7:59am

Tue December 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Flagging In Polls, Gingrich Urges Voters To Reject Negative Campaigning

New polls — both in Iowa and nationwide — show front-running GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich losing his edge. Over at the New York Times' blog FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's latest forecast shows Ron Paul taking the lead in Iowa.

That could mean that a barrage of negative ads against Gingrich is having an effect.

NPR's Kathy Lohr caught up with Gingrich Monday night at a town hall meeting in Hiawatha, just outside of Cedar Rapids.

The former House speaker told the crowd that the negative GOP attack ads are bad for the party and bad for voters, Lohr reports.

"If there's anything I have found saddening, but not shocking, but saddening, about this campaign, it has been the weight of totally negative campaigning by people who apparently have nothing positive to offer," Gingrich said.

Lohr reports that, "The former speaker is fighting back — not with negative ads of his own, but by urging his supporters to ask their friends to deliver a message to his GOP rivals."

"Ask em if they run into one of these candidates to tell them they ought to be ashamed of themselves. They ought to take this junk off the air," Gingrich told the crowd.

Lohr reports that voters — at least the ones at the Gingrich event — seemed sympathetic to the idea that the candidates should quit beating up on each other and focus on President Obama instead.

One supporter, retired nurse Kathy Hulse, told Lohr she is tired of the negative campaigning.

"It's just like cat[s] and dogs fighting. That's not what we're wanting to hear. We want to hear what they stand for. How are they going to help this country is what we want to hear. We don't want to hear the negativism," Hulse said.

To combat the attacks, Lohr reports, Gingrich plans to hold daily teleconferences where he says anyone will be able to get questions answered. He's also planning a 44-stop bus tour though Iowa after Christmas. And he says he won't launch any attack ads of his own.

Of course, as Lohr points out, he doesn't have the money to do that anyway.

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