Lynn Coffin holds boxing hand puppets of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney during… (Joe Raedle / Getty Images )
Reporting from Sarasota, Fla. — While Newt Gingrich largely avoided attacking Mitt Romney at a campaign event here Tuesday, the ongoing back-and-forth between the two men still played out away from the stump, as a Romney surrogate mixed it up with Gingrich's spokesman.
Rep. Connie Mack, a Republican from Fort Myers and a Romney backer, showed up at Gingrich’s event and started talking to reporters about Gingrich’s dealings with Freddie Mac, the federally-backed mortgage guarantor that is a focus of scrutiny in the race.
Gingrich’s consulting firm was paid handsomely by the organization, which many Republicans blame for the housing crises. The former House speaker insists he did no lobbying for Freddie Mac, that the firm was interested in his historical knowledge.
Gingrich's former consultancy, the Center for Health Transformation, released one of its contracts with Freddie Mac on Monday, but it revealed little about Gingrich's activities on behalf of the mortgage giant.
“I think the people in the state of Florida had their homes devalued or lost their homes, they want to know what the relationship was and I think they deserve that answer,” Mack told reporters.
Gingrich’s spokesman R.C. Hammond, who had been hovering nearby, interjected, “What hasn’t he said so far?”
Mack said, “He hasn’t said anything.”
Hammond responded that Gingrich released the contract, and Mack noted it was only for one year.
“Let me ask you a question,” Mack said. “Twenty-five thousand dollars a month for historical work. You think anybody’s buying that? Nobody’s buying that. “
Hammond replied, “Freddie seemed to be.”
“Well, they’re paying him,” Mack said.