WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich’s trailing rivals derided the leading presidential contenders on Sunday as insufficiently conservative, each trying to find a second wind in the race to become the Republican nominee with time running out before voting begins.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota combined the two leaders into a “Newt Romney” character. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Gingrich and Romney “come from the same mold.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said voters aren’t looking for a fact-spewing “robot.” All attempted to claw their way back into the campaign that has suddenly become a two-man race.
“As I was studying the candidates, especially Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, it is very clear that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two of them, because both of them have advocated for the health care mandate. In Newt Gingrich’s case for 20 years. And in Mitt Romney’s case he’s the only governor in the United States’ history to put into place socialized medicine,” Bachmann said.
Iowa’s lead-off caucuses are coming quickly. The candidates have spent months – if not years – preparing for the nominating process that starts Jan. 3.
Gingrich and Romney, meanwhile, planned competing events today in New Hampshire, where Gingrich will end the day debating former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry and former Sen. Rick Santorum planned to attend an event with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Wednesday, and all planned to participate in the campaign’s 13th debate on Thursday.
Yet the topsy-turvy race remains fluid, and the struggling candidates are hoping to deflate Romney and Gingrich by noting similarities on issues that could concern conservatives.
Romney and Gingrich at one time backed requiring individuals to purchase health insurance, although both decry the federal provision in Democrats’ health care law. Both also supported the Wall Street bailout, government subsidies for ethanol and the science suggesting humans play a role in climate change – all toxic among the party’s orthodox.