Mitt Romney: "I don't know why" Newt is angry enough to call him a liar

Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Getty Images

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich
Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Tuesday Newt Gingrich must be angry for calling him a liar, but he does not know why.

Earlier Tuesday, the former House speaker said on CBS' "The Early Show" that Romney is a liar because he pretends he does not have anything to do with a so-called Super PAC that has run television ads sharply critical of Gingrich.

"This is a man whose staff created the PAC. His millionaire friends fund the PAC. He pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC. It's baloney," Gingrich told CBS' "The Early Show."

Asked to respond to the charge by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Romney said, "well, I don't know why he's so angry."

"I think he's mad for a lot of reasons, but I think he is a good guy. I like his wife Callista, wish him well," Romney added.

The Republican front-runner insisted that he is powerless to tell the Super PAC what it should do with its television advertisements.

"Of course the Super PAC that is working for me, I know the people there. Of course I helped raise money for it, but the law says I can't tell them what kind of ads to run or when to run them or where to run them. That's the law that we have to live by, we're not allowed to coordinate with these entities," he said.

"And if they make mistakes or say things that are wrong, I decry that. Don't say things that are dishonest. But the idea of being upset about contrast, and people pointing out the record of other people, that's part of politics. This has gone on since, well, Jefferson versus Adams," Romney added.

Asked if Gingrich was just being thin-skinned as his support plummeted in the wake of the negative advertisements, Romney said he does not think it is productive to engage in personal attacks.

"This is obviously a tough time for the speaker, and I wish him well. And we will see how this develops. I can't guarantee who is going to be the nominee. I hope it's me. But it could be him. It could be Rick Santorum. Rick is doing well," Romney said, adding that he would support the Republican nominee, whoever it turns out to be.

Gingrich had earlier said he would support Romney if he wins the Republican nomination.

Full CBS News coverage: Mitt Romney

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    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

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