CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign hit back at GOP rival Mitt Romney on Friday, saying criticism by the former Massachusetts governor's campaign seemed desperate.
"What we're seeing from Mitt Romney in Boston is desperation and panic and I think that's going to be very frustrating to people moving forward," said Iowa state Rep. Linda Upmeyer, one of Gingrich's surrogates here, referring to Romney's campaign headquarters in Massachusetts. "That isn't what wins you caucuses or elections here in Iowa."
Former Rep. Greg Ganske, who was elected to Congress in 1994 and served under Gingrich when he was speaker of the House, suggested Romney only wanted to use the caucuses to tear down Gingrich ahead of the New Hampshire primary.
"Maybe he doesn't care. Maybe he doesn't care about winning Iowa. He just wants to tear down the speaker here and then focus on New Hampshire," Ganske said.
Their comments came on a conference call to respond to attacks from Romney's campaign and his allies - just a day after Gingrich's campaign maintained that he would stay positive in the face of Romney attacks. On Thursday, Romney surrogates assailed the former House speaker as irrational and unfit to lead, and Romney allies started airing a TV attack ad against Gingrich in Iowa. It's part of a $3.1 million campaign by Romney supporters.
"That's as much as the Super Bowl," Upmeyer said of the buy. She said instead that Gingrich offers positive solutions.
Ganske was forced to defend Gingrich's record as speaker after Romney's campaign released a list of comments from former House colleagues tearing him down. Many have been critical of what they say was chaotic and egotistical.
"I think he's a fundamentally happier person than he was before," Ganske said when asked if Gingrich's management style had changed since his time leading the House.
Such calls, a routine tactic for most campaigns, are uncommon for Gingrich and represent an evolution in his campaign. Romney's campaign responded with their own conference call Friday, with two Iowa supporters defending Romney's tactics as simply contrasting with Gingrich on issues.