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Gingrich slams Romney in S.C. telephone town hall

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- During a teletown hall with South Carolina voters today, Newt Gingrich slammed Mitt Romney’sgubernatorial resume, an indication of how the former House speaker may try to rout the Republican frontrunner in the coming days. 

Gingrich criticized the universal health care plan Romney signed into law as Massachusetts governor, claiming the law unfairly favored abortion providers.


"Romneycare has a position for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States,"Gingrich said on the call, referring to a stipulation in the law that one member of the MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board must be appointed by the state’s Planned Parenthood league.

"Governor Romney signed a bill that includes Planned Parenthood, has no right-to-life positions, only Planned Parenthood," Gingrich continued. "In every sense it is like Obamacare. So I don’t see how Romney could debate Obama."

Gingrich’s campaign told NBC that it would soon run an ad in South Carolina hitting Romney over the Planned Parenthood provision in the health care law.

The health law was not the only part of Romney’s gubernatorial record that Gingrich brought up, as he also mentioned his proposal of a $10 fee for state certification of blindness and another $15 fee for photo identification cards for the blind, which were both approved by lawmakers but later repealed, according to an Associated Press article in the Boston Globe.

"He raised taxes so much that he even raised taxes on people who were blind," Gingrich told the listeners on the call.

As he has frequently on the campaign trail in recent weeks, Gingrich called Romney a "Massachusetts moderate" and linked him with several of that state’s high-profile Democrats.

"There is a really big difference between a Georgia conservative who worked with Ronald Reagan and a Massachusetts moderate," Gingrich said."He voted for Paul Tsongas in 1992."

Later: "He's a Massachusetts moderate in the same tradition as Michael Dukakis and John Kerry."

And, characterizing Romney as to the left of one of the Senate’s most prominent liberals, "When he ran against Teddy Kennedy he ran to Kennedy’s left; he said he was more pro-gay rights than Kennedy was; he said he was more pro-abortion than Kennedy was."

Gingrich’s criticism also grazed President Barack Obama in he context of a key issue for South Carolinians.

When asked what he would do to stop outsourcing, Gingrich began by slamming Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, a target for South Carolina voters since the NLRB sued Boeing for moving a plant here to avoid striking workers in Washington state (the case was dismissed last month).

Gingrich called the NLRB "an anti-South Carolina, anti-American jobs board" and said Congress should refuse to fund the board until Obama fires the people he appointed.

"There’s no reason we have to tolerate an imperial president breaking the law. The Senate has not adjourned, there are no grounds for a recess appointment and what the president did is illegal," he said.

While he is staying in New Hampshire until that state’s primary election, unlike some of his opponents who are jetting to South Carolina for short interim activity, Gingrich played up his organization in the Palmetto State as his state director Adam Waldeck announced the campaign’s South Carolina victory fund.

"Basically every single dollar that we bring into South Carolina will be staying in South Carolina for media and things like this,"Waldeck said.

During the call, Gingrich also asked participants to press 1 if they intended to vote for him, 2 if they wanted to volunteer for him, or 3 if they wanted to serve as a precinct captain. He interrupted the town hall to make the announcement seven times.

Gingrich will start his ten-day bus tour of South Carolina on Jan. 11thin Rock Hill. His daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushmanwas here today, meeting with voters in the upstate town of Chester.

Alex Moe also contributed reporting.

Related story: Gingrich forced to answer looming questions in New Hampshire