As Newt Gingrich rises in polls, can he withstand spotlight's glare?
Newt Gingrich's 'poll vault' to the top of the GOP heap means his character and record are coming under greater scrutiny. 'Everybody will dig up everything they can,' he says. 'That's fine. They should.'
Newt Gingrich is learning (again) the law of the political jungle: If you’re up in the polls, you might as well paint a big bull’s eye on your back.Skip to next paragraph
As Iowa's Kent Sorenson jumps to Ron Paul ship, rat analogies abound
Could Romney 'train' be derailed by Gingrich? Perry? Someone new?
Virginia primary: Was it so hard for Perry and Gingrich to get on the ballot?
Donald Trump as third-party candidate: Will he woo Americans Elect?
Ron Paul: why racist newsletter flap could hurt him in Iowa
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
As Mr. Gingrich rises in Republican presidential polling, and as others among the GOP contenders stumble or flame out, he is coming under much closer political and personal scrutiny.
The latest in that barrage are reports that Gingrich was paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million over eight years as a consultant for controversial mortgage company Freddie Mac.
IN PICTURES: Newt, now and then
“The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse,” Bloomberg News reported this week.
While former Freddie Mac officials told Bloomberg that Gingrich was paid to lobby Congress, Gingrich himself says his only role was as a “historian” offering “strategic advice” to the giant mortgage company, and he strongly denies doing any lobbying. (Gingrich defenders also point out that other powerful politicians have worked for government-created mortgage companies; Obama White House chief of staff William Daley was on the board of Fannie Mae, and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel served on Freddie Mac’s board.)
In any case, Gingrich’s having done any work at all designed to benefit Freddie Mac may not sit well with tea party conservatives, who now appear to be gravitating toward the former House speaker – at least in the volatile world of political polling.
At the moment, according to a new Fox News poll, 35 percent of self-identified tea partyers now support Gingrich, 15 percent back Romney, 20 percent back Herman Cain, 7 percent back Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and 8 percent back Rep. Michele Bachmann. Among likely Republican primary voters generally, Gingrich (23 percent) and Romney (22 percent) are dead even.
Gingrich also is being scrutinized by traditional conservatives now digging through his long record as a member of Congress and an outspoken policy wonk since then.
An organization calling itself “Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government” has distributed fliers and sent e-mail critical of Gingrich’s political and personal history.