Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of "defending the right to lie" and "drowning people in dirt" in a guns-blazing rebuttal of the former Massachusetts governor's attack ads in early campaign states.

"I have faith that the people of Iowa can see baloney, they understand baloney, this is baloney, they want the real thing," Gingrich said during an interview Wednesday on the Laura Ingraham show. "Newt Gingrich has actually balanced the budget, reformed welfare, cut taxes. I'm prepared to run a campaign of honesty and a campaign of facts and a campaign of positive ideas. And I think people are going to look up in this kind of economy with this kind of deficit and this kind of president — we don't need to replace Obama's dishonesty with a Republican who is equally dishonest."


Gingrich's campaign has made a coordinated effort to push back on the ads, funded by a political action committee supporting Romney, that have flooded the airwaves in early voting states. Gingrich's once-ballooning poll numbers have deflated in the past week as the former House Speaker has struggled to combat the tough campaigning; a Rasmussen poll released Wednesday showed the former House Speaker trailing both Romney, by seven points, and Ron Paul, by 3 percent.

"Romney has $1.4 million in negative ads next week in Iowa. Now, that is a level of drowning people in dirt that is an embarrassment to the American system," Gingrich said.

"I've had a whole number of candidates — when you are out here in Iowa and people say to you, 'I've gotten robo-phone calls that are negative, I've gotten mail that is negative, I've gotten six ads in a row in an hour that are negative,' you take a temporary hit," he added.

Earlier Wednesday, Gingrich's campaign circulated a rebuttal to the latest ad by the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future. That ad insinuates that Gingrich lobbied on behalf of troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac, worked with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on global warming legislation and co-sponsored a bill providing aid for a program that supported China's "one-child" policy.

The Gingrich campaign said the ad "contains numerous lies and falsehoods."

Romney, meanwhile, has suggested that his tough ads are simply preparing Gingrich for what would be a tough battle with President Obama.

“This is politics, and if you can't stand the heat in this little kitchen, wait until the Obama hell's kitchen turns up the heat,” Romney said Wednesday morning on Fox News.

Gingrich was asked to respond to Romney's comments on Ingraham's show.

"My response to it is, defending the right to lie as a candidate is a pretty bad idea," Gingrich said. "The Washington Post just gave the newest Romney ad four Pinocchios. Do you know how hard it is to write and run an ad that has four Pinocchios? That means there's no honesty in the ad, except maybe the tagline."

Gingrich was also asked about the suggestion by MSNBC contributor Meghan McCain — daughter of the former GOP presidential candidate — that his wife, Callista, was "icy."

"Ha. Well, listen, let's be fair. By the standards of MSNBC she [McCain] is a conservative thinker," Gingrich quipped.