Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is edging closer to a full-scale attack on surging rival Newt Gingrich.
In an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News last night, Romney called Gingrich "a lifelong politician"—a serious accusation at a time when many voters are upset with Washington and the status quo.
Romney, a former venture capitalist and ex-governor of Massachusetts, said Gingrich is "a good man" but made sure to refer to him as "Speaker Gingrich," a reference to his service as speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s, one of the ultimate insiders in the capital.
Romney said Gingrich has spent "30 or 40 years in Washington" while Romney was learning how to create jobs in the private sector.
"I think I'd stand by far the best shot of replacing President Obama among the Republicans in the field," Romney told Fox.
Without mentioning Gingrich by name, he said some politicians have changed their views on important issues such as global warming and cap-and-trade measures to reduce harmful emissions. That's what Gingrich has done. This remark was designed to defuse critics who say that it is Romney who has flip-flopped on too many issues, including abortion and immigration.
Romney also repeated his criticism that Gingrich is endorsing a form of amnesty for some illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years.
Romney's remarks last night marked a significant departure for him. He has up to now assiduously focused his criticism on President Obama and what Romney calls the current administration's failure to improve the economy and create jobs. By attacking Gingrich, he is making a strategic shift in order to raise or renew doubts about the former speaker now that the first nominating caucuses in Iowa and the first primary in New Hampshire are only several weeks away.