MIAMI, Fla. -- Playing defense for a second day over his attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s business career, Newt Gingrich accused the GOP front-runner this morning of trying to “hide” his private sector record.
“Governor Romney has been campaigning on the premise that he created 100,000 jobs. And he knows how to create jobs,” Gingrich said, of Romney’s career at the private equity firm Bain Capital, where he served as CEO.
“Release the records. Show us the facts,” Gingrich added. “You can’t run for president, have half your campaign be about your great achievements, and then hide them. And it’s silly to try. Mine are out in the open. It’s a mater of public record.”
(Of course, other elements of Gingrich’s career are not exactly “out in the open." Gingrich made money, for example, as a television commentator and from speeches, but none of that can be discerned from Gingrich’s financial disclosure because of the way he chose to file. Gingrich was also criticized for taking money from Freddie Mac as a “consultant,” but Gingrich never released what he exactly did for them or how much he made -- despite promises to do so.)
The remarks came during a visit to Café Versailles restaurant, where Gingrich addressed about 50 supporters inside a back room crowded with campaign staff, security guards, and local and national TV cameras.
Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, told supporters that he created “millions of jobs” as a young member of Congress under Ronald Reagan, and repeated a refrain that he created 11-million jobs with Bill Clinton during his time as Speaker of the House.
“To question a presidential candidate’s claim that he created jobs is not to attack capitalism -- it’s to question a candidate,” Gingrich insisted.
The defense of his strategy, which came in the middle of his speech and was unprovoked by a question from the press, marked the latest in a back-and-forth between Gingrich and several high-profile conservatives, who have spoken out in Romney’s defense.
But this morning, here in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, where the relationship with Cuba is a top issue, supporters said it was Gingrich’s foreign-policy plank that drew them to the event.
Near the restaurant’s take-out window, where people lined up for Styrofoam cups of Cuban coffee, supporter John Smithies stood with several yard signs he planned to distribute in his Coral Gables neighborhood.
Smithies, who was born in Pennsylvania to an American father and a Cuban mother, grew up in Havana until he was sent to high school in Connecticut, and college at Tulane -- where Gingrich received his Ph.D. in history.
“He’s been the strongest one to condemn the government of Cuba,” Smithies said. “If we are seeking liberty for people in the world -- and we’ve done it in Libya, and other places in the word -- we should be doing it for a country that’s been subjected to a dictatorship for 53 years.”