BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Newt Gingrich spent the day of the Iowa caucuses making one final pitch to Iowans and thanking them for their support over the past several months.
"Iowans have an opportunity tonight to send a message to Washington and to the political system that the age of negative consultants and negative attack ads is over,” Gingrich told a crowd of roughly 75 people at an event in Eastern Iowa Tuesday morning.
“Starting tomorrow morning, there will be fewer TV ads, you’ll have about a third of less mail in your mailbox,” Gingrich said in Muscatine. ”But I want to start the day by thanking all of Iowa. What I am really impressed with is how seriously Iowans take their decisions.”
The onetime frontrunner is struggling to finish in the top tier of candidates during the first-in-the-nation caucuses tonight after being hammered by negative television ads and direct mailers for weeks.
Gingrich dropped from first place in many polls back in early December to not even in the top three in the final days leading up to the Iowa caucus.
The former House Speaker vowed form the beginning to run a positive-only campaign and says Mitt Romney and Romney’s SuperPAC ads are filled with lies.
“I was asked did I think he was a liar and I said yes,” Gingrich told reporters in a press conference at The Drake Restaurant here in Burlington. “He doesn’t tell the truth.”
The Gingrich campaign announced recently they will report having raised just over $9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011, but noted a lot of that money will be spent on the Iowa Caucus itself. Today, Gingrich, who is still confident he can win the GOP nomination, said he will “raise more money” so he can begin airing TV ads in South Carolina and Florida. The Romney campaign is already out with television ads in South Carolina and aired its first Florida ad today.
But before those other early states, Gingrich has to make it out of Iowa. Today, he tried to sell his level of experience to Iowans on his final tele-townhall in the Hawkeye State, as well, but was careful not to make any predictions on how he would finish in the caucus tonight.
“Arguments are going to matter, attendance is going to matter” tonight, the Speaker told callers as he rode on his campaign bus to Cedar Falls, IA to speak at Black Hawk County’s caucus super site.
Caucus-goers in Iowa have the first voice in election 2012 starting at 8pm ET tonight. Former Congressman J.C. Watts, Rep. Burgess, and both of Gingrich’s daughters and sons-in-law will speak at caucus sites in Iowa tonight on behalf of the Speaker.
Gingrich, who characterized himself Tuesday as a “genuine old-time conservative,” hopes Iowans will help propel his candidacy on into the other early nominating states.