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Video: Romney: Gingrich attacks ‘painful to watch’

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    >>> governor mitt romney joins us now from jacksonville, florida . good morning, governor.

    >> thanks, matt. good to be with you.

    >> nine days ago you took a drubbing in south carolina . now according to most of the polls you have opened up a substantial lead in florida . in your opinion, what is behind the dramatic turn anin momentum?

    >> two things. we were being whaled on by speaker gingrich and didn't respond well in south carolina . so we decided to respond. secondly, we made it clear if people want change in washington you have to bring in someone from outside washington . both the change in tactic as well as the message have had a real impact in florida .

    >> you say you were getting whaled on in south carolina . fascinating article on the front page of the new york times yesterday. some of your advisers spoke on the record about the turnaround in momentum. here's how the writer summed it up. quote, if mr. romney does win here on tuesday it will have been through a blistering and unrelenting series of attacks. his campaign has pressed everything at its disposal into service to eviscerate mr. gingrich , painting him as an erratic, unreliable washington insider in mailings and television advertisements and at two critical debates here. even sending supporters to mock him at his own events. what's your response?

    >> no question that politics ain't bean bags . we have made sure our message is out loud and clear. the speaker has been attacking me all over the state in ways that are extraordinary. in some respects painful to watch because it's so revealing of him. the fact is he worked with hundreds of people in washington . only a handful of those people are willing to support him. he's a nice fellow, but his leadership capability has been called into question by virtue of people who worked with him.

    >> what surprised me about the article, one was that so many advisers were willing to speak on the record about tactics you may continue using and it paints the picture that your turn around in the polls is a result of their diabolical brilliance and less about your connecting with voters in florida .

    >> i think you can expect advisers to think the work of advisers is very, very important. if you were to look at where sentiment changed it was with the debates. we had two debates. icon fronted speaker gingrich . he said, let's not talk about the things i have been saying about you, governor romney . i said, no, no, let me respond. i pushed back on the attacks, launched my own message to the people in florida .

    >> right.

    >> pointed out that speaker gingrich was paid by freddie mac to be a spokesman for them and the people understood that and came to my side.

    >> he's proved to be resilient in the past coming back on more than one occasion. is the message now that you will continue to pound away at speaker gingrich well into the spring no matter how the caucuses and primaries are going?

    >> i anticipate doing well. we have a number of states coming up. i think i will do well in them. i'm going to do the work that's necessary to get my message out and talk about the change that has to be brought to washington to get jobs back to this country. how it gets done and the mess sanls are connecting with people. my expectation is i will become the nominee. however long it takes i will keep on balting.

    >> your campaign released an ad about newt gingrich 's fall from grace in the 1990s and the entire ad is basically -- a colleague of mine, tom brokaw recounting the fact that newt gingrich was asked to step down as house speaker on ethics charges. nbc news, as you know, has asked you to pull the ad. tom brokaw released a statement saying, quote, i'm uncomfortable with the use of my image in this ad. i do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign. will your campaign withdraw the ad?

    >> we'll sit down with the lawyers, talk to the folks at nbc and make a decision on that front. i think the reason it was so effective as an ad was this is not something which speaker gingrich could say was distorted or romney was saying things not accurate. this is the news from the night when the speaker was sanctioned, reprimanded eed by his own members. people heard the news. straight on. no heavy music that suggested a sinister background. instead, tom brokaw , a credible and respected journalist, reporting the news. i think it was devastating and pointed out what speaker gingrich was trying to hide is in the open.

    >> you will consider pulling it if that's what the decision of the campaign is?

    >> we'll certainly consider it very carefully. obviously this was not something taken from hidden files . this was on the evening news. so it should hardly come as a revealing piece for people who watch it.

    >> thanks for your time this morning. i really appreciate it.

    >> thanks, matt. good to be

TODAY contributor
updated 1/30/2012 9:26:00 AM ET 2012-01-30T14:26:00

Mitt Romney's team plans to meet with NBC to address the network's request his campaign pull an ad attacking Newt Gingrich that uses NBC Nightly News footage from 1997.

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"We will sit down with the lawyers and talk to the folks at NBC and make a decision on that front," Romney told Matt Lauer on TODAY from Jacksonville, Fla., where he is campaigning in advance of Tuesday's primary.

Video: Romney: Gingrich attacks ‘painful to watch’ (on this page)

"We'll certainly consider that very carefully; obviously, this was not something taken from hidden files, this was on the evening news, so it should hardly come as a revealing piece for people who watch it."

In the Romney ad, then-NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw delivers the news that Gingrich had been sanctioned by members of the Republican Party and had been asked to step down as Speaker of the House. It is one of a series of ads the Romney campaign has employed against Gingrich to slow down his momentum following his victory in the South Carolina GOP primary.

Story: NBC asks Romney campaign to remove network material from ad

While the ads are apparently working — a new NBC News/Marist poll shows Romney leading Gingrich by 15 points in Florida — NBC has asked for the Nightly News footage to be pulled. "The NBC Legal Department has written a letter to the campaign asking for the removal of all NBC News material from their campaign ads," said Lauren Kapp, NBC senior vice president for marketing and communications.

Brokaw has also voiced discomfort with appearing in the ad. "I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad. I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain in any campaign."

But Romney told Lauer Monday he believes the TV ad hits Gingrich where it hurts — and since it is newscast footage, the Gingrich campaign cannot accuse him of distorting his record.

Video: Romney takes wide lead in new NBC poll (on this page)

"I think the reason it was so effective as an ad was that this was not something that Speaker Gingrich could say had been distorted or that Romney was telling things that were not accurate," Romney said.

"People heard the news, they didn't hear it filtered, it was just straight on, no heavy music that suggested some kind of sinister background. Instead, (it is) Tom Brokaw, a very credible and respected journalist, reporting the news and I think it was pretty devastating and pointed out that what Speaker Gingrich has been trying to hide is not out in the open."

Lauer asked Romney if he believed his lead in the Florida polls comes more from his getting his message out or instead, tearing down Gingrich. Romney replied, "Well, there's no question politics ain't bean bags. The speaker has been attacking me all over the state in ways that are really extraordinary," Romney said, adding, "The fact is he worked with hundreds of people in Washington, and only a handful of people are willing to support him."

Romney uses 'history,' surrogates against Gingrich in Fla. campaign's final days

In a report in Sunday's New York Times, Romney campaign advisor David Kochel called the pressure campaign it launched on Gingrich in Florida a "let's rush the quarterback" strategy. And the Times suggested that "if Romney does win here on Tuesday, it will have been through a blistering and unrelenting series of attacks."

Romney told Lauer his campaign is merely fighting fire with fire, as the former speaker's hard-hitting TV ads against Romney paved the way for his victory in South Carolina.

Slideshow: Mitt Romney's life in politics (on this page)

"We were getting just walked on by Speaker Gingrich and really didn't respond very well in South Carolina," he said. "So we decided, we're going to respond."

He added, "These messages I think are connecting with people and my expectation is I will become the nominee. So however long that takes I'm going to keep on battling."

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Mitt Romney

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  1. Mitt Romney at the age of 1, in 1948, the son of the eventual three-term Republican governor of Michigan and unsuccessful presidential candidate, George Romney, and his wife, Lenore, an unsuccessful candidate for senator from Michigan. (MittRomney.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mitt with his father, George Romney, taken about 1957. (MittRomney.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. American Motors President George Romney with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Mitt Romney's father was elected governor of Michigan in 1962. Mitt was an intern in the governor's office and traveled with his father to the 1964 Republican National Convention. (Francis Miller / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Image) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Mitt Romney, at left, with fellow Mormon missionaries in front of the police station in Limoges, central France, in autumn 1968. The fresh-faced Latter-Day Saints who came to France in the late 1960s to preach the message of Jesus Christ -- of which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the most well-known -- discovered a secular and skeptical populace, and few willing converts. On bad days, the young Americans were greeted with guns, or barking dogs chased at their heels. Romney has said his mission, which took him through LeHavre, Paris and Bordeaux, was a testing time, with rejection an everyday occurrence. But it was precisely this two and half years that helped cement Romney's tenacity and his faith, say current and former missionaries. (Mike Bush via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mitt and Ann Lois Davies on their wedding day, March 21, 1969. They first met in elementary school, but started dating in the spring of 1965. Later Ann suffered from multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. (MittRomney.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Mitt and Ann Romney with their five sons in 1981: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig. (MittRomney.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Mitt Romney, CEO and president of Salt Lake Organizing Committee, joins U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Jan. 22, 2002 at a press conference ahead of the city's Olympic Games. Before Romney came on, the event was running $379 million behind budget and allegations of bribery shook the organization's top brass. Romney was also tasked with keeping the games safe in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. (George Frey / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Former Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney, with his wife Ann, speaks at a press conference on March 19, 2002 at his home in Belmont, Mass. Romney announced that he was entering the governor's race. The announcement came just hours after acting Gov. Jane Swift announced she will bow out of the contest. (Darren McCollester / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. President George W. Bush stands beside Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney at the Seaport Hotel on Oct. 4 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bush was campaigning in the Bay State as Republicans attempted to extend a 12-year grip on the governorship of this otherwise Democratic-controlled commonwealth. Romney went on to serve as governor from 2003-2007. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Two men on opposite sides of the issue argue over gay marriage outside the Massachusetts State House while the legislature was in its second day of debate over a possible constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on Feb. 12, 2004 in Boston. The proposed amendment, supported by Gov. Mitt Romney, was drafted in response to a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling declaring that the right to same-sex marriage was protected by the state's constitution. (Michael Springer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Photographs of the victims line the stage as Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, his wife Suzanne, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann bow their heads in prayer during a memorial service on the eve of the one-year anniversary of The Station nightclub fire Feb. 19, 2004 in Cranston, R.I. The Station, located in nearby West Warwick, was destroyed and 100 people died after a fire broke out when the rock band Great White ignited pyrotechnics on Feb. 20, 2003. (Michael Springer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mitt Romney looks on while Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation John Cogliano speaks during a press conference at the Statehouse in Boston. Governor Romney announced on July 13, 2006 that he was filing emergency legislation to give the Executive Branch the authority to oversee the inspection of the failed ceiling system in the I-90 Connector tunnel. A large section of the "Big Dig" tunnel was found to be faulty after a 12-ton portion collapsed, killing a woman and injuring her husband. (Darren Mccollester / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Romney signs into law a new health care reform bill during a ceremony at Faneuil Hall April 12, 2006 in Boston. The late Sen. Edward Kennedy joined Romney for the signing of the bill, which made Massachusetts the first state in the country to require all residents have health insurance. His support of a plan that many feel was an inspiration for "Obamacare" has put the Republican on the defensive ahead of the 2012 elections. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Romney and his wife Ann turn to wave from the red carpet in front of the Statehouse, in Boston, as he completes his "lone walk" out on Jan. 3, 2007, the day before his replacement, Deval Patrick, is sworn in as the new governor. (Steven Senne / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Romney officially announces he is entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination Feb. 13, 2007 at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Romney kicked off his three-day, four state announcement tour of Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, addressing the need to build a "new American dream" by strengthening families and education. (Bill Pugliano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Romney speaks on faith in America at The George Bush Presidential Library on Texas A & M University campus Dec. 6, 2007 in College Station, Texas. Romney talked about the role of religion in government and his Mormon faith. As a young missionary, Romney spent several years in France. (Ben Sklar / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Romney speaks, alongside his sons and wife, during a post-primary rally on Jan. 29, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Romney came in second to John McCain. Days earlier, McCain took the South Carolina primary, where Romney placed fourth. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Trailing John McCain following the Super Tuesday presidential primaries, Romney calls it quits during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee on Feb. 7, 2008 in Washington. He's seen here, waving goodbye to the crowd with his wife Ann. (Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Romney shakes hands with Sen. John McCain after endorsing his presidential bid in Boston on Feb. 14, 2008. Romney had just ended his own, unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination. All in all, Romney won 11 primaries and caucuses and was considered to be on McCain's short-list for vice president. (Darren Mccollester / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Romney reacts to the crowd on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center on Sept. 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minn. Having failed in his own bid to headline the party ticket, Romney threw his support toward John MCCain, who was officially nominated on the last day of the convention. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," written by Romney, is seen in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2010. The major theme of the book is the idea of American exceptionalism - meant to address Romney's belief that President Barack Obama spends too much time abroad apologizing for past national trangressions. (Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Volunteers participate in a Mitt Romney phone bank fundraiser, Monday, May 16, 2011, in Las Vegas. The former Massachusetts governor worked with volunteers to reach out to voters and donors through cell phones and computers. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announces he joining the race for President of the United States, June 2, 2011, during a campaign event at Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H. (Stephan Savoia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann embrace at the Hotel Fort Des Moines on the night of the Iowa Caucuses Jan. 3, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. On the night of the Iowa contest, Mitt Romney was projected the winner by a mere eight votes, but on Jan. 19, the Iowa GOP declared that after certifying the results, Santorum had officially won the primary by 34 votes. (Win Mcnamee / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Former presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, announces his endorsement of Mitt Romney during a town hall meeting at Central High School Jan. 4, 2012 in Manchester, N.H. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Romney takes center stage during his primary night rally with members of his family, left to right, Matt, Tagg, Craig, wife Ann, Ben and Josh Romney following the first-in-the-nation primary at Southern New Hampshire University Jan. 10, 2012 in Manchester, N.H. Romney finished first in the state's primary election with 39% of the vote and collected seven delegates. (Win Mcnamee / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Mitt Romney waves to supporters behind him as he takes the podium on primary night in Columbia, South Carolina on Jan. 21, 2012. Romney conceded defeat in the South Carolina primary to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who came from behind to beat him by 12 percent. (Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Romney shakes hands with supporters at his Florida primary night rally in Tampa, Jan. 31. Romney beat his four opponents and collected the state's 50 delegates, putting him in the lead with 87 delegates, ahead of Newt Gingrich's 26. (Steve Nesius / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Mitt Romney shakes hands with businessman and real estate developer Donald Trump at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Feb. 2. Trump re-injected himself and his wealth into the Republican presidential race by endorsing Romney, a day after the front-runner stumbled with remarks suggesting he was indifferent to America's poor. (Steve Marcus / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets his wife and family along with vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, his wife and family on stage after accepting the nomination at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, in Tampa, Florida. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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