Nightly News | November 16, 2011
>>> now, to presidential politics , and in the demolition derby that's been the republican primary campaign so far, newt gingrich is the latest candidate to be enjoying a surge in the polls. at the same time, he's facing head winds now over what he did for the bailed out mortgage giant freddie mac . our report tonight from andrea mitchell .
>> reporter: in iowa today, newt gingrich rising in the polls was using his debating skills to pari charges he's part of the washington money game.
>> we just tried four years of ignorance and it didn't work very well.
>> reporter: at each stop he was trying to explain his status. his firm made between 1.6 and $1.8 million from freddie mac . widely blamed along with fannie mae for contributing to the housing debacle. payments that started only months after gingrich 's own party forced him out of office. when pressed in last week's cnbc debate, he said he offered advice as a hiss tore yang.
>> were you not trying to help freddie mac fend off the effort by the bush administration to curb freddie mac .
>> no, no --
>> reporter: gingrich did a lot more.
>> it's a way for a former member of congress to back door lobby, they call themselves a consultant. they're not doing -- they don't meet any of the definitions of a lobbyists, but they're still influencing policy.
>> reporter: while gingrich was privately taking freddie mac 's checks he was publicly railing against other politicians including barack obama for accepting campaign contribution s for the mortgage giants.
>> what you have is the rich on wall street and the powerful at fannie mae and freddie mac , had so many politicians bee holden to them that nobody was going to check them.
>> reporter: gingrich 's campaign has already overcome criticism of his lifestyle, tiffany purchases and a vacation cruise. now the charge that he's just another washington politician. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington .