Tales from the Trail

Romney presses Gingrich on Freddie Mac fees

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is turning the tables on Newt Gingrich, putting the squeeze on the former House Speaker to disclose details of his financial relationship with Freddie Mac.

The Romney camp scheduled a conference call Monday morning to talk to reporters about Gingrich’s work as a “historian” (quote marks supplied by the campaign) for the government-owned mortgage finance giant.

Romney campaign surrogates former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Will Weatherford, Speaker Designate of the Florida House of Representatives, will be on the conference call — with the call code name “Definitely Not a Lobbyist.”

Gingrich has said he never worked as a lobbyist since stepping down as House Speaker in 1999. The question of whether Gingrich was a lobbyist came up during a Republican presidential debate in November. The former House Speaker initially said he was retained by Freddie Mac as a historian but later acknowledged he’d received consulting fees from the financially troubled mortgage giant for providing “strategic advice.”

(Read Sam Youngman’s story for more on what Gingrich has said about payments from Freddie Mac.)

Gingrich rejects “open marriage” question, blames media

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got the Republican candidates debate in Charleston off to a lively start Thursday night with an angry denial of charges a former wife made in an interview that came two days before the South Carolina primary.

Here’s an excerpt from the debate on CNN:



Ex-wife Marianne Gingrich accused the former House Speaker of week of asking her
for an “open marriage” when he was having an affair.

Here’s an excerpt from her interview with ABC’s “Nightline.”

Washington Extra – Home alone

When it comes to fixing the housing market in this election year, it’s a battle between the “ineffective” and the “do-nothing.”

President Obama’s relief measures for homeowners facing foreclosure have fallen far short of objectives. Republican candidates, meanwhile, prefer to let the marketplace work its magic. Prices will then hit bottom and begin to recover.

The hands-off approach might not cause too much damage to Republicans in South Carolina. But when the race moves to foreclosure-heavy states such as Florida and Nevada, Republican candidates could find themselves having to explain why they don’t want to help any homeowners.

Gingrich camp heads off ex-wife interview

The Gingrich campaign launched a preemptive strike  as news spread that ABC plans to broadcast a potentially damaging interview with Newt Gingrich’s second ex-wife  on  Thursday –  just two days before Saturday’s crucial South Carolina primary.

Gingrich’s daughters (from his first marriage) Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman came to their father’s defense in a letter released by his presidential campaign.

“The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved. Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events,” the daughters said in the letter addressed to ABC News Leadership.

Huntsman’s face still on Republican “Mt Rushmore” sand sculpture

The city of Myrtle Beach went all out for Monday’s Republican debate, even getting sand sculpture artists to build a mini Mount Rushmore of Republican presidential candidates out of sand.

The only problem?

The 1,175,100-pound horseshoe-shaped sand sculpture has the face of Jon Huntsman smack in the middle. His decision to pull out of the race came after the Myrtle Beach area Chamber of Commerce unveiled the sculpture.

Apparently there were no plans to pour water on his image or erase him from the sculpture. After he formally pulled out of the race and endorsed frontrunner Mitt Romney, Huntsman’s face was still there with a big toothy grin smiling at all who walked by.

Colbert bumps Huntsman in South Carolina

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman finished a disappointing third on Tuesday in the presidential primary in New Hampshire, despite focusing his campaign on the state and attending some 150 events there. But things are, arguably, worse for him in South Carolina, where a new poll ahead of the state’s Jan. 21 primary put him behind comedian and late-night talk show host, Stephen Colbert.

The survey, by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, had Colbert in sixth place, with just 5 percent support, in South Carolina’s primary, behind Mitt Romney (27 percent), Newt Gingrich (23 percent), Rick Santorum (18 percent), Ron Paul (8 percent) and Rick Perry (7 percent). But he was ahead of Huntsman’s 4 percent and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (1 percent).

It is not completely surprising that Huntsman would trail Colbert, who is from South Carolina and had even offered to sponsor the state’s primary. The Emmy- and Peabody-winning comedian also has name recognition because of his popular Comedy Central Show, the Colbert Report.