Over the past few days, Newt Gingrich and his super PAC have been attacking Mitt Romney as a "corporate raider" for his work at Bain Capital, and Gingrich has faced considerable pushback from many on the right. While campaigning at the Palmetto Senior Show on the Columbia fairgrounds today, Gingrich pivoted from the Bain attacks and said the reason some "so-called conservatives" are going after him is because he wants to know how the Wall Street bailout money was spent.
Here are Gingrich's remarks at the Palmetto Senior Show:
"Something that's come up in the last four or five days has been fascinating. How many of you think that all of the money that flowed from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury and slopped its way through New York--that we the taxpayers deserve some kind of accounting for where all of those billions and billions of dollars went? And how many think we deserve to know why the big banks got bailed out with big money, but folks who own mortgages and folks in small towns ... somehow couldn't?"
"So I've been asking some questions. And I am amazed at the intensity of the counterattack. It's almost as though, if you ask questions you're somehow challenging the whole system. But I want you to understand how I feel as a candidate for president. The American people have the right to know what has been happening to their economy, and they have the right to know where all the money went. We deserve an audit of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to find out where every penny went and where every document is and why they got the money.
"Now this rattled a number of so-called conservatives who say to challenge where the money went and to challenge what deals were cut is to be anti-free enterprise. I think just the opposite. I think when you have crony capitalism of politicians taking care of their friends, that's not free enterprise. That's just back-door socialism, in which the rich get all the money and the rest of us get left with all the debt. I'm not going to back down or be afraid to say, we the American people have the right to know. And any candidate for president has an obligation to tell us. And I think the idea that the extraordinarily wealthy institutions are gonna somehow bring enough pressure to bear to say, 'You better shut up,' tells you just how bad off the system has gotten.
"No one tells the American people they don't have the right to learn what has happened in their very own country. And that's what's at stake."
Gingrich didn't mention Romney or Bain, and the attempt to frame the issue as a fight about the Wall Street bailout--which occurred long after Romney left Bain in 2002--suggests Gingrich does not want to directly go after Romney's work at Bain.