In what may have been one of Mitt Romney's finest debate moments yet, he attacked Newt Gingrich's ties to Freddie Mac and knocked the usually surefooted Gingrich into a defensive crouch and kept him there throughout the exchange.
On Monday, Gingrich's former consulting firm released a 2006 contract with Freddie Mac that showed the mortgage giant paid The Gingrich Group $25,000 a month. Asked if he was an influence peddler for Freddie, Gingrich was immediately put on the defensive.
"I have never, ever gone and done any lobbying," he said. He then proceeded to explain how he hired an expert in lobbying law to train his staff on how to avoid lobbying. When you're parsing lobbying law in a presidential debate, you're not winning the argument.
Romney pounced, attacking Gingrich's earlier argument that Freddie Mac paid him as an historian.
"They don't pay people $25,000 a month for six years as historians. That adds up to $1.6 million. This contract proves that you were not an historian. You were a consultant. It said you were a consultant and you were hired by the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac, not the CEO, not the head of public affairs, by the chief lobbyist at Freddie Mac," he said, making a point the contract itself backs up.
Romney then moved to Gingrich's work supporting Medicare Part D at the same time one of his companies was getting paid by health care companies.
"You can call it whatever you like. I call it influence peddling," Romney told Gingrich.
Romney successfully exposed Gingrich's Achilles heel and Gingrich never recovered.