Asked this morning if Newt Gingrich “should give that [Freddie Mac] money back,” on Fox and Friends, Mitt Romney said he thought Gingrich should.
“I sure do,” Romney responded. “He was on a debate saying that politicians who took money from Freddie and Fannie should go to jail, which is outrageous in itself. But, look, he says he was in the consulting business. That’s very different than the consulting business other people have been in. He was in the business of connecting folks with government. He was on K street. … It’s very different than the private sector.”
Romney appears to be referring to these remarks Gingrich made in the October Bloomberg/Washington Post debate:
GINGRICH: And if you want to put people in jail — I want to second what Michele said — you ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and let’s look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble.
[Charlie] ROSE: Clearly you’re not saying they should go to jail?
GINGRICH: Well, in Chris Dodd’s case, go back and look at the countryside (sic) deals. In Barney Frank’s case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at — at Freddie Mac. All I’m saying is…
(UNKNOWN): So if he were… GINGRICH: Everybody — everybody in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who have been at the heart of the sickness which is weakening this country and ought to start with Bernanke, who has still not been exposed for the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Gingrich reportedly was paid around $1.6 million for his consulting at Freddie Mac.
UPDATE: Gingrich addressed Romney’s remark in a press availability this morning, saying, per Time’s Mark Halperin, that ”If Gov. Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, then I would be glad to then listen to him.”
“And I will bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer,” Gingrich added.
UPDATE II: Romney apparently has profited some from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae himself, the Boston Globe reported in September:
On his financial disclosure statement filed last month, Romney reported owning between $250,001 and $500,000 in a mutual fund that invests in debt notes of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, among other government entities. Over the previous year, he had reported earning between $15,001 and $50,000 in interest from those investments.