On Meet the Press this morning, Newt Gingrich defended himself against the three main criticisms of his candidacy: his involvement with Freddie Mac, his attacks on Bain Capital, and his personal life.
Host David Gregory asked Gingrich how he could win “that inside-outside game” given his receipt of $1.6 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac. When Gregory suggested that Gingrich was a lobbyist for the firm, Gingrich interrupted:
David, you know better than that. I was not a lobbyist. . . . Don’t try to mess these things up. The fact is, I was an adviser strategically, and, if you look at the only thing ever published by Freddie Mac, I said, “You need more regulations.” If you look at the only article ever written about my talking to the Congress, it was in the New York Times in July of 2008, and I said, “Do not give them any money.” Now I opposed giving money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I think they should both be broken up into four or five much smaller companies and I’ve long felt that. And so I think that to jump from one to another is simply wrong.
Later, Gregory asked Gingrich about Mitt Romney’s contention that the ex-speaker was using the “weapons of the Left” in attacking Bain Capital. Gingrich responded with equal force:
[Romney] is trying to cleverly hide behind an argument that no high-school debater would ever let stand. Questions about the character, the judgment, the record of a presidential candidate [are] not an attack on business. That’s silly. That would be like saying that my critique of Romneycare as resembling Obamacare means I’m against any kind of government involvement. That would be silly.
After Gingrich broached the topic of a candidate’s character, Gregory asked him, “If voters are going to consider your family values versus the family values of Governor Romney, should they judge your conduct?”
“Sure, of course they should,” Gingrich replied. “And I think the people of South Carolina did just that. And they did it by a huge margin.” He continued:
I’m a 68-year-old grandfather. I’ve done things in my life that I regret. I’ve had to go to God for forgiveness and reconciliation. But I have a great relationship with my wife, a great relationship with my children, a great relationship with my grandchildren. And at 68, I think I’m the person best prepared to know how to get this country back on the right track.
Finally, Gregory asked whether the news that Romney would release his 2010 tax return and an estimate for his 2011 return this week would settle that issue.
“As far as I’m concerned, that particular issue is now set aside, and we can go on and talk about bigger and more important things,” Gingrich concluded.
Watch the interview below.