The PJ Tatler

Gingrich Talks About Freddie Mac, and Possible Veep Picks

On Freddie Mac, based on what we know to date, probably the worst that can be said about Newt Gingrich’s consulting work is that he was feeding at the Beltway trough. It doesn’t look like he was lobbying on their behalf, which was the original accusation. It looks like he was paid a lot of money that ultimately came from the taxpayers, to render advice that in the end wasn’t followed.

McCormick: Do you think you were sort of being bought to just be there and be a friendly voice?”

Gingrich: “No, I don’t think that anymore than your institution is being bought by the people who advertise in it.”

The New York Time’s Trip Gabriel: “Do you recall any of the strategic advice you did give?…Expanding housing for low-income Hispanic communities, for example?”

Gingrich: “Well, first of all, if you can do it in a way that is financially sound, every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities for people whether they’re African American, or Latino or of any background so the idea that you’re thinking about how can we help people learn how to budget, how can we help people learn how to save, how could you help them learn how to maintain a house on a low income would strike me, for more people, would be good things to do, not bad things to do and I’m happy to say I made public speeches to the National Association of Home Builders. I’m in favor of the largest possible home ownership. This is all public knowledge. I’m in favor of doing the right kind of things and you can go talk to Rick Lazio about the support I gave him as speaker on housing reform which he pushed through despite opposition of some of the people like Barney Frank and others, so I think the record there is one of I’m pretty consistent and frankly, I tend to give the same strategic advice in private I give in public.”

….AP’s Tom Beaumont:  “Does this remind you that your background comes from being a Washington insider?”

Gingrich: “It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington and if you want to change Washington, we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn’t work very well, so having somebody who knows Washington might be a really good thing.”

It may be that Fannie/Freddie hired Gingrich for the express purpose of neutralizing him as a critic. He would not have known that that was their motivation, if it was their motivation. I’m just saying that it’s a possibility. Conservatives had been openly question the GSE’s practices since 2005 or so; hiring Gingrich may have been a way to take one of the biggest conservative guns out of the fight. And for Newt, the consultancy was both a chance to make money and a chance to advise them.

Whatever is the case, isn’t the AP’s Tom Beaumont just a gem with that question about being “reminded” that Gingrich is a “Washington insider?” Would Beaumont ever ask a similar question of Nancy Pelosi, regarding her Visa IPO or anything else?

On a veep choice, well, it’s way too soon to ask and that’s how Gingrich ends up answering when asked whether a Gingrich/Cain ticket is a possibility.

As for the chances that there could be a Gingrich-Cain ticket, or a Cain-Gingrich ticket, Gingrich asserts: “I think that’s a real possibility. I think there are other possibilities. There are several very good candidates running for president.

“We have a number of great potential [vice presidential] candidates, people like Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, so you really don’t want to preclude looking at a number of people.

“I think there are a lot of folks out there in the Republican Party, and a number of them would be very good vice presidents and frankly good presidents.”

Gingrich says he and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney are “very different in our approaches” to governance.

“I’ve been a consistent conservative for a very long time,” Gingrich says. “I probably come at this from a different perspective as a national conservative than Mitt does. Mitt is a fine person and was a good manager, but we do approach things in very different ways.”

That sounds like a very gentle “No” to the Cain question, and otherwise a polite reminder that Newt is to Mitt’s right on policy without getting personal about it. Well handled.

Speculation time: In the last few weeks we’ve seen a succession of candidates emerge and solidify some support, only to get hit hard with something in the press. First it was Rick Perry and the rock, next it was Herman Cain and the harassment allegations, and now it’s Newt Gingrich and his consultancy for Freddie Mac. In all three cases, the blaring headlines really didn’t live up to the substance of the stories, but they did do damage to the candidates who were attacked. Through it all, fingers have been pointed in various directions, mostly from the Cain camp to Perry’s, but only one campaign on the GOP side has consistently benefited from these attacks. That campaign has had five years and adequate money to do oppo research on every conceivable GOP candidate.

It’s possible that these attacks aren’t connected, or that they have come from more than one source. But it’s hard to ignore the pattern here, that Romney’s campaign has the motive and the means to carry out this type of hit against opponents. His campaign is run by several RNC veterans too, pros who know the DC press and how to use them to wage media war.