Money and Democracy

Published — December 8, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Pro-Romney group trashes Gingrich in new ad

Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate Mary Schwalm/AP

Independent spending group goes negative on Gingrich to help Romney


A so-called “super PAC” aligned with Mitt Romney has crafted a devastating new ad taking aim at Newt Gingrich – one which may have been accidentally leaked online.

The ad, called “Smiling,” was paid for by the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, according to the online video. iWatch News reporters viewed the ad on YouTube Thursday night.

The ad, slickly produced, opens with a shot of President Obama, while the narrator asks “Why is this man smiling?” Then, as a shot of Gingrich appears, the narrator continues: “Because his plan is working: Brutally attack Mitt Romney, and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent. Why? Newt has a ton of baggage.”

The minute-long ad is clearly designed to weaken Gingrich who is leading in the polls in Iowa and South Carolina as well as in some national polls. The ad, which had barely been viewed, and had not been previously reported on, was quickly pulled offline after an iWatch News reporter reached Carl Forti, a co-founder of Restore Our Future.

Experts have been waiting to see when Restore Our Future, which raised upwards of $12 million in the first six months of the year, would start spending. The group launched its first advertisement, as part of a $3.1 campaign in Iowa Thursday. Notably, that ad did not mention Gingrich, who has surged past Romney in polls over the past two weeks.

Among the “baggage” listed in the 62-second spot was Gingrich being fined $300,000 for ethics violations while in Congress; taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac just before “it helped” cause the financial meltdown; and accepting $37 million from health care and industry groups.

It also lists a number of stands Gingrich has taken, including “amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants”; that he teamed up with Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore on global warming; and that he was a longtime supporter of a national health insurance mandate, “the centerpiece of Obamacare.”

The ad directs viewers to “” which required a password to view as of Thursday night.

Reached by phone as he was walking into a Christmas party, Forti declined to comment on when the ad might be running or where.

When asked whether GOP ad man Larry McCarthy, another co-founder of Restore Our Future, created the ad, Forti also declined to comment. Minutes later, the ad was pulled offline.

Among the donors to Restore Our Future are several wealthy individuals who kicked in $1 million each – including hedge fund mogul John Paulson.

The pro-Romney organization was the first candidate-specific presidential super PAC to be created this year in the wake of the controversial Citizens United decision in early 2010. The ruling allowed corporations and unions to make unlimited donations to outside groups for ads that call for the election or defeat of a candidate.

But election law bars these outside groups from coordinating their ads and activities with the candidates and their campaigns.

As iWatch News first reported earlier this year, Romney attended at least one fundraiser for the super PAC in New York in July where he thanked a few dozen donors and potential donors for attending and left.

Federal Election Commission rules have left considerable leeway on the fundraising side however for candidates such as Romney to go to events for their super PACs just as long as they don’t ask for unlimited sums, but only donations up to $5,000.

Similarly in the last few months, Restore Our Future’s fundraising has been spearheaded by Steve Roche, who joined the team in the summer after leaving the Romney campaign where he had been a top fundraiser.

John Dunbar contributed to this report.

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