich on the air in Florida

Just in time for the holidays … attack TV ads to kick off Florida's presidential primary.

A political group working to elect Mitt Romney is launching TV ads in Tampa Bay criticizing former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a baggage-laden disaster against whom President Barack Obama would love to run.

"Barack Obama's plan is working. Destroy Mitt Romney. Run against Newt Gingrich. Newt has a ton of baggage," says a female narrator, who cites congressional ethics violation fines Gingrich paid, consulting fees he received from Freddie Mac, and his positions on illegal immigration.

It wasn't immediately clear Friday how extensively the 30-second spot will air in Florida, but the St. Petersburg Times reviewed contracts showing that the political committee Restore Our Future bought $30,500 worth of airtime on the local Fox affiliate, WTVT-Ch. 13, and $2,100 on the CBS affiliate, WTSP-Ch. 10.

Restore Our Future is a so-called Super Pac that can spend vast sums helping candidates but is not allowed to coordinate directly with the campaign. Several former Romney campaign staffers are working for Restore Our Future, which has been heavily funded by longtime Romney supporters.

The ads are scheduled to run through Dec. 22, apparently an effort to soften up Gingrich just before absentee voting begins in Florida. A spokeswoman for Restore Our Future declined to comment.

Gingrich leads Romney in Florida by 18 percentage points, according to an average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. Restore Our Future has been running many more negative ads in Iowa against Gingrich, who has seen his lead eroding there down to a current average of about 8 percentage points.

Gingrich has instructed campaign staffers not to initiate any attacks on fellow Republicans, and he told Iowa Public Television recently that the attack ads against him conflict with the spirit of Christmas.

"I think it's counterintuitive," Gingrich said. "We have an ad that will come up next week where Callista and I are wishing people a Merry Christmas, and we're talking in a totally positive way. I just think if these guys keep up this negative junk, it's discordant with the spirit of Christmas."

Pro-Mitt Romney group attacks Newt Gingrich on the air in Florida 12/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011 9:25pm]
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