An outside group backing Mitt Romney for president is criticizing Newt Gingrich for attacking their candidate even as it launches its own offensive against the former House speaker.
"Restore our Future," a super PAC backing Romney, is airing a television ad in South Carolina and Florida that chastises rival Newt Gingrich for attacking the former Massachusetts governor's record running investment firm Bain Capital.
Gingrich and Romney -- and the super PACs backing their campaigns -- have been aggressively attacking each other in recent weeks. For instance, super PAC allied with Gingrich called "Winning Our Future" is targeting Romney for his leadership at Bain Capital, casting him as a corporate "raider" whose company orchestrated the layoffs of hundreds of workers.
In its new ad, the pro-Romney super PAC charges that "Newt attacks because he has more baggage than the airlines." The ad charges "Newt was fined $300,000 for ethics violations, took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, and co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China's brutal one-child policy."
Gingrich's legal counsel has threatened to sue television stations should they continue to air the ad, NBC reports. They claim that Gingrich was never "fined" $300,000 for ethics violations but rather paid Congress that amount to reimburse it for the costs of his ethics investigation. Restore our Future maintains the ad is legitimate.
The ad is part of the super PAC's $2.3 million ad buy in South Carolina, where the next Republican primary takes place on January 21. The race for the GOP presidential nomination is expected toin the Palmetto state.
Some conservatives have criticized Gingrich for attacking Romney's business record, saying it amounts to an attack on free enterprise, but in Columbia, South Carolina today, Gingrich kept up his populist rhetoric.
"I think when you have crony capitalism of politicians taking care of their friends- that's not free enterprise--that's just backdoor socialism in which the rich get all the money and the rest of us gets left, gets left with all the debt," he said. "And I'm not going to back down or be afraid to say we the American people have the right to know and any candidate for president has an obligation to tell us."
With reporting from Sarah Huisenga