Chris Wallace, one of the Fox News moderators, obliged by teeing up questions to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on Gingrich’s $1.6 million consultancy with controversial mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The result was not Gingrich’s best moment.
Gingrich has stated that he was an adviser to Freddie Mac, not a lobbyist. But Representative Bachmann zinged him on that.
“You don't need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding,” Bachmann said. “And the bidding was to keep this grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going.”
Gingrich asserted that Bachmann had it wrong – that his policy is to break up both Freddie Mac and its sister institution, Fannie Mae. And he repeated his argument that, in effect, because he was already rich he didn’t really need the Freddie Mac money.
“I want to state unequivocally for every person watching tonight, I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment, because I – the truth is, I was a national figure who was doing just fine doing a whole variety of things, including writing best-selling books, making speeches,” Gingrich said.
Given the accusations Romney has faced for being an out-of-touch rich man, Gingrich may also not want to flaunt his financial success.