MANCHESTER — Over the few weeks, Ron Paul has surprisingly emerged as one of the most effective attack dogs in the Republican race. His negative ads derailed Newt Gingrich in Iowa, and he has leveled similar charges against Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman here in New Hampshire. So why hasn’t he gone after Mitt Romney?Romney and Paul may as well not even be running in the same race — the candidates rarely, if ever, mention one another, despite the fact that they consistently come in first and second place in most state and national polls.
At campaign stops in and around Manchester today, Paul chided Gingrich and Huntsman for “acting like Democrats” and going after free enterprise. He told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham that it looked Gingrich was “sort of struggling and he’s looking for something, but I don’t think it’s going to sell because I am hoping people understand the marketplace a little bit better than that.”
As we noted earlier today, the Paul campaign has increasingly come to view their candidate as the conservative alternative to Romney. In debates and statements over the last week, they have made it clear that their main objective now is to knock out the other candidates and frame the narrative as a two-man race.
Paul’s campaign chairman Jesse Benton laid out this strategy in the clearest terms yet today, in a press statement that slammed the “feigned controversy” surrounding Romney’s firing remark yesterday.
From the statement:
“Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be President and why this has become a two man national race between Mitt Romney, the candidate of the status quo, and Ron Paul, the candidate of real change.
“Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use ‘gotcha’ tactics to discredit us. Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context. They are also using the language of the liberal left to attack private equity and condemn capitalism in a desperate and, frankly, unsavory attempt to tear down another Republican with tactics akin to those of MoveOn.org.
“Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich are employing leftist tactics because they can’t run on their questionable records and can’t distinguish themselves from Romney. Like Romney, they all supported bailouts, big spending, deficits, and individual healthcare mandates. And, all three have disqualified themselves from the race for President of the United States, first with their records, then with their inability access major state ballots, and finally with these desperate and deplorable tactics.”