Newt Gingrich, after being asked why voters should choose him and not Mitt Romney.
"First of all, I have a lifetime record of being a consistent conservative.... Second, for us to win this election, we have to undo Obama's $1 billion campaign by debating him head-to-head, and I think most people agree I would be the most effective and articulate at communicating our values and our philosophy.
And third, I have a track record in Washington. I balanced the budget for four consecutive years working with Bill Clinton.... I helped pass the first big entitlement reform..."
You know what's striking? Newt is still using really positive rhetoric. His comment about having "a lifetime record of being a consistent conservative" can be seen as an implicit shot at Romney, but he didn't even mention Mitt's name.
The only time he mentioned Romney in the entire three point argument was here:
"Governor Romney is a very smart man and a very good manager, but he's had no experience on the scale of change we're describing, and I think he'd be very good as a manager if that's what Washington needs, but I think we need a change agent who's going to substantially put America back on the right track, and in that area, I just think I have more vastly more experience than he does."
Part of me thinks that Newt is reluctant to attack because he knows that he's probably more vulnerable to personal attacks than anyone in the race, and it helps to have as positive a conversation as possible.
But who knows, it could be that he's running that campaign of ideas that he always talked about.
The big question is whether he'll start making increasingly bold contrasts (i.e. attacks) as he solidifies his status as a top-tier candidate.