WEBSTER CITY, Iowa - Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann took aim at primary rival Newt Gingrich on Wednesday, criticizing the former House speaker of "shilling" for mortgage giant Freddie Mac after he left Congress.
Gingrich has been under attack for his consulting work for the mortgage finance giant, a controversy that boiled over Wednesday after Bloomberg News report Tuesday that he made over $1.6 million over eight years as a consultant for Freddie Mac after leaving Congress in early 1999. Gingrich would have been under contract when the housing market bubble burst in 2006, an event that some policymakers say was helped along by the twin mortgage entities Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
"Fannie and Freddie, as you know, have been the epicenter of the financial meltdown in this country," Bachmann said. "And whether former Speaker Gingrich made $300,000 or whether he made $2 million, the point is that he took money to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie. While he was taking that money I was fighting against Fannie and Freddie."
"And I believe that Fannie and Freddie should be allowed to go into receivership and have an orderly winding down," she added. "And so I'm standing up for the little guy in the United States and I believe that Fannie and Freddie need to be shut down. And so I wasn't shilling for them, I was fighting them."
Bachmann made her comments on Gingrich to reporters after giving her stump speech to a group of 40 people who turned out to see her at the 2nd Street Emporium restaurant. Gingrich was also stumping in Iowa today, where he faced repeated questions about the consulting contracts.