Team Newt: Romney Will Be George H.W. Bush

Front-runner challenges Romney's surrogates.

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Mitt Romney's use of John Sununu, former President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff, to attack Newt Gingrich is being welcomed by the front-runner's campaign to highlight to conservatives why Romney isn't one of them.

"When Romney picks up Sununu support and Sununu starts bashing Newt, Romney is opening himself to a whole bunch of history, where Sununu was on the wrong side of conservative policy and personnel for all of Bush 41, which was an awful time for our movement and our country," said a key conservative and advisor to Gingrich.

Some conservatives said that they will remind voters that Bush backed away from key right wing policies when Sununu was in charge of the West Wing, most notably when the president reneged on his promise never to raise taxes. [GOP Rivals Likely to Gang Up on Gingrich.]

"This theme is going to pick up steam over the next few days: Romney would be Bush 41 all over again," said another Gingrich advisor.

The proof: Today a key GOP political advisor at the time issued a statement blasting Sununu. "The last time we heard from John Sununu he was ripping off the taxpayers by commandeering government vehicles to chauffeur him to stamp-collecting auctions in Manhattan or working overtime getting George Bush to break his 'no new taxes pledge' while Newt Gingrich was leading the conservatives against the Bush tax increase," said Roger Stone, former President Reagan's political advisor. He was referring to a mini scandal during Sununu's reign. [See political cartoons on Newt Gingrich.]

By rolling out policy makers and politicians who worked with Gingrich, Romney has been trying to portray the former speaker as a flip-flopper and unsteady conservative. But the Gingrich campaign is planning to strike back at the surrogates, with Sununu being the first target.

  • See political cartoons on the GOP hopefuls.
  • See who's in and out of the GOP race.
  • See a slide show of Newt Gingrich's career.