Romney calls Gingrich "highly erratic" in Tampa

Romney announced Sunday that after saying he would not release his tax returns, he will release two years' worth on Tuesday. Gingrich had said it was important for Republican voters to know that information now.

This morning in Tampa, Romney turned the tables, saying there could be an "October surprise" in learning about the ethics investigation that the House conducted on Gingrich in the mid 1990s, and about his lobbying work in the aughts regarding the prescription drug benefit plan passed by Congress in 2003. "We just need to understand what his activities have been over the last 15 years," Romney warned.

Having to re-focus after South Carolina, Romney sounded more populist than he ever has in commiserating with Tampa Bay residents, who almost as a whole condemned the banks for not helping them out with their mortgages.

At times Romney joined in that criticism, but then tempered it by saying those financial institutions were worried about their powers because of legislation such as Dodd-Frank, the banking regulation bill passed by the Congress last year, a bill that Republicans like to rail against.
But he did say that in cases of fraud, with homeowners being misled by lending institutions, "there should be an effort to go after those institutions."

He also said the banks must show more flexibility in working with homeowners who are in trouble. But he called the situation with people losing their homes a "human tragedy."

Romney was asked by a reporter if he has any problems connecting with voters, a notion that Gingrich mentioned during an appearance on one of the Sunday morning shows.

"I don't think I have any challenge connecting with people on an emotional level. I do believe that people want somebody who understands how to get the economy going again," he said, brushing off the question.

  • Mitt Romney meets with local residents in Tampa

It is on.

Rocked on his heels by his decisive loss to Newt Gingrich on Monday night, Mitt Romney came out firing against his chief rival for the GOP nomination for president this morning in Tampa, calling him "highly erratic" and demanding that Gingrich show his "work product" for what he did for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, and that he give back the money he made while working for the D.C.-based group. He also blasted the former House Speaker for criticizing Romney's health care reform plan in Massachusetts, while previously supporting the individual mandate aspect of that plan.

"He's hitting the post almost like a pinball machine from item to item, which is highly erratic," Romney said. "That does not suggest a healthy stable thoughtful course, which is normally associated with leadership."

Romney made the comments at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk hotel after spending an hour in a roundtable discussion with a group of Tampa Bay area residents who have been adversely affected by the foreclosure crisis in Florida.

Romney used that discussion as an opportunity to bash Gingrich for his $30,000-a-month consulting gig with Freddie Mac, a role that Gingrich has consistently tried to play down, at one point saying he was simply a "historian" for the company.

"We ought to be able to see what he told them," Romney began when talking to dozens of reporters after his sit-down. "I hope what he told them was, with housing prices going way off into a historical trend, with lending way out of normal range, with so-called liar loans and interest-earning loans that this was a crisis about to erupt that would be devastating to the economy, to American families, that there should be a dramatic shift in the policies of Freddie Mac as well as to policies in government. I didn't hear that nationally, I didn't hear those warnings to the nation. He should have, if he was working inside this industry, providing counsel to them, he should have been providing that advice to them, and communicated that to the nation."

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