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Jim Cole, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 in Concord, N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. — Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich touched down in New Hampshire on Wednesday and wasted no time launching a blistering attack on Mitt Romney in what is essentially the former Massachusetts governor's home turf.

Displaying a tough new tone following a disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa's caucuses, Gingrich argued that three out of four Republicans rejected Romney and called the caucus winner "a moderate Massachusetts Republican to the left of the vast majority of Republicans."

"The fact is, Gov. Romney has a very limited appeal in a conservative party," Gingrich said.

Gingrich broke a pledge to run a positive campaign, although he didn't see it that way. The former House speaker contended that as long as he stuck to facts and accurately portrayed Romney's record — in recent days he has called Romney a liar in regard to Gingrich's own record — the strategy was not negative.

Following a campaign stop at an education forum in Concord, Gingrich told reporters that he is a strong conservative who has actually changed Washington. Romney, he said, was once an independent who repudiated Reagan-Bush policies, voted for "liberal" Paul Tsongas in 1993 and "ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy" in a Senate race.

The pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future posted online a 2008 ad from John McCain's primary campaign highlighting Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gun rights and on being a Republican.

McCain endorsed Romney on Wednesday in New Hampshire. But in 2008 they were rivals for the GOP nomination for president and the McCain camp pummeled him for swapping positions.

"Mitt Romney's flip-flops truly are masterpieces," the ad concludes.

Gingrich didn't congratulate Romney Tuesday night in Iowa and declined an opportunity to do so Wednesday in New Hampshire.

"I know that's a rhetorical question," Gingrich told a reporter who asked why he hadn't offered the traditional postelection congratulations to the victor.

"I suspect it's going to be a very lively campaign. I am delighted to be in New Hampshire to talk about big ideas, big solutions and a big contrast," he said.

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