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OPINION

Gingrich under microscope as he rises in GOP polls

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Newt Gingrich is getting all kinds of scrutiny now that he's climbed to the top tier in the GOP presidential race.

Bloomberg News reports that the former House speaker was paid "between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees" by Freddie Mac. Gingrich was asked about $300,000 from the mortgage company during the recent GOP presidential debate in Michigan.

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The report comes as a new poll shows Gingrich is more electable than anyone else in the GOP field. Gingrich trails President Obama in a hypothetical matchup by two percentage points -- better than Mitt Romney, who is the next closest GOP candidate, according to the McClatchy-Marist Poll.

As Herman Cain and Rick Perry struggle, Gingrich has been slowly gaining ground in national and state public opinion polls. With that rise has come another look at the former House speaker's considerable past -- his previous remarks, policy positions and personal life.

A group identifying itself as Iowans for Christian Leadership in Government circulated a flier about Gingrich's extramarital affairs. Politico reported on an e-mail that was making the rounds citing some of Gingrich's quotes about topics such as illegal immigration and Medicare.

Gingrich's "baggage has baggage," says the headline on a column this week by Joan Walsh of Salon.

Gingrich told a Jacksonville radio station on Tuesday that he expects the news media to come after him. "I fully expect them to dig up everything they can, throw the kitchen sink at me and see if they can stop me," he said on WBOB.

Back to Gingrich's work for Freddie Mac, which has been the subject of news reports since last week's debate at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.

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Gingrich has said he acted as a "historian" in advising Freddie Mac, explaining at the GOP debate that he did no lobbying and warned the mortgage company of the housing bubble and that its lending practices were "insane."

The Bloomberg story cites former Freddie Mac officials, who were not named, as saying that Gingrich never "raised the issue of the housing bubble or was critical of Freddie Mac's business model."

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told Bloomberg that the campaign disagrees with that account. Gingrich has insisted he did no lobbying and his campaign describes his previous work as "strategic advice."

The Gingrich campaign's statement about Freddie Mac is on its website.

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