GOP Race Turns Nasty

The mud is being thrown by all sides in the Republican presidential race.

By + More

The bad blood is getting worse among the Republican presidential candidates.

It suggests that the GOP campaign will be increasingly harsh and that it may be very difficult for the Republicans to unify behind the eventual nominee.

[Vote: Is the GOP 2012 Race Already Too Negative?]

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Fox News last night that front-runner Mitt Romney is a "moderate," not a true conservative in the Ronald Reagan mold which was how Gingrich characterized himself. The former speaker also said Romney is an overly cautious politician while "I represent a genuine insurgency." Gingrich also said Ron Paul "doesn't care" about U.S. national security partly because Paul is willing to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

For his part, Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, told CNN that Gingrich is a "chicken hawk" because he didn't serve in the Vietnam war yet Gingrich has a record of supporting U.S. military engagements overseas. Paul was a flight surgeon in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. In response, Gingrich told Politico, "I had two children during that period. I never asked for a deferment. During the period I was a father and it was automatic."

[See a collection of political cartoons on Newt Gingrich.]

Paul kept up the pressure with a radio ad in South Carolina, site of an upcoming primary, that called Gingrich a "counterfeit conservative."

Rick Santorum got into the mix by calling Paul "disgusting" for challenging Santorum's record of opposing abortion. Paul said Santorum backed fellow Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in the past even though Specter was pro-choice. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, says he is fiercely anti-abortion.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Santorum also emailed supporters that Romney is a "bland, boring career politician who will lose to Barack Obama."

Democratic strategists are enjoying the fight. The more it escalates, they say, the weaker the eventual GOP nominee will be.

  • Vote for your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.
  • See a slide show of GOP spouses on the 2012 campaign trail