August 1, 2014

Gingrich, Santorum, Perry say Paul’s views are outside the mainstream

The intensity of campaigning has accelerated in Iowa, with three Republican presidential hopefuls going after rival Ron Paul, a candidate who is shown as leading or near the top of recent polls here. Newt Gingrich took direct aim at Paul in a CNN interview earlier today, saying Paul’s views are outside the mainstream of “virtually every decent American.”

“There will come a morning when people won’t take him as a serious person,” Gingrich said during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Gingrich cited Paul’s comments about Iran, Israel and 9/11 and said Paul’s “total record” shows a “systemic avoidance of reality.” Another candidate, Rick Santorum, criticized the Texas congressman during a campaign stop in Mason City. Santorum called Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy “scary”.

“Think about having a guy running for president who’s going to be to the left of Barack Obama on national security,” Santorum said.

Paul has vowed to close five federal agencies and cut a trillion dollars out of the federal budget. Santorum suggested Paul is “least likely” among the candidates to get those kind of cuts enacted.

“He’s been in congress 20 years and never passed a bill,” Santorum told the crowd in Mason City. “So what would lead you to believe that he could get something that huge done in a town where he’s shown no track record of getting anything done?”

Rick Perry also suggested Paul “would allow Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth” if he becomes president. Perry is using one of his campaign ads to take aim at Paul and Santorum, who’s a former Pennsylvania congressman and senator, as well as Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann and Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.

“If Washington’s the problem, why trust a congressman to fix it?” the ad’s narrator asks. “Among them, they’ve spent 63 years in congress, leaving us with debts, earmarks and bail-outs.”

Perry, the current governor of Texas, emphasized his “outsider” status during a string of campaign events in western Iowa.  Michele Bachmann also campaigned in western Iowa and during a stop tonight in Atlantic, Bachmann said she “took it to” Ron Paul  during the last TV debate, over the issue of a nuclear Iran. She promised to do the same against President Obama.

“I think it’s time that America has a Margaret Thatcher and America has an Iron Lady, a woman who’s not afraid of all the men in Washington, D.C. and who’s not afraid to take on all the liberals in Washington, D.C.,” Bachmann said, as the crowd started to applaud. “I’m not and I will.”

On the other side of the state in Dubuque earlier today, Gingrich told reporters he has “a lot of time” left to convince Caucus-goers they can invest their vote in him despite the questions raised in campaign ads.

“I trust in the people of Iowa to look at something that’s clearly baloney and know that it’s baloney,” Gingrich said.

During his speech to the Rotarians, Gingrich suggested Republican rival Mitt Romney and his allies had stepped over some sort of line.

“To have somebody who was a Massachusetts moderate, who said he did not want to go back to the Reagan/Bush years…who as recently as when he was running for governor said, ‘I’m really kind of a moderate, pragmatic guy,’ — to have him run a commercial that questions my conservatism?” Gingrich asked rhetorically in Dubuque.

Romney arrived in Iowa late this afternoon. Romney told a crowd in Davenport that Barack Obama is a “pessimistic president” who has failed to deliver on his campaign promises and is asking America to “settle for less.”

Four of the candidates — Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry and Santorum – participated in a radio forum organized by PersonhoodUSA, a group pushing congress to pass a bill declaring that life begins at conception. Rick Perry, who has opposed nearly all abortions, revealed he no longer favors exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

All five candidates who were in Iowa today will remain on the Caucus campaign trail tomorrow.  They’ll be joined by Paul, who will hold his first event in Newton at noon tomorrow.

(Additional reporting by Bob Fisher of KGLO in Mason City and Ric Hanson of KJAN in Atlantic)