Among observers, it's widely considered an attack, but Newt Gingrich says calling Mitt Romney a "Massachusetts moderate" isn’t going negative, it’s merely an "accurate description of who he is."

While the Republican presidential candidate has loudly touted that he would run a positive campaign, and has instructed staffers and supporters not to criticize fellow Republicans, Gingrich has not backed down from calling Romney a "Massachusetts moderate," a seemingly pejorative phrase first offered up last week as Gingrich defended himself against Romney’s charges that Gingrich isn't conservative.

"When a Massachusetts moderate says I'm not conservative, it makes me want to laugh when he goes down that road," Gingrich told radio talk host Tony Powers.

On Monday, Gingrich Communications Director Joe DeSantis transformed the characterization into opposition research, sending reporters a press release mocking a Romney ad in which the former Massachusetts governor touts himself as a "conservative businessman."

"Can we trust a Massachusetts moderate to enact a conservative agenda?" DeSantis asked.

"Our campaign might have plenty of things to say about that but the best response certainly comes from Mitt Romney himself," he continued, inserting a video link to a Romney clip.

In the video, Romney says, "I think people recognize that I am not a partisan Republican. That I'm someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.'"

On Friday, the former House speaker also challenged a reporter who declared the term "Massachusetts moderate" to be a criticism.

"I didn’t criticize him, I described him accurately ... how could you think that was a criticism?" Gingrich asked with a smile on his face. Pressed further, Gingrich pleaded innocent.

"Wait, wait. 'Massachusetts moderate' is a negative?” he asked.

"It is if you're running in the Republican primary,” the reporter responded, to which Gingrich told him that maybe he should ask Romney how he feels about the label.