Political Animal


December 12, 2011 10:00 AM Romney gambles on Freddie Mac attack

By Steve Benen

Newt Gingrich ran into some trouble recently when we learned that he lobbied for Freddie Mac and then lied about it. That said, despite exceedingly unflattering revelations, voters didn’t seem to care much about the story, and the headlines soon faded.

Mitt Romney, scrambling to stem Gingrich’s rise, hopes to bring the story back.

Mitt Romney said Monday that Newt Gingrich is part of a Washington culture that disgusts Americans, and called on the former House speaker to return the seven-figure sum he received from the government-backed lender Freddie Mac.

Asked on Fox News if he thinks Gingrich should give back the $1.6 million that Freddie Mac paid him, Romney answered: “I sure do.” […]

Romney noted that Gingrich originally said he’d taken a sizable sum from Freddie Mac in order to serve as a “historian.” “That’d make him the highest-paid historian in history,” Romney said.

This is a clean hit on an issue where Gingrich at least appears vulnerable. Unlike so many of Romney’s attacks, this one doesn’t even require lying.

There is, however, a problem: Romney has some Freddie Mac troubles of his own.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has long been critical of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … [y]et Romney has profited from investments that were made in both government entities, according to his personal finance disclosure forms and documents compiled by American Bridge, one of several Democratic groups in Washington formed to back the election campaigns of Obama and other Democrats.

The issue illustrates the potential perils for a candidate with vast financial holdings whose rhetoric does not necessarily match his investment interests.

“Once again, Mitt Romney has proven his hypocrisy knows no limits,” said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for American Bridge, which was formed earlier this year and has been going through the records of President Obama’s potential opponents. “To continually attack the housing crisis, yet invest up to a half a million dollars in the major players is absolutely mind boggling. I didn’t know a person could flip flop on themselves, but Romney has proven that wrong.”

It leads to a pretty straightforward question: if Gingrich should return the money he made by working for Freddie Mac, should Romney return the money he made by investing in Freddie Mac?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on December 12, 2011 10:03 AM:

    I think poor Mitt's getting tired and worn out.

    After all, he's taken more positions than Debbie when she "did" Dallas.

  • stevio on December 12, 2011 10:08 AM:

    What fun...

  • bigtuna on December 12, 2011 10:12 AM:

    Even better - Maybe Willard should return the money he made in "management fees" for all the companies that went bankrupt under Bain's "management"....

  • MattF on December 12, 2011 10:24 AM:

    Problem is that the headline for Romney's attack on Gingrich is: "Hypocrite Attacks Liar, And Also Vice Versa." It's possible that would be effective, but, um... also, maybe not.

  • Squishy Mitt on December 12, 2011 10:27 AM:

    Maybe Willard should return the money he made in "management fees" for all the companies that went bankrupt under Bain's "management"....

    That is so 99%, but it's not what we do in my country.

  • bluewave on December 12, 2011 10:29 AM:

    Willard might as well throw in the towel right now. Relying on Republican base voters to demand accountability or consistency from someone who articulates their id as perfectly as Newt Gingrich does is a sure-fire loser. The stink of flop-sweat is in the air, and is only going to get stronger.

    I would be interesting to know what really kept Newt from dropping out of the race back when his consultants were fleeing like rats and all the pundits said he was doomed, though, wouldn't it?

  • Chris on December 12, 2011 10:43 AM:

    ...if Gingrich should return the money he made by working for Freddie Mac, should Romney return the money he made by investing in Freddie Mac?

    With all due respect to Steve, I don't believe that the answer to such questions about Romney matter anymore. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News have effectively endorsed Newt Gingrich. As a result, Gingrich appears to be the person who the sheep, those who watch and listen to these idiots, will nominate. Gingrich is now the "teflon Republican candidate", and all the hypocrisy, flip-flopping, adultery, and child-labor proposals in the world won't change their minds (unless and until Fox News and Rush Limbaugh change theirs).

  • Okie on December 12, 2011 11:00 AM:

    Do we know if Mitt actually made any money on Freddie Mac? Freddie's stock has collapsed from $60+ per share five years ago to 21 as of this morning.

  • me on December 12, 2011 11:00 AM:

    i'll bet mitt $10,000 that gingrich won't return the money.

  • kahner on December 12, 2011 11:24 AM:

    he also stole that line directly from Barney Frank.

  • KLAUS on December 12, 2011 3:28 PM: