Romney campaign says Gingrich is a 'desperate candidate'

The rhetorical attacks between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich escalated Tuesday, with the press secretary for the Romney campaign dismissing Gingrich as a "desperate candidate."

"Speaker Gingrich is a desperate candidate trying to revive his failing campaign," Andrea Saul said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Jansing & Co."

Saul was responding to an email sent out Monday in which Gingrich Communications Director Joe DeSantis wrote, "Can we trust a Massachusetts moderate to enact a conservative agenda?" reported MSNBC.

"If you want to talk about someone who's been an unreliable conservative — Speaker Gingrich sat down on a couch with Nancy Pelosi at the behest of Al Gore to talk about global warming and support cap and trade," Saul said.

Gingrich has repeatedly been attacked by opponents for the 2008 ad he participated in with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling for action on climate change. He has disowned the TV spot, calling it one of the dumbest things he's done.

"He's an unreliable leader, he's an unreliable conservative, so it's no surprise that he's flailing right now and trying to attack Gov. Romney," Saul said.

Both Romney's and Gingrich's campaigns have traded shots in recent weeks over which candidate has the stronger conservative credentials.

Romney slammed the former House Speaker as an "unreliable leader" in an interview with the Washington Post earlier this month.

"He has been an extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world — not 16 or 17 years ago, but in the last two to three years,” Romney, formerly governor of Massachusetts, said in the interview. “And even during the campaign, the number of times he has moved from one spot to another has been remarkable. I think he’s shown a level of unreliability as a conservative leader today.”

Gingrich tried to paint Romney as "moderate" on taxes and reforming the Federal Reserve during his bus tour in Iowa, which began this week.

"I stand in the Ronald Reagan tradition of dramatically lower tax rates, less regulations, more American energy and strong dollar monetary policies at the Federal Reserve to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Gingrich in an email sent out by his campaign Tuesday that featured the Republican hopeful's remarks from the campaign trail. "Governor Romney’s plan is much more moderate — it has higher tax rates, more regulation and maintains the status quo at the Federal Reserve."

Saul also responded Tuesday to an old video clip that surfaced of Romney in which he calls himself "moderate" and "progressive."

"Anyone that wants to know how Governor Romney would govern — they need to look no further than his record in Massachusetts. ... Everything he did was as a conservative," said Saul on Fox News Tuesday. 

For the latest on Saul's defense of her boss, see The Hill's GOP12 complete coverage.