MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh went nuclear on Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday, laying into him for his attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's business career.
"He sounds like Elizabeth Warren," said Limbaugh, who devoted much of his show Tuesday to lambasting Gingrich, the former House Speaker.
Limbaugh played clips of Gingrich's remarks from earlier in the day, and said that the former House Speaker sounded like President Obama when he criticized Bain Capital, Romney's former company, for profiting too much from its takeovers of struggling companies.
"When you have to play Obama to translate what Newt just said, basically, 'Romney, it's okay they made that much, maybe it's okay they made that much, but at that point nobody needs to make that much, $180 million. No, you can leave some of that in there and not fire a bunch of people and what have you.' It's none of his business. It's none of the government's business," Limbaugh said.
"You could have read this in an Occupy Wall Street flyer," he thundered. "The left could not improve on this."
Gingrich himself has begun to focus his rhetorical fire on Romney's private equity background, and a super PAC supporting him is readying $3.4 million in TV ads to go up in South Carolina ahead of the Jan. 21 primary, along with a 27-minute propaganda film to be released online.
"The Newt PAC, I got an idea for you guys," Limbaugh said. "Re-cut your ads on Romney and your tagline is, 'I am Barack Obama, and I approve of this message.' Put that at the end of your ad. I'm considering what to do about this, folks. I know it's serious."
Limbaugh accused Gingrich of allowing his personal grievances to direct his actions, arguing that he has lost his bearings and is simply seeking revenge on Romney for the way in which a super Pac supporting Romney treated him in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses.
Gingrich's lead in the polls evaporated under a barrage of ads from the pro-Romney super PAC, leading him to complain bitterly about the onslaught. Now, however, Gingrich has netted $5 million from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and is well-equipped to hit back at Romney in South Carolina, where the next primary will take place.
"This is not a campaign for the presidency. That's not what this is anymore. This is payback time. This is Newt," Limbaugh said. "It drove him nuts, that series of ads the Romney super PAC ran against him in Iowa, and this is the result of it. That's why we are where we are."
Limbaugh's comments are the most forceful any prominent conservative has made on the issue, and they could represent a distinct break away from Gingrich's comments, which Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have echoed in the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary.
"Newt is not sounding like a conservative when he's making these attacks. He's not giving people reason to vote for him," Limbaugh said.
Though Limbaugh is not a fan of Romney's and has spoken negatively about him in the past, he ended up defending the former Massachusetts governor on his show Tuesday.
"So Romney is out there saying that he likes being able to fire people. Folks, don't we want somebody in the White House who's gonna fire people? How are we going to reduce the size of government? Don't we want somebody who loves firing people in the White House? Isn't that what we're all talking about here?" Limbaugh said, referring to Romney's verbal miscue on Monday.
"So here we got a guy, defends profits; we jump on him. We conservatives, Republicans, jump on him. We got a guy who talks about how much he likes firing people; we jump on him. I mean, there's all kinds of reasons to jump on Romney, but not for this."