Newt Gingrich returned to Iowa yesterday with a newfound distaste for Citizens United. Tapping into his inner Lawrence Lessig, Gingrich stumped against his opponents' Super PACs—primarily Romney's even if he doesn't recognize the name—for blitzing Iowa with a barrage of negative ads, such as this one:
Gingrich is assaulting the prevalence of Super PACs now that his poll numbers have dropped as a result of recent attack ads, but he hasn't exactly turned that criticism on himself. Solutions 2012 was formed earlier this year by Becky Burkett, a former aide who had solicited funds for a Gingrich nonprofit. The LA Times reported that the group has penciled in an operating budget of $10 million to support the former speaker's presidential ambitions. A second pro-Gingrich Super PAC called Winning Our Future popped up last week and has already cut an ad touting Gingrich's conservative credentials (to be fair that ad does avoid the negative campaigning that has been Gingrich's main point of contention).
Last night, Gingrich suggested that his opponents are hoodwinking voters when they claim to have no ties to the Super PACs supporting their campaigns. "Don't hide behind some baloney about 'this Super PAC I have no control of that happens to be run by five of my former staff,'" Gingrich said at a town hall gathering of supporters. Without mentioning his name, the reference was a clear attack on Romney. Several former aides, including his 2008 political director Carl Forit, manage the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future, which has run ads and sent mailers opposing Gingrich.Today Rick Tyler—another former Gingrich advisor—joined Winning Our Future. Tyler worked as Gingrich's spokesman for 12 years before he left over the summer.
It seems unlikely that Newt will direct his campaign-finance ire at the two PACs supporting his candidacy. Before the recent wave of attacks, he had expressly favored loosening campaign finance restrictions. "I actually think that the Citizens United case is one of the best examples of a genuine strategy that I've seen in the years that I've been in Washington," Gingrich said in a video celebrating the one-year anniversary of the decision. "It's really one of the most sophisticated, methodical and serious strategies I've seen in my years looking at government. I think Dave [ Bossie, director of Citizens United] believed passionately that the heart of American liberty is the right of every citizen—whether you agree or disagree—to get up and be heard."
Gingrich's frustration with the proliferation of unlimited donations seems to be based solely on the fact that Romney has been more successful at it this year, and not a principled stand against the corrosive influence of money in politics. I doubt there would be much protest from Gingrich if reports of a casino billionaire funneling $20 million to a Super Pac supporting his candidacy were true.