Newt Gingrich’s positive campaign expired today. It was pronounced dead at 10:12 AM, Monday morning, after reports surfaced that the candidate accused rival Mitt Romney of amassing a fortune off the misery of laid-off workers.
The fatal moment came after Gingrich was asked by reporters whether he should return some of his reported $1.6 million in consulting fees from housing giant Freddie Mac in light of the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse.
“I would just say that if Gov. Romney would like to give back all of the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him,” Gingrich told reporters in New Hampshire after a town hall. “I’ll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer,” he continued.
Gingrich has up to this point made an ostentatious display of his positive campaign, repeatedly pledging to refrain from attacks against Romney and other rivals even as they pile on him in debates, ads, and public statements. But the slap at Romney’s time at Bain, a general election vulnerability that’s rarely come up in the more investor-friendly Republican primary, suggests he may be departing from that strategy.
Update: Now with video, courtesy of TIME.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.