For the third time in as many days, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign kicked off the morning by casting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as an unreliable conservative leader — this time turning Mr. Gingrich’s own words against him.
The Romney team blasted out an email Wednesday that pointed to contradictory remarks Mr. Gingrich has made about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while ramping up pressure on him to return the $1.6 million he made working as a consultant for the latter housing-mortgage giant.
“I think what you want to say as a consequence of their survival — they should be broken up, they should go through the equivalent of a receivership,” Mr. Gingrich says in the C-SPAN video clip. “And then everybody who was profiting from them should pay the cost of having failed. And the general taxpayer should not bear that burden.”
The remarks, the Romney camp noted, clashed with statements Mr. Gingrich made in an interview the previous year when he said that the government-sponsored entities had helped to stabilize the housing and financial sector.
“The housing GSEs have made an important contribution to homeownership and the housing finance system. We have a much more liquid and stable housing finance system than we would have without the GSEs,” the former speaker said in a 2007 interview.
Mr. Gingrich has jumped out to the lead in national polls and also is the frontrunner in three of the first four primary and caucus states. His surge in the polls has coincided with increasing scrutiny of his legislative and rhetorical record from the media, former colleagues and his GOP rivals.
The Georgia Republican, meanwhile, has instructed his campaign staff and surrogates not to initiate any attacks against his GOP rivals. That same day, his Iowa political director stepped down because of disparaging remarks about Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith.
“A lot of evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon,” Craig Bergman reportedly told a focus group last week. “There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
Over the last week, Mr. Romney has called for Mr. Gingrich to return the money he earned from Freddie Mac — as part of an effort to brand the Georgia Republican as an “unreliable leader” — and mocked his contention that he was to advising Freddie Mac officials in his role as a “historian.”
“That would make him the highest paid historian in history,” Mr. Romney said in an interview this week.
Romney aides and surrogates also have highlighted Mr. Gingrich’s “Meet the Press” interview this year where he described GOP House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform plan as “right-wing social engineering,” and played up the 2008 commercial Mr. Gingrich cut with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, advocating for action to address climate change.