Newt Gingrich has removed an ad calling Mitt Romney the "most anti-immigrant candidate" in the race, after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has decided not to endorse anyone, denounced the ad and called it "inflammatory."
"We respect Senator Rubio tremendously and will remove the ad from the rotation" until it is edited to remove the offending language, said Jose Mallea, Gingrich's Florida campaign state director.
Rubio, whose parents immigrated from Cuba, criticized the ad as unfortunate and inaccurate, telling the Miami Herald that the Gingrich ad not only doesn't belong in the campaign, but adopts the language of the left in casting Republicans as against newcomers to the nation.
"The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant," Rubio told the newspaper. "Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community."
Mallea told Fox News that the rest of the ad shows that Gingrich is by far the best candidate in the field because he will best represent the Cuban American community in Florida and is better understanding of Cuban foreign policy.
As the Gingrich campaign retreats on the vocabulary, it has not withheld ripping on Romney's immigration policy. In an interview with Spanish-language network Univision, Gingrich called Romney's claim that he supports "self-deportation" a laughable concept that wouldn't work and sounds more like President Obama's policies.
"You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatically $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said, alluding to details in Romney's income tax returns made public on Tuesday. "For Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy."
Romney said during a debate earlier in the week that he favors self-deportation over a government round-up of illegal immigrants. Advocates of Romney's approach argue that illegal immigration can be curbed by denying public benefits to them, forcing them to leave the United States on their own.
At the same time, Romney's campaign directed reporters to past comments by Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, who said that only a small percent of illegal immigrants would likely be allowed to stay in the U.S. under Gingrich's plan, and a vast majority would likely "self-deport."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.