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Gingrich: I Am Mr. Middle Class ... And Bloomberg Bought His Third Term

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Was it fair game or the pot calling the kettle black? Beleaguered Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich fired a broadside at Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday, accusing the three-term mayor of buying his last election.

Gingrich, stumping in Mason City, Iowa with less than a week before the caucuses, blamed his slippage in the polls on negative campaigning by his competitors. But that didn't stop him from going negative against a non-candidate.

"We don't come out of a background where we can buy a seat or buy, as Mayor Bloomberg did, buy the mayorship of New York. I mean if you look at how much he spent, he just wrote a check and bought it," Gingrich said.

True, to win his third term, billionaire Bloomberg spent $102 million of his own money, according to the New York Times, which comes out to $174 per vote. He spent $85 million to win his second term.

Gingrich was trying to make a point that he doesn't come from a privileged background, unlike some of the other Republican candidates.

"I think that's very dangerous to the future of American democracy. My dad served in the Army for 27 years; I was a college teacher. I'm a middle class person," Gingrich said.

Well, only if middle class people have net worth's of almost $7 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Folks on the streets of New York on Wednesday weren't buying it.

"He doesn't have the best track record in being an upstanding citizen himself," said Benn Mendoza of the Upper East Side.

"Surely no one would take anything Newt said seriously," added Brenda Handlmyer of Houston, Texas.

"Isn't Newt Gingrich writing checks right now to buy the election?" wondered Greg Wait of Raleigh, N.C.

Not everyone who spoke with CBS 2's Derricke Dennis, however, criticized the former Speaker of the House, who ushered in the first Republican majority in the House in 40 years and passed the first balanced budget since 1969.

"Honestly, I think he, I think he has a point," said Gracie Burwell of the Upper West Side.

"Unfortunately, you're in a society where money does dictate how far you're going to go in politics," said Rob Hyman of Valley Stream.

Once upon a time, Gingrich was leading in the polls in Iowa. Now that edge has evaporated, but in New York City, Bloomberg still has plenty of supporters.

"He's the best mayor we ever had. And if he bought the election, and he can afford it, so be it," said Jack Wynn of Midtown.

The mayor's office had no comment. Gingrich has vowed to not go negative against his Republican competitors, but that hasn't stopped them from suggesting he's a hypocrite, a Washington insider, or worse, to the voters he's trying to attract, a closet liberal.

Do you think Gingrich was out of line or did he make a good point? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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