It is a rare sight when a GOP presidential candidate has kind words for the Obama administration. But after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the top six executives at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with securities fraud today, Rick Perry took a temporary hiatus from his usual anti-Obama rhetoric to commend the action.
"I happen to think … that this is fraudulent and criminal activity, so I hope that what we see is not only this administration but also Congress to take seriously how to put into place oversight that actually works," Perry said at a campaign stop in Iowa today. "'Fraudulent' and 'criminal' are two words that I hope we hear often as we clean this mess up and people understand that Americans are not going to allow their public servants to rip them off anymore."
But while the Texas governor had kinder-than-usual words for the president, he did not afford the same courtesy to his rival GOP contender Newt Gingrich, who has been widely criticized by the GOP field for consulting work he did with Freddie Mac.
"People are sick and tired of being ripped up by congressmen and senators who are in cahoots with Wall Street financiers, and that's basically what we have here," Perry said when asked if Gingirch's ties to the lending companies should disqualify him as a presidential contender.
At Thursday night's Fox News-sponsored GOP debate, Gingrich was blasted by his fellow candidates for his ties to Freddie Mac. The former speaker of the House claims he never lobbied, but was merely a "consultant" for the company, which paid him $1.6 million in nine years.
Ron Paul, who put out a web ad attacking Gingrich for his ties to Freddie Mac, said that $1.6 million was "literally coming from the taxpayer."
"They went broke," Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said. "We had to bail them out. So, indirectly, that was money that he ended up getting. They're still getting money from a government-sponsored enterprise. It's not a free-market enterprise."
Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota said Gingrich was "defending the continuing practice" of the mortgage companies, which have cost taxpayers more than $150 billion since the Bush administration took them over in 2008.
At an Iowa campaign event in November, shortly after news of Gingrich's Freddie Mac ties broke, Bachmann criticized Gingrich for taking money "to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie," lenders she said were "the epicenter of the financial meltdown in this country."
While Romney chose not to join the attacks Thursday night, last week he called for Gingrich to return his million-dollar paycheck , saying that "people go [to Washington] to serve the people and then they stay there to serve themselves."
Gingrich shot back that Romney should give back "all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over the years at Bain."