WEBSTER CITY, Iowa -- Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann suggested Newt Gingrich was "shilling" for Freddie Mac in his career since stepping down as Speaker of the House.
Seizing on a report that Gingrich -- or, at least, his consulting firm -- received at least $1.6M in fees from the mortgage lending giant from 1999-2008, Bachmann told an Iowa audience that she was a candidate of a different sort.
"Whether former speaker Gingrich made 300-thousand dollars, or whether he made $2 million dollars, the point is he took money to also influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie," Bachmann told reporters. "I want them ended...I wasn't shilling for them, I was fighting for them."
Gingrich acknowledged an extended relationship between his consulting firm and Freddie Mac, one of two mortgage giants (the other being Fannie Mae) forced into government conservatorship in part due to their support of subprime lending practices. Since that point, they've become a favorite bogeyman of conservatives.
Gingrich wasn't the only focus of Bachmann's criticism on Wednesday; she was critical of President Obama's plan to boost the U.S. military presence in Australia. Obama, who's traveling to Australia, said that 2,500 troops would be stationed there. It was an announcement interpreted as a move to curb China's growing influence in the Pacific.
After seeming to be taken off-guard by a question in the morning ("Are you kidding? For what reason?" she responded to a question.) about the new stationing development, Bachmann struck a more critical note in the afternoon.
"The president has put us in Libya. He put us in Uganda. Do you know about that war? We're at another war there, at the request of Uganda. And now, Australia. It's like, what is going on with this guy? Mr. anti-war has put us in what, three more locations, two of which are wars?" she said in response to a question in Webster City.
In response to a question from NBC, she explained afterward: "This is a new issue and that's something that we'll weigh in on. But again it shows that this president has no hesitancy when it comes to utilizing his military, whatever his purposes are, completely incoherent."
Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said in Iowa that he commended Obama for the troop placement in Australia.