MT. DORA, Fla.--An angry Newt Gingrich on Thursday threw the verbal kitchen sink at rival Mitt Romney, accusing him of lying, hypocrisy, and treating his competitors like they are “stupid.”
Gingrich seemed especially peeved at Romney’s attacks on his more than $1.6 million contract with Freddie Mac during the housing crisis: “Here’s a guy a who owns Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae stock. He owns a Goldman Sachs subsidiary that forecloses on Floridians. He is surrounded by lobbyists who are paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop reform. And on that front, he decides to lie about my career? There’s something about the hypocrisy that should make every American angry,” Gingrich told a crowd of tea party activists.
Gingrich was referring to Romney’s financial-disclosure report showing him to be a multimillionaire who invested in the twin mortgage giants and in a Goldman Sachs account that held subprime mortgages. The former House speaker also seemed to be exercised over assertions by both Romney and conservative writers that he has been grossly overstating his affiliation with conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
Gingrich cited a 1995 tribute to him by Nancy Reagan, the late president’s wife, in which he said she praised his work as speaker and told him “I was carrying out the values he believed in.”
“To have his campaign take on a lifetime of work and lie about it, frankly, I do find it infuriating,” Gingrich told reporters after the event. “I think it is one of the most dishonest things I’ve seen in politics.”
“I am running for president to represent you,” he told an audience of more than 1,000 gathered outside the picturesque Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora. “Not to represent the Washington lobbyists, not to represent Goldman Sachs, not to represent the people who have been ruining this country. And I need your help.”
He acknowledged that the resurgence of attacks directed his way by the Romney campaign has angered him. “How can somebody run a campaign this dishonest and think he's going to have any credibility running for president?” he asked reporters after the event.
For the first 15 minutes of his speech, Gingrich aimed all of his fire on his competitor and co-front-runner, seeking to turn the tables on some of Romney’s latest attacks--in particular the assertion that Gingrich worked as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac.
Calling the campaign a battle for “the very nature of the Republican Party,” Gingrich set up the race as a fight between establishment money and citizen conservatism, and he challenged the crowd to “prove that people matter more than Wall Street and that people matter more than all the big companies that are pouring the cash in to run the ads that are false.”
The Romney campaign responded with a press released headlined "UNHINGED: DR. NEWT AND MR. HYDE," and a single-word quote from communications director Gail Gitcho: "Wow."