On a conference call with reporters this morning, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty gave a preview of the Romney campaign’s defense of the candidate’s tax returns, which will be released tomorrow. Pawlenty argued reporters would notice three things about the returns: First, Romney has “paid a huge amount of money in taxes.” Second, he’s “given a very large sum of money in charitable contributions.” And third, “he’s complied with every tax law.”
Also on the call was speaker-designate of the Florida house of representatives, Will Weatherford. Both surrogates argued that Newt Gingrich needs to be more transparent about his involvement with mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
“Newt Gingrich has represented hundreds of clients and interest groups in Washington D.C. since he left the speakership,” Pawlenty said. “We have very little transparency into what he did for those clients.” The ex-governor later called for Gingrich to release his “whole list of other clients” as well.
Noting the increasing expense of college tuition, Weatherford jokingly asked, “$1.7 million for a history lesson? I think that’s got to be a record somewhere.”
When asked whether Gingrich’s ties to Freddie Mac could strangle his campaign — especially considering they’ve been public knowledge for months now — Weatherford contended that Floridians would be particularly sensitive about the issue, as the housing market’s downturn was quite severe in the Sunshine State. “Floridians know exactly what Freddie Mac is,” Weatherford said. “I don’t think you’ll see Newt Gingrich be able to sweep this issue under the rug.”
Finally, Pawlenty took a swipe at Gingrich’s debating skills, saying what the GOP needed was the most electable candidate, not the best debater. Otherwise, the party would be just a “debating society.”