CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Newt Gingrich told reporters here Friday that he believes he and Mitt Romney now are co-leaders in the Republican presidential race and that it “would be my hope” that the Gingrich Group will release information about how much money it made from home mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
Gingrich spoke to reporters after an appearance at the Harvard Institute of Politics where he screened a film he produced called A City Upon A Hill. He insisted that the $1.6 million he reportedly got from the controversial quasi-governmental entity were “not my earnings” and that the decision to reveal the details is not his call.
“I think you would have to check with Nancy Desmond, who is president of Gingrich Group,” the former House speaker said. “I’m not currently associated with them.” But when asked if about his pledge to release the information, Gingrich said: “It is certainly would be my hope that they would do that.”
Asked whether it is hypocritical of him to criticize President Obama and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., his party’s top-ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, for their relationships with Freddie while accepting fees from the same agency, Gingrich said: “They weren’t paid to me when I was a candidate . . . Barney’s in Congress. There’s a difference.” Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, two government-backed agencies, are under fire for underwriting risky mortgages that fueled the housing bubble and triggered its eventual collapse.
Companies in the health care industry that reportedly ponied up $37 million to his Center for Health Transformation were paying not for his connections on Capitol Hill but for his “Ideas. Knowledge,” Gingrich said.
“I’ve been listed for four or five years in a row as one of the top people in health,” Gingrich said. “Just as all of our institutions sell advertising, they sold the ability to come and sit down and talk. And I’d listen to people and give them my ideas.”
Gingrich insisted he sees the scrutiny of his business career as a good sign. “As long as everybody thought I was dead in June and July, they didn’t pay much attention to me,” he said. “But I’m now, I think, probably with Romney we’re probably the two frontrunners for the moment. And somebody who’s the frontrunner for the presidency of the United States should get a thorough vetting.”