Tampa, Fla. — At a press conference this morning, a few steps from the downtown Sheraton’s swimming pool, Mitt Romney came out swinging, challenging Newt Gingrich in his opening remarks to return the money he earned as a consultant for Freddie Mac. “He ought to give it back,” Romney intoned, following a roundtable discussion with distressed local homeowners.
And that what was only the opening salvo. Over the ensuing nine minutes, Romney blasted Gingrich, relaying his concerns in a clipped, matter-of-fact tone. “He’s gone from pillar to post, almost like a pinball machine, from item to item, in a way which is highly erratic and does not suggest a stable, thoughtful course, which is normally associated with leadership,” Romney said.
Romney also warned Republicans that if Gingrich wins the nomination, the party could suffer an “October surprise,” should new details of Gingrich’s past activities emerge, from his congressional ethics investigation to his consulting work on Capitol Hill over the past decade.
“The speaker was very animated about my releasing tax records; I am,” Romney reminded reporters. “I think it’s an appropriate observation that people should know if there’s going to be an October surprise. And in the case of the speaker, he’s got some records which could represent an October surprise. We could see an October surprise a day from Newt Gingrich. So let’s see the records from the ethics investigation, let’s see what they show, let’s see who his clients were,” and whether there was “potentially wrongful activity of some kind.”