The intensely personal and negative Florida primary took a step towards high school pettiness Tuesday night when it was discovered that Newt Gingrich did not call to congratulate Mitt Romney on his huge win.
When Romney was asked about the situation Wednesday morning, he shrugged it off — but also used the slight as an opportunity to take one last shot at the former House Speaker he so shellacked among Florida Republican voters.
“I guess Speaker Gingrich doesn’t have our phone number,” Romney told NBC. If Romney doesn’t seem fazed, that could be because he knows a thing or two about not calling the victor of a nasty presidential primary fight.
According to Mike Huckabee, Romney was the only one of the major contenders for the GOP nomination in 2008 not to call on caucus night in 2008, when Huckabee won the victory over Romney that was seen as blunting Romney’s momentum against John McCain. The race was an ugly one at times, and Romney took some blows. And, according to Huckabee, he never picked up the phone afterwards.
Here’s Huckabee recounting caucus night in his 2008 book, “Do The Right Thing:
The call from Romney never came, which we took as a sign of total disrespect — something that would continue to be a source of angst among our team, even though we had grown used to this kind of treatment from the Romney camp.
Huckabee then goes on to recount going on stage to give his acceptance speech despite the snub from Romney. Some contemporaneous accounts of the evening found on NEXIS Wednesday backed up Huckabee’s telling that he got calls from McCain and Rudy Giuliani before going on stage but don’t mention a Romney call specifically.
Last night, the Romney campaign noted both that Gingrich had failed to call after Romney beat him in New Hampshire — and that Romney had called Gingrich in South Carolina after Gingrich won, perhaps trying to avoid another book passage like the one from Huckabee.
In any case, Romney made it clear he wasn’t bothered by Gingrich’s lack of manners in an interview with CNN Wednesday morning. Asked if Gingrich’s decision not to call offended him, Romney said no while taking a subtle dig at his rival.
“No. As has been said long ago, politics ain’t bean bags,” Romney said. “We’re battling to become the nominee. He’s going to do it the way he thinks is best. I’ll do it the way I think is best.”
Tom Kludt contributed from New York.