Today in Florida, Mitt Romney is fighting back against Newt Gingrich on his ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the housing crisis. He's placed new ads, made statements to reporters, and used his campaign surrogates like former rival candidate Tim Pawlenty to say Gingrich can't be trusted because he "cashed in" while Florida families were losing their homes.
At the same time, Romney held a rountable discussion on the housing crisis in Tampa with eight local residents suffering due to the housing market here in Florida, and while he offered no policy solutions to the housing problem, he blamed too many regulations for the problem.
As each person recounted their struggles with banks, lenders, mortgages, loans and employment, the Republican presidential candidate expressed his sympathies, calling the accounts "just tragic," and said they "break my heart."
Romney did not specify policies he would enact or change if elected, but blamed regulatory laws for paralyzing banks and vowed to focus on job creation.
"The banks are scared to death . . . they're feeling the same thing you're feeling," he said to the group at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Tampa.
But Romney asked the group to hold out hope for the future.
"It will get better," he said. "We'll not always be like this. This is a detour from America's history."
Offering sympathetic words like "it breaks my heart" but no advice beyond waiting for things to get better, it's clear where the man who owns several houses sympathy lies: With the banks.
Anyone who has paid attention and/or lost their home knows the Romney claim of too many regulations causing the housing bubble is laughable on its face, as is the statement "The banks are scared to death . . . they're feeling the same thing you're feeling." No, the banks are feeling quite good actually, and Romney knows that. Just look at the size of his Wall Street buddies contributions to his campaign for evidence of that.
On the subject of hitting Newt Gingrich on his ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sure Gingrich was paid by the company for what he claims wasn't lobbying but rather as a "historian" and a consultant. That's certainly a valid argument, but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn't cause the housing crisis no matter how many times Romney places the blame on them along with Newt Gingrich.
However, on the subject of Fannie and Freddie, Mitt Romney has his own ties to the mortgage lenders.
But what Romney isn't letting on, the Boston Globe reports, is that at the same time he's ripped Fannie and Freddie, he has also raked in cash from personal investments in the two companies, which the federal government took over in September 2008.
On his financial disclosure statement filed last month, Romney reported owning between $250,001 and $500,000 in a mutual fund that invests in debt notes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among other government entities. Over the previous year, he had reported earning between $15,001 and $50,000 in interest from those investments.
And unlike most of Romney's financial holdings, which are held in a blind trust that is overseen by a trustee and not known to Romney, this particular investment was among those that would have been known to Romney.
The Globe also notes that the fund containing Romney's Fannie and Freddie funds also included investments in Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase. If Romney invested in those banks in the second half of 2007, as a campaign aide says he did, then Romney's investments benefited from the federal bailout of those banks, which received tens of billions of dollars to stay afloat.
Here we have not just the hypocrisy involved with Romney's own ties to Fannie, Freddie, and his investments with the banks above who, in his own words are "feeling the same things" homeowners are feeling: scared to death, but the possibility that Romney may have benefited from the bank bailouts as well.
Looking at the dates from the article above, if Romney did make those investments, it's likely he won't be sharing that information with voters. While Romney finally said he'll release some of his tax returns on Tuesday, he's only releasing his returns from 2010, and just an estimate for 2011.
Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have no solutions to this or any other crisis beyond trying to place blame on each other and President Obama, but they both in all likelihood have a beneficial interest in doing nothing to make changes that will help everyday Americans.
The entire Republican Party line on the banks and regulations is that they have too many regulations. What do they have to offer the victims?
Flowery words and a pat on the head at a campaign stop photo-op.