WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared on Sunday that Newt Gingrich has been "an embarrassment" to the Republican Party who didn't have the background or capacity to serve as an effective president.
Appearing on "Meet the Press," the top Mitt Romney surrogate didn't refrain from sharp character attacks.
"I think Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time," Christie said. "Whether he'll do it again in the future, I don't know. But Gov. Romney never has."
And he went on from there.
"We all know the record," Christie said. "He was run out of the speakership by his own party. He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations. This is a guy who has had a very difficult political career at times and has been an embarrassment to the party ... I don't need to regale the country with that entire list again except to say this: I'm not saying he will do it again in the future, but sometimes past is prologue."
When it comes to Romney campaign attacks on Gingrich, this pushes the envelope a bit. But that's the role that surrogates are supposed to play and few can thrust the knife with as much gusto as Christie. The New Jersey governor did go on to unenthusiastically state that, "sure," Gingrich could beat Obama in a general election race. But it was clear from his tone that the race to become the nominee to face Obama is about to get a lot more personal.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" earlier on Sunday morning, Gingrich addressed some of the issues that Christie referenced. Here's a selection from the transcript:
Now, my taxes are posted at Newt.org. You can go see them. I helped found -- I helped create the Thomas system. You can go online. You can see a 1,300-page report on the ethics investigation.
By the way, it's been pointed out that in every single count, I was exonerated. And, in fact, after the case, remember that Nancy Pelosi and others were on that committee. After the case, a federal judge, the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service -- all three exonerated me. So this was a political game.