Schieffer: Never underestimate power of attacks

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns at Sugden Plaza in Naples, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Charles Dharapak

Mitt Romney is putting some distance between himself and Newt Gingrich in Florida and that may confirm a campaign truth - going negative still has its positives.

Gingrich entered the Sunshine State riding high off a victory in South Carolina, but his momentum has been reversed, thanks in large part to a flurry of attack ads from Romney supporters.

"You never want to underestimate the impact of negative advertising," Bob Schieffer said on "CBS This Morning." "Romney has just loaded up the television stations and the radio here with negative ads about Newt Gingrich. It worked against Gingrich way back there in Iowa and it is working here in Florida. I don't think there's any doubt about that."

Romney way ahead, Gingrich on attack in Fla.
Mitt Romney launches assault on Gingrich

Schieffer also said that Gingrich may also have found himself to be the victim of "unintended consequences" - his impressive debate performances prompted Romney to hire a debate coach, improving his own debate game.

Still, even as members of the Republican establishment speak out against the Gingrich campaign, he remains serious challenger to Romney, who has struggled to win over conservatives.

That difficulty was underscored this weekend when Sarah Palin, who still enjoys support from Tea Party conservatives, criticized the attacks on Gingrich coming from Romney and the GOP establishment.

"What that really shows you, I think, is the Tea Party still has not totally accepted Mitt Romney. There's still a great divide ... in the Republican Party right now. And that's why I think Newt Gingrich will hang around."