Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich seemed to admit Wednesday that he went to far attacking frontrunner Mitt Romney's career in the private sector.
Responding to a Rick Santorum supporter at a book signing in South Carolina, Gingrich said that going after Romney's record at Bain Capital wasn't the best route of criticism because it echoed Democrats' rhetoric, Politico reported.
"I'm here to implore one thing of you. I think you've missed the target on the way you're addressing Romney's weaknesses. I want to beg you to redirect and go after his obvious disingenuousness about his conservatism and lay off the corporatist versus the free market. I think it's nuanced," said Dean Glossop, according to Politico.
"I agree with you," Gingrich said.
"Obama just makes it impossible to talk rationally in that area because he is so deeply into class warfare," he continued.
However, Gingrich's campaign said that the report in Politico misrepresented the former House speaker's words, adding that the candidate will continue to go after Mitt Romney's record in private equity.
"The phrase 'I crossed the line' was never uttered from Newt, despite the headline from Politico," the Gingrich campaign said.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond issued a statement doubling down on the campaign's critique of Romney, trying to demonstrate that Gingrich is not backing off.
"This issue at hand is neither about Bain Capital, private equity firms, nor about capitalism. It is about Mitt Romney's judgment and character," said Hammond.
It was Governor Romney's decision to base his candidacy, in large part, on his background as a portfolio manager. Thus, it is entirely legitimate to ask questions about whether he is accurately presenting how he conducted himself during that career.
Reports by the Wall Street Journal and others contradict Governor Romney's claims that it was his goal at Bain Capital to make companies more successful. In fact, there were cases where Bain Capital made huge profits and left companies bankrupt. Further reports have cast doubt on Governor Romney's claim that he was responsible for 100,000 jobs being created thanks to his work at Bain Capital.
Instead of accepting the responsibility to answer questions about his business background, the Romney campaign is throwing up a smokescreen about an attack on capitalism. That's just more pious baloney from Mitt Romney and his campaign.
It's clear that Gingrich does not want to be seen as letting up on Romney attacks, even as he fine tunes his criticism in response to a strong backlash from well-known conservative voices, such as Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal.
Meghan Neal contributed reporting.