Following Michele Bachmann's aggressive performance at the Iowa debate last night, the GOP primary candidate's campaign team went for the jugular in an attack on Newt Gingrich's politics and integrity, calling the former House speaker a flying around conservative who would morph his views according to who's paying him.
Bachmann campaign manager Keith Nahigian and spokeswoman Alice Stewart met with reporters in Sioux City, Iowa just after the last televised debate before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, 2012, and didn't mince words during an after-debate briefing in the media spin room.
Although Bachmann targeted both Mitt Romney and Gingrich in the Republican debates last night, questioning both candidate's electability and records, Newt Gingrich was Nahigian and Stewart's only target in the after-debate campaign strategy, showing that Michele Bachmann's camp considers him and not Romney the man to beat.
'They're one and the same.'
Rep. Michele Bachmann certainly didn't hold back during the Iowa GOP debate, challenging Gingrich on a number of points concerning his record and even accusing him of lobbying for Freddie Mac, an assertion Gingrich said was factually not true.
But Bachmann's comments to Gingrich were outdone by those of her staff after the debate was over, as both Nahigian and Stewart began by saying that Gingrich, despite his reputation as a conservative firebrand, is just as moderate as Mitt Romney.
They're both one and the same, Stewart said of Gingrich and Romney's alleged moderate leanings. When it comes to the [health care] mandate... when it comes to immigration and the TARP and the bailout and several issues, they're one and the same.
The pair also took Gingrich to task for saying that Bachmann's comment about his record were false.
Time and time over these last two or three debates, he gets questioned on his inconsistency of his record and every time he has the same response about not having our facts straight, Nahigian said. And every time, he admits it the next day that we had our facts right.
'Who's paying them and not paying them...'
But Bachmann's camp isn't satisfied with simply grouping Gingrich and Romney together.
In a move that demonstrates both the threat Gingrich poses and Bachmann's strategy to get back up in the polls, Nahigian and Stewart asserted that between the two men, Gingrich was the worse candidate: at least Romney, they asserted, is honest about being a moderate.
I think the issue [for Bachmann] is that Romney is a moderate, [but] Newt Gingrich is portraying himself as a conservative, Nahigian said, according to CNN. I think that's what gets her [Michele Bachmann] really going.
But Keith Nahigian didn't stop with Newt Gingrich's politics: the campaign manager then took aim at his integrity.
Implicitely referencing Bachmann's comments about Freddie Mac during the Iowa debate, Nahigian accused Gingrich of being an unscrupulous chameleon, a politician-for-hire influenced not by principles but by hard cash.
Bachmann can't stand people who morph into different things, on different years, according to who's paying them and who's not paying them.
A 'Flying Around' Conservative
Gingrich has already fired back at Micheleb Bachmann for insinuating that he lobbied for corporate interests and swapped policies for cash payments. During the Dec. 15 Iowa debate, he stated unequivically that he never made any back-room deals with Freddie Mac.
The fact is, I only chose to work with people whose values I shared, and having people have a chance to buy a house is a value I believe still is important in America.
Gingrich did not get a chance, however, to counter the statements made by Nahigian and Stewart, who closed their meeting in the spin room by reiterating Bachmann's favorite line, claiming she is the only consistent conservative in the GOP race.
That's what she's trying to show, Nahigian told reporters about Bachmann's performance at the Republican debate. The difference between being a strong conservative and being a 'flying around' conservative.