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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mitt Romney goes negative: New FL ad blasts Newt Gingrich over Freddie contract

23

January

Remember when Mitt Romney said in the last debate that he wished he had spent more time criticizing Barack Obama and not his fellow Republicans? That was right before he lost South Carolina by 12 points heading into Florida, where two new polls show him trailing. The best way to catch up: Go negative. And Romney's doing it, showing he's a fighter who, like Newt Gingrich, can adopt a populist message targeting the electorate in Florida, where the mortgage meltdown has ruined the economy.

Just before announcing this ad, Romney's surrogates, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, tore into Gingrich as an "influence peddler" during a conference call over his $1.7 million consulting contract with lender Freddie Mac, which many conservatives say played a key role in the housing meltdown.

Gingrich had said he was hired not as a lobbyist but as an "historian" whose advice was ultimately not taken. He won't release his contract with and work product for Freddie Mac, saying the agency needs to do it.

Pawlenty and Weatherford said that shows Gingrich isn't being "transparent," hitting him with his own criticisms of Romney who, until recently, had refused to say he'd release his tax returns.

"The notion Newt Gingrich was paid $1.7 mllion by Freddie Mac as an historian is just BS," Pawlenty said.

Weatherford didn't pull punches, either, noting that Gingrich has worked and lived for 30 years in Washington, making it tough to believe he'll be a "change" agent:

"We need principled leaders, not political opportunist," Weatherford said. "$1.7m for a history lesson?....He should have been giving them a math lesson."

Marc Caputo, Miami Herald

[Last modified: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:33am]

    

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