New York, New York (CNN) – Newt Gingrich vowed to hold regularly a “Newt conference call” with Iowans to directly address negative attacks on his record.
“We just decided that we would from now to the caucus on a regular basis, make available to anyone in Iowa who wants to ask a question so that we can tell the truth, and we can systematically allow you to understand the facts rather than the various political attacks and the political charges,” Gingrich said in his first tele-town hall on Saturday.
The current frontrunner addressed his ties to Freddie Mac, his anti-abortion voting record, and charges that he is not a true conservative.
“I am clearly a very solid conservative, and I am a conservative who can actually work in a bipartisan way to get conservative principles enacted into law, not just speak about them but get them into law,” he said.
Fighting back lobbyist claims, Gingrich defended the $1.6 million he received in consulting fees from the federally-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
“We had a company. The company had three different offices. We were paid annually for six years so the numbers you see are six years of work. Most of that money went to pay for overhead, for staff, for other things that didn’t go directly to me. It went to the company, which provided consulting advice,” Gingrich said.
“I have never once advocated that people do something for Fannie or Freddie. I do not in any way work on influence per se,” the former House speaker said. “I actually suggested they needed more regulations, and that’s actually in writing on their website so you can go look at it yourself.”
Gingrich also explained his pro-life record after it was questioned by other White House hopefuls and anti-abortion groups.
He reiterated what he said at Thursday night’s debate in Sioux City: “I have a 98.6 percent career voting record with a national right to life organization. The only vote we disagreed on was the first welfare reform bill, which didn’t mention abortion. They had this indirect theory that if you made single mothers go to work that somehow it might lead to more abortions. Nobody else agreed with them.”
“Otherwise I have a hundred percent voting record with them over a 20 year period. Twice we passed partial birth abortion bans when I was speaker. Both times President Clinton vetoed it. So to suggest in any way that I was at all in favor of partial birth abortion is just frankly a falsehood.”
Gingrich said he is inclined to hold a conference call with Iowans “every couple of days” leading up to the Jan. 3 caucuses to address attacks on his record. Earlier this week the presidential candidate called on his supporters and staff to “avoid initiating attacks” on his opponents, but he “reserved the right to respond when my record has been distorted."
On Saturday’s conference call, he said, “I feel badly about having to have this kind of a phone call just to dispel negative things.”