Attack ads have been eating away at Newt Gingrich’s support in Iowa, and the former Speaker blasted his fellow candidates yesterday for “going negative” in Davenport:
“If they run into one of these candidates, tell them they ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Gingrich said before roughly 150 people just outside of Cedar Rapids. “They ought to take this junk off the air.”
And it is these negative attacks that are perhaps causing the recent drop in polls.
“Watch TV here for 2 days. You had all sorts of people, all sorts of these Super PACs who have been consistently running negative ads,” Gingrich admitted to a couple hundred people early Tuesday at an event in Davenport.
While the attack ads have certainly hurt him in the polls, Gingrich probably wouldn’t be losing steam so quickly if he had devoted more effort to building up his organization in Iowa and spent more time on retail politics. Leaving Iowa shortly after the last debate was a mistake – in fact, every day between now and the caucuses that Gingrich doesn’t spend in Iowa is a day wasted.
This isn’t necessarily a matter of money, either. As the Iowa Republican‘s Craig Robinson told The Hill, Gingrich has enough star power to draw a crowd in Iowa based on his name alone. And the lack of campaign cash hasn’t stopped Gingrich’s lesser-known opponents from doing the legwork in the state:
“How much money does it really take to campaign in Iowa?” Robinson said. “Even though it was bad right out the gate, Newt Gingrich drew crowds and could connect with voters. Rick Santorum is doing it without money, Michele Bachmann is doing it now. It’s not luxurious, it’s not necessarily fun, but it’s how you build lasting support. I think they’ve taken a really lazy approach.”
If the former not-Romney frontrunners have taught us anything in this race, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to make up the lost ground once your support starts dropping. Bachmann, Perry and Cain weren’t able to pull it off, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Gingrich has just started to see his numbers fall off, and while he may not get back to the position he once was in, he may be able to do something to stop the bleeding.
An endorsement from an influential Iowa social conservative group – like the Family Leader, which will announce its endorsement decision today – could reinvigorate Gingrich’s campaign. Of course, he would have had a much better shot at winning the group’s support before his poll numbers started dropping. Now that Gingrich is no longer leading the field, it actually frees up the Family Leader to pick a candidate who’s less controversial with social conservatives, like Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum.