(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich asked his staff and supporters not to attack other Republican candidates. The letter comes a day after Gingrich and Mitt Romney exchanged criticisms of each other’s previous work experience while campaigning in New Hampshire.
“I am instructing all members of my campaign staff and respectfully urge anyone acting as a surrogate for our campaign to avoid initiating attacks on other Republican candidates. It is my hope that my Republican opponents will join me in this commitment,” Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, wrote in a Tuesday letter to his staff and supporters.
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney criticized Gingrich's consulting work for Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac backs home-mortgage loans and is thought to be a major contributor to the housing bubble that led to the financial collapse in 2008. The federal government took over Freddie Mac and its sister organization Fannie Mae in 2008 to try to prevent their pending bankruptcies and a collapse of the housing market.
Presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul argued in Saturday's debate that, due to the government bailout, Gingrich was paid, in a sense, by taxpayer money.
After Romney was asked by Fox News on Monday if Gingrich should return the money he received from Freddie Mac, he replied, “I sure do. He was on a debate saying that politicians who took money from Freddie [Mac] and Fannie [Mae] should go to jail, which is outrageous in itself.”
Gingrich responded by saying, “I love the way he and his consultants do these things. I would just say that if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain [Capital], that I would be glad to then listen to him. And I’ll bet you $10, not 10,000, that he won’t take the offer.”
Gingrich's response was similar to arguments made by Democrats who have argued that Romney's business investments led him to sometimes lay off workers in order to make companies more profitable, and these actions should disqualify him from the presidency.
Gingrich was sharply rebuked by conservatives for what was seen as an anti-capitalism attack on Romney.
In a blog post titled, “Gingrich slips: Shows his nasty, anti-free market self,” conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin remarked, “Umm, but Mitt Romney, you know, earned the money from the private sector. Gingrich, his opponents point out, profited from the taxpayers’ calamity.”
Conservative columnist Charles Kraughthammer, on Fox News' “Special Report,” said Gingrich should not have answered Romney's criticism by “attacking what is essentially the essence of capitalism – taking risks.”
The Romney campaign responded by sending an email to reporters containing a video of Gingrich speaking at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference in which he said, “I know that Governor Romney made a powerful case here and, frankly, Governor Romney in his business career created more jobs than the entire Obama Cabinet combined, so he can actually talk about it.”
Gingrich alluded to Monday's exchange between himself and Romney in his letter, writing, “I have refrained from launching attacks on my Republican opponents, though I have reserved the right to respond when my record has been distorted. On Monday this occurred when Governor Romney and I engaged in what in diplomatic circles is called 'a frank exchange' over our respective records in the private sector.”