July 31, 2014

Santorum: I wouldn’t have worked for Freddie Mac (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he wouldn’t have worked for a major player in the U.S. housing market, as rival Newt Gingrich did. 

Gingrich was paid more than one-and-a-half million dollars to provide consulting services to the government mortgage giant Freddie Mac. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have both called on Gingrich to give that money back. Santorum isn’t joining in on that.

“Newt was a private businessman who went out and engaged in a contract and I’m sure he earned that money and if he earned the money, then I don’t see any reason why he should give it back,” Santorum told reporters in Iowa earlier today. “That’s just gotcha politics. I’m not going to play that game.”

However, Santorum is highlighting a letter he signed in 2006, warning of the “enormous risk” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac presented to taxpayers.

“I wasn’t someone who said we needed, at the time, to abolish them,” Santorum said. “But I saw the problems that were inherent in the system and now it’s clear to me, given what happened, you know, we need to move away from that model.”

Santorum was a U.S. Senator when Gingrich was working for Freddie Mac, and Santorum describes that time as a “remarkable period” when there was a lot of pressure on congress to “do nothing” about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Santorum told reporters today that he wouldn’t have accepted the Freddie Mac contact Gingrich took.

“I think the fact that he went out and lobbied for an organization that, in my opinion, was not consistent with the conservative values that we have,” Santorum said, “I mean, I just wouldn’t do that.”

Gingrich has denied he was a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and has described his work for the organization as consulting from the perspective of a historian. Santorum a few moments later conceded he misspoke, as there is a “legal definition” of a lobbyist.

“I accept the fact that if he didn’t go to offices and lobby, he wasn’t a lobbyist,” Santorum said. “But he was someone promoting their values and promoting their cause.”

Santorum spoke early this afternoon to about 175 employees of Principal Financial in Des Moines, weaving stories about his visits to all 99 Iowa counties in his remarks.