Davenport, Iowa (CNN) - Newt Gingrich explained Monday his share of the six-year $1.6 million Freddie Mac payout amounted to "about $35,000 a year," a drop in the bucket compared to the amount he would earn from one speech.
"Freddie Mac hired Gingrich Group, which is a firm which had offices in three cities," Gingrich said at a campaign stop in Davenport. "Of the total contract, it was a six-year period contract, of the total amount that we keep talking about I probably got about $35,000 a year. Now that is less than I was making per speech."
This is the first time the former House speaker and GOP presidential candidate shared how much he personally earned from Freddie Mac, which would have amounted to $210,000 over the six-year period, or roughly 13% of the total $1.6 million sum.
After getting pounded for weeks by his opponents, Gingrich claimed his mistake was in his messaging and not mounting a stronger defense at the outset.
"But what we should have done, immediately after the first time this came up is we should have stopped, pulled together everything, and I should have had a much more coherent answer so I want to be clear about that," Gingrich said. "And I hope starting today we can get clear of this, and frankly I hope my friends will take down the ads that are fundamentally inaccurate."
Gingrich tried again over the weekend to downplay the consulting fees with the federally backed mortgage giant, explaining that most of the money went to overhead and staff at his company.
With just weeks before the Iowa caucuses Gingrich said he believes all the negative attacks are to blame for his slip in the polls.
"Watch TV here for two days. You've had all sorts of people and all sorts of these super PACs who have consistently been running negative ads,” he said. “Well you get enough negative ads before you start answering them, your numbers go down for a while. “
The former speaker, who has vowed to continue to run a positive campaign, is going to hold "Newt conference calls" with Iowans every few days to rebut attacks leading up to the Jan. 3 caucuses.