At the big CNN Debate in Florida Thursday, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich got into a back-and-forth over immigration. At one point, Romney’s tough ad attacking Gingrich for saying “Spanish is the language of the ghetto” came up, with moderator Wolf Blitzer asking Romney to repeat the charge.
“I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry, I don’t get to see all the TV ads,” Romney said. “Did he say that?”
The fact that Gingrich did say something like that is a bit awkward for Gingrich, and has been for quite a while. But there was plenty of awkward to go around: Turns out the ad Romney said he’s never heard of is running on the radio from his campaign — and Romney’s voice, in Spanish, is on the end saying he approved it.
Here’s the video of Romney’s exchanges with Blitzer:
And here’s the Spanish language ad itslef, as posted to the Romney campaign YouTube account:
Update: According to Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney saw the ad in question but didn’t remember it.
“We’ve had about 85 web videos, radio ads, and TV spots that have been up and running which he has reviewed and approved,” Fehrnstrom told TPM. “He doesn’t recall every single one of them, but in this particular instance it was a radio ad that ran on Spanish stations and it made reference to the fact that Newt Gingrich had once referred to Spanish as the language of the ghetto. And Politifact looked at that ad, they looked at that specific claim, and they rated it mostly true.”
Nonetheless, Newt surrogates raised the exchange after the debate.
“Classic case,” Gingrich backer Fred Thompson said, “Putting out ads on the radio that are false accusing Gingrich of things and then having the candiate stand up there and go ‘Oh, I didn’t approve that, I don’t know anything about that,’ while millions of dollars are being spent on a ground game and an ad game by him and on his behalf.”