WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich has called on a pro-Gingrich super PAC to edit a 28-minute film attacking Mitt Romney to "remove inaccuracies" and asked Romney to make the same public appeal to a super PAC supporting his presidential bid.
"This week, fact check organizations like The Washington Post and Politifact have ranked advertisements produced by Super-PACs supporting Governor Romney and myself as containing enormous inaccuracies," said Gingrich in a statement sent out by his campaign on Friday.
"I am calling for the Winning Our Future Super-PAC supporting me to either edit its 'King of Bain' advertisement and movie to remove its inaccuracies, or to pull it off the air and off the internet entirely," Gingrich said.
"Furthermore, I am once again calling on Governor Romney to issue a similar call for the Super-PAC supporting him to edit or remove its ads which have been shown to contain gross inaccuracies, something the Governor has thus far refused to do," Gingrich added.
An ad run by Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, was judged to contain misleading statements by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post. Romney has in fact decried the role of super PACs in this election, but he has not called on the super PAC to stop running its ads.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that Gingrich was "just distracted from the fact that the movie he has been touting for days -- including how well-sourced it is -- turned out to be full of blatant falsehoods and fabrications."
Saul pointed to the debate this past Sunday in Concord, N.H., in which Romney expressed opposition to falsehoods in ads run by the super PAC supporting him. "If there's anything in them that's wrong, I hope they take it out. I hope everything that's wrong ... is taken out," Romney said.
Rick Tyler, the former Gingrich aide now working for Winning Our Future, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gingrich's request.
To some extent, Gingrich's call for Winning Our Future to edit or take down its film and ads is a symbolic effort to catch a cat that is already out of the bag. The film attacking Romney's career at Bain Capital and the subsequent TV ads have been the focus of the news media for much of the past week.
But on Friday, Kessler gave the "King of Bain" film four Pinocchios on the Post fact-checking scale, one day after a CNN Money story by Fortune reporter Dan Primack presented a detailed critique of "a series of errors" in the attack film.
Some of the workers who lost jobs and were interviewed in the film told Kessler that they were paid to do the interviews and that their comments were "seriously taken out of context."
"There is a real lack of facts," said worker Mike Baxley.
Winning Our Future went on the air in South Carolina Tuesday with a 30-second ad and a 60-second ad, both using clips from the 28-minute film.
Romney's campaign hit back Friday by airing an ad of its own that defends Romney's record and slaps Gingrich without mentioning his name.
"We expected the Obama administration to put free markets on trial," the Romney ad says. "But as the Wall Street Journal said, 'Mr. Romney's GOP opponents are embarrassing themselves by taking the Obama line.'"
Gingrich's attacks and the pro-Gingrich super PAC's ads have already sparked a backlash from many corners of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. A spokesman for Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Gingrich's largest funder, tried to dissociate the businessman from Gingrich's actions in an interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Gingrich was asked about one of the pettier claims of the film, in which one of the women interviewed says that Romney has 15 houses. The former House speaker from Georgia told a radio talk show host, "I'm glad to say publicly they should take that out of the ad if that's in the ad."
In an interview with HuffPost late Thursday, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond joked that the super PAC "could put up a flashing banner that says the Romneys only own four houses."
"If something is proven to be factually wrong, they should correct it," Hammond added. "We said things should be factual and accurate. ... There is nothing more powerful than the truth. That's why we keep using it."
When questioned about the CNN Money column on Thursday night, Hammond directed questions to Tyler at Winning Our Future, saying he should be asked "to hand over the evidence that backs up the movie."
Tyler, when asked by HuffPost, sent over a list of 12 news clippings but no research document backing up each individual claim. "It's solid," he said of the film.
The clips Tyler sent did not provide direct answers to the detailed criticisms of the film by Kessler and Primack.
The film and the topic of Bain Capital continued to dominate the news cycle on Friday. The Obama campaign joined the debate, issuing a four-page memo that sought to contrast Romney with the president -- a preview of what a general election showdown would look like.
"President Obama -- who, like Mitt Romney, earned a degree from Harvard and all the opportunities that affords -- began his career helping jobless workers in the shadow of a closed-down steel mill. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, made millions closing down steel mills," wrote Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama's reelection effort.
The Romney campaign was happy to have Democratic voices chiming in. It sent around a clip of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka saying on TV that he agreed with Gingrich's attacks on Romney.
But one somewhat unexpected voice came to Romney's defense. Steven Rattner, Obama's former "car czar," who has spent much of his career in private equity, wrote a column arguing that Bain Capital was a "thoroughly respectable" firm.
"Bain Capital is not now, nor has it ever been, some kind of Gordon Gekko-like, fire-breathing corporate raider that slashed and burned companies, immolating jobs wherever they appear in its path," Rattner wrote. "Bain Capital's record was extraordinary, among the best in the business."
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