JACKSONVILLE, FL -– Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to answer any and all questions about his record amid scrutiny of his relationship with mortgage lender Freddie Mac.
Gingrich was peppered with questions about how he would deal with newfound media scrutiny that's gone hand-in-hand with his rising poll numbers. The former Speaker to spend several minutes reflecting on his newfound fortunes in the poll, and with it, the media's new interest in vetting his past.
He said that the media will be raising “all sorts of questions about me” in the next few weeks because of his newfound popularity seen most recently in a Fox News poll released today which put Gingrich in a statistical tie with Romney.
“I was dead in June and July -- as a candidate, not as a person -- now I’m apparently not dead,” Gingrich said to a crowd of at least 300 at the First Coast Tea Party rally here.
He seemed to try to assure the audience that his work since leaving Congress included no lobbying, even as the mortgage giant Freddie Mac paid his firm at least $1.6 million for what he calls “strategic planning” on the company’s behalf.
“I will cheerfully answer every single question they ask and at the end of it you will be relatively convinced, I believe, that I did no lobbying of any kind, I did no influence peddling of any kind," the former Speaker explained.
He made that assertion even as his campaign had backtracked on Gingrich’s promise Wednesday to release as many documents as possible pertaining to his work with Freddie Mac. But after sending out a broad press release on the matter yesterday, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “this is it” when asked when the documents would be provided, according to the Des Moines Register.
The large crowd broke out into spontaneous chants of “Newt! Newt! Newt!” at times and was momentarily interrupted by about six Occupy Jacksonville protesters.
It seemed that they, too, had Gingrich’s relationship with Freddie Mac on their minds. One protester, Daniela James, 19, of Jacksonville, told NBC that she wanted to ask Gingrich “if his whole Freddie Mac thing is really lobbying or is really a lie.”