By Andy Kroll
The GOP candidate might've swung too far right with his new Paul Ryan-themed strategy.
On Thursday, Mitt Romney took arguably the biggest leap of his presidential campaign. Struggling to catch fire with conservative voters, the Romney campaign launched a full frontal attack on Newt Gingrich, who recently displaced the former Massachusetts governor as the presidential front-runner. But Team Romney didn't blast Gingrich for his messy personal life or his politically inconvenient views on climate change and immigration. Instead, it ripped Gingrich for criticizing Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan that would, among other changes, dismantle Medicare as we know it. More importantly, the attack defined Romney as an ardent supporter of Ryan's hugely controversial proposal.
Romney's attacks came as no surprise. With the Iowa caucuses three weeks away, he trails Gingrich in numerous state and national polls. His campaign's attacks on the former House speaker are intended to woo conservative voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and help clinch his party's nomination. But questions remain amid all the buzz surrounding Romney's latest move: In trying to define himself, did Romney shift too far to the right by embracing the Ryan plan, when he could've bashed Gingrich on less toxic issues? And if Romney wins the nomination, does his embrace of the Ryan plan gift Democrats the ultimate line of attack?