Santorum contrasts his record with Newt’s on Freddie Mac (audio)

As GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was finishing up an appearance today in Des Moines, his staff passed around a letter Santorum had signed in March, 2006 when he was a US Senator – a letter about the “enormous risk” Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac posed to the American taxpayer.

“I wasn’t someone who was saying, at the time, that we need to abolish them, but I saw the problems that were inherent in the system and now it’s clear to me, given what happened, we need to move away from that model,” Santorum told reporters this afternoon.  “It was amazing how many people would come in and lobby, from a variety of different places, on Fannie and Freddie…They had more lobbyists than you could shake a stick at. They had Democrats and Republicans, everybody trying to surround the congress and get them from to stop from acting.”

Did you consider Gingrich a lobbyist?

“I was busy…If you had asked me then whether I knew Newt was working for them or not…I don’t remember,” Santorum said.

Santorum is not joining colleagues Mitt Romney and Ron Paul who have called on Gingrich to return the $1.6 million he earned from Freddie Mac.

“Newt was a private businessman who went out and engaged in a contract and I’m sure he earned that money and if he earned the money, I don’t see any reason he should give it back,” Santorum said. “That’s just gotcha politics. I’m not going to play that game.”

A reporter asked if the contract with Freddie Mac was troubling, and Santorum said he would has turned down a contract from Freddie rather than get a “paycheck to say things that may not necessarily be where you are and where your past history has been” as Gingrich did.

“Look, the very fact that he went out and lobbied for an organization that, in my opinion, was not consistent with the conservative values that we have…I mean, I just wouldn’t do that,” Santorum said.  “…getting a paycheck for to say things that may not necessarily be where you are and where your past history has been.”

Santorum described Gingrich as a lobbyist and Gingrich has denied he was a lobbyist, so I asked Santorum if he considered Gingrich a Freddie Mac lobbyist. “I’m not going to contest whether he actually lobbied or not and if I said that, I apologize. I mean, I probably was not being as careful with my words as I should have been,” Santorum said. “He certainly worked for Freddie and he spoke on their behalf…He was someone promoting their values and promoting their cause.”

Listen to the AUDIO of the whole exchange.  At the end of the Q&A, Santorum was asked about Romney’s $10,000 bet.  “I was a little taken aback by it,” Santorum said.  “…That would not be a number that I would throw out.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.