Gingrich has said he served as a historian for the mortgage giant, to which Romney remarked: “That would make him the highest-paid historian in history.” Romney added, “One of the things that I think people recognize in Washington is that people go there to serve the people and then they stay there to serve themselves.”
Gingrich responded at a morning event in Londonderry, saying he would consider returning his Freddie Mac earnings “if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years” — a reference to Romney’s time as head of the private equity firm Bain Capital.
“But I bet you $10 — not $10,000 — that he won’t take the offer,” Gingrich added in a reference to Romney’s widely mocked offer to bet Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a candidates debate Saturday night. Gingrich appeared to ease off his attacks later in the day, however, thanking Romney at a nighttime rally for saying that he didn’t want to weaken any of his opponents.
Nonetheless, the exchanges between Romney and Gingrich marked a continuation of the battle lines that emerged during the debate and are likely to solidify over the next three weeks, when voters start to have their say. Romney’s decision to go after Gingrich in New Hampshire, where he has invested heavily and has been favored to win all year, underscores how crucial the state is to his prospects for winning the GOP nomination — and how worried he is about Gingrich’s rise in the polls.
After Gingrich’s comments about his time at Bain, Romney sought to cast the former House speaker as a Washington insider during an event that drew about 100 supporters to a lumber mill in Madison.
“There’s a big difference between working in the private economy and working on K Street and working as a lobbyist or working as a legislator or working to connect businesses with government,” Romney said. He also laid into Gingrich for saying in the spring that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul entitlements was ”right-wing social engineering.”
Later in the day, Gingrich reiterated his promise to remain focused on ideas and issues, a strategy meant to leave Romney looking defensive and desperate as he seeks to catch up to his latest chief rival. The former speaker also sought to emphasize his high-road strategy at a joint appearance with former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. that was notable mostly for the amount of praise the pair lavished on each other.
At a nighttime event in Windham, Gingrich made a more direct appeal for a cease-fire among the Republican candidates, drawing enormous applause from a crowd of about 1,000.