Romney: You know who's a very wealthy man? Newt Gingrich

He brought up Newt’s Tiffany expenses not once but twice today, first with CBS and then again during his radio chat with Hannity this afternoon. (Audio here.) At first blush this looks like he’s pulling a tu quoque as damage control following his dopey $10,000 bet offer at the debate on Saturday night, but I don’t think he’s worried much about that. It was tin-eared, and the competition’s bound to tweak him for it, but the election won’t turn on goofy stage theatrics. What’s panicking him, I think, was Gingrich’s attack on Monday about him “bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain.” Kennedy used that against Romney in 1994 with great success and the class-warrior-in-chief is going to hammer him relentlessly for it in the general if Mitt makes it that far. It’s not an attack on Romney’s wealth (although that’s implied) so much as a claim about his supposed callousness towards the working class, which of course has extra bite in an economy as desperate as this one. Huckabee once laid Romney out in classic Huckabee-an class-warrior style by saying that Mitt looks like the guy who laid you off whereas Huck looks like the guy you work with. That line won’t quite work for Obama — he looks like the guy whose lectures put you to sleep in class — but the part about Romney is going straight into Axelrod’s playbook, along with all the copies of this photo that Obama’s fundraising can buy. And Mitt knows it, of course, which is why Gingrich’s attack has him unnerved and jabbing back now with reminders that Newt has plenty of dough too. I don’t know why he’s hitting him for having money, which isn’t really the point of the Bain Capital criticism, instead of focusing on the fact of his connection to Freddie Mac while it was busy helping to drive the planet into recession. Maybe he thinks it’s unfair to blame Gingrich for that? We’ll see how fair he thinks it is two weeks from now when he’s still third in Iowa.