Gingrich seeks help from backers to repel attack ad 'barrage'

In his latest email to supporters, former Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (Ga.) offers a tacit admission that he has been hurt by negative ads from groups backing his rivals — and he appeals for help in pushing back against them.

Gingrich writes in the the email that “we are facing a barrage of attacks trying to paint me as something other than the experienced conservative in the race.”

The email continues: “These misleading ads fail to mention the strategy I helped craft that led to the first Republican majority in the House of Representatives in nearly four decades.”

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Gingrich’s Iowa poll numbers have fallen sharply in recent weeks. He drew the support of over 30 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in several polls conducted in late November and early December. But the current Real Clear Politics polling average in the state gives Gingrich less than 15 percent support, placing him in third place behind Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Negative ads that have been deployed against him, including one by Paul’s campaign that accuses the former Speaker of “serial hypocrisy,” are believed to have played a key role in Gingrich’s apparent loss of altitude. Last week, even the candidate himself sought to lower expectations, saying that his goal is to be in “the top three or four” when the results come in. 

The failure of the Gingrich campaign to respond with substantial TV advertising to the attacks against him is feeding doubts about whether money shortages continue to be a problem. Gingrich’s campaign almost imploded during the summer, and fundraising tallies to date have shown him far behind his rivals.

The new email from Gingrich encourages supporters to donate to his campaign, in part to counter this impression. It points out that the end-of-year deadline for fundraising is looming. “When we post a big number [for 2011’s fourth quarter], it will dispel the notion that this campaign doesn’t have the resources necessary to campaign nationally,” Gingrich states.

The former Speaker faced a further impediment to his momentum Tuesday when several media outlets reported that his bus tour of Iowa has been significantly downscaled since it was announced last week.

The Des Moines Register noted that Gingrich’s “Jobs and Prosperity” tour is now scheduled to make only 22 stops between now and the caucuses, rather than the 44 the candidate originally promised.

Other candidates are all hitting the road in Iowa with just one week left before the Jan. 3 caucuses. Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) were both speaking at events in the western Iowa city of Council Bluffs on Tuesday morning. Bachmann is in the concluding phase of a 10-day bus tour that, by its end, will see her visit every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. 

Also Tuesday morning, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) marked his 350th town-hall-style meeting in the Hawkeye State since he began campaigning there late last year.

Romney commences a bus tour of the state Tuesday evening in Davenport. Paul, who has recently been enjoying a polling surge in Iowa, holds three events Wednesday, including a town-hall meeting in Newton.