Naples, Florida (CNN) – As he moves to undercut Newt Gingrich's momentum in Florida, Mitt Romney has ratcheted up his criticism of the government-backed mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The reason: Gingrich's Washington-based consulting company earned $1.6 million advising Freddie Mac before the collapse of the housing market began in 2007.
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In a primary state with one of the nation's worst home foreclosure rates, it's a relationship Romney has been eager to highlight.
Romney has cast Fannie and Freddie as two of the main villains in the housing crisis.
"These guys went out and made all sorts of guarantees and all sorts of circumstances, which should not have been done," Romney said Tuesday at a campaign event Lehigh Acres. "People buying homes they couldn't possible afford to make the payments down the road. These government-sponsored entities, in the case of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, are a large reason why our housing crisis has occurred."
But Romney was not always so hostile to Fannie Mae.
In fact, he agreed to be a distinguished panelist at a housing conference sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation in 2004.
That was before the mortgage slump began, and Fannie and Freddie did not begin dabbling aggressively in risky home loans until 2005 and 2006.
But Romney's appearance came right as the subprime lending boom was taking off.
According to a brochure released by the Fannie Mae Foundation recapping the event, Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts, spoke alongside former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and offered "a gubernatorial perspective" on homeownership.
Romney, the brochure summarized, outlined his economic development goals in Massachusetts and talked about the need to expand access to affordable housing.
Romney was not paid for the appearance.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, said the appearance was one of many that the governor made at the time to discuss his policy efforts in Massachusetts.
She sought to keep the focus on Gingrich's work with Freddie Mac.
"Speaker Gingrich needs to fully disclose his work as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and explain exactly what he did to be paid $1.6 million from Freddie Mac," Saul wrote in an email to CNN.
"The bursting housing bubble helped lead to the current economic crisis and Newt Gingrich has his fingerprints all over it. Gov. Romney has spoken to many groups about the success he had as Governor of Massachusetts across many issue areas. While he was talking about his Massachusetts housing initiatives, Speaker Gingrich was cashing Freddie Mac checks," she added.
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Vote for Mitt Romney!!
Well, I do not see news in this Article. Please elaborate. Mitt is the Man, I Tell you...
Romney is showing a great propensity, for dishonest discourse, when it comes to opponents.......all of his opponents.
Jariv – we know who you are, and we know where you live in SLC.
Tone it down, buddy. He'll give you your cut (in good time and in cash).
If Fannie and Freddie are so responsible for the financial crisis, why is that people always refer to those days as the "wall street melt down" or the "wall street collapse"? Do I need to remind you that the DOW saw its' biggest one day loss of 777 points shortly before TARP was passed and signed by Bush?
So what Romney was a panelist? Obviously Fannie and Freddie didn't learn anything! The most important thing to remember is that Congressional Democrats led by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd went against the Bush Administration's warnings and mandated Banks to make ridiculous loans to deadbeats and those not intelligent enough to realize they couldn't make their payments! Faulty Mortgage-Backed Securities resulted which complicated the problem even more. Make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, Liberal Democrats were the primary culprits leading to the crash of the American Economy and they have made it worse ever since. Go GOP!
Look, Newt and Mitt cheered on Mac and Mae as those institutions decided to go all in on risky lending. The fact that Newt and Mitt have spent the past year blaming Obama for these lenders' failures is the rankest hypocrisy.
Romney has investments $500,000 in Freddie Mac and, Fannie Mae. He is getting rich by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac
When he will the truth to Americans
As people remember,not @Truth,that was when Mitt was at his finest wanting the housing market as well ,as the Big 3 autos to fail.So vultures ,like himself can pick up companies ,paying pennies on the dollar.Then selling pieces to competing companies at a profit,great plan,but too big even for Mitt.He then changed his tune when Barack made them winners again.Mitt,too bad,so sad.Someday,you'll be a winner too,but not in this lifetime.No more advise from Mittens & Newty,game over,you lose...
Mitt is a repulsive vulture that feeds on US workers.
"In fact, (Romney) agreed to be a distinguished panelist at a housing conference sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation in 2004.That was before the mortgage slump began, and Fannie and Freddie did not begin dabbling aggressively in risky home loans until 2005 and 2006."
Gee, I wonder why these two sentences are tucked into the middle of an article with a screamingly misleading headline?
No way Mitt will ever win. Im a LDS and Republican. ILL vote for Obama before iLL vote for the mitt.
This story has absolutely zero point. Who cares that he spoke to them? Anyone? He didn't get paid, it was also before the started doing anything sketchy. What a meaningless story....
Go Mitt! Best chance to defeat Obama and restore America to glory!
Was he paid speaking fees?
Romney was not paid for the appearance.
OK CNN, just what is the point of this article??? To try and smear Romney with the headline and hope people don't read the article to find out Romney made essentially an unpaid cameo appearance at one of their conferences? Maybe you could also list all of the Democrats that did the same thing?
What?!? Mitt once touted home ownership as a good thing? It simply CAN'T be the same Mitt...
If newt advised freddie and fannie then what would he do to our country
Mittens a hypocrit, like the e-trade baby let me show you my surprised face.
all 4 them are pure hypocrites! they want to "shrink/eliminate govt.," but they all want the ultimate govt., position...the Presidency!
If it were not for Fannie and Freddie, there would be no home sales. That said, F & F did not get involved in risky home loans until 2005 and 2006. Evidently the Republican president, republican controlled house, and the republican controlled senate were asleep at the switch.
I still don't believe either candidate could pass a polygraph or a complete psychiatric exam. It is the year of the whack job!!!