Gingrich: 'I'm not in the business of lobbying, period'

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"I would assume they wanted the strategic advice of somebody who had been Speaker of the House and somebody who knew a fair amount about what was going on. And from that perspective I was very happy to offer them advice," Gingrich said.

But the former Speaker, who has been surging to the top of polls in the past week, disputed a report in Bloomberg that quoted Freddie Mac officials saying that Gingrich was hired to "build bridges" to House Republicans, rather than — as Gingrich maintains — for his historical insight.

"Well I don’t know what they thought their intent was, but I didn’t build bridges," he said. "I don’t do lobbying."

Gingrich did admit that he may have suggested the names of individuals on Capitol Hill for Freddie Mac officials to target, but insisted that he did none of the lobbying himself.

"I may have offered them advice on what they could do, which I do routinely. I mean, somebody will come in and say ‘how would you try to solve this?’ and I say ‘well if I were you I’d go do this," Gingrich said.

He also denied that his actions were similar to those of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who Gingrich has criticized for accepting campaign contributions from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Frank opposed a Bush administration proposal to transfer oversight of the public corporations from Congress to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and conservatives have blamed this move for enabling the companies to underwrite bad mortgages.

"I wasn't Speaker at the time, but Barney Frank was in Congress," Gingrich said.

"The difference was, did I do something for them when I was Speaker, that would be a very different thing."

Shifting from the Freddie Mac story, which is dominating Wednesday's campaign news cycle, Gingrich also responded to a flier circulating around Iowa from a group called “Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government,” that attacks the former Speaker's personal life. Gingrich has admitted to past marital infidelities.

"The fact that some anonymous group puts out an absurd document doesn't change the truth and doesn't change me," Gingrich said.

Gingrich also was asked to respond to comments by Herman Cain to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in which he said that he was "not supposed to know anything about foreign policy." Although Gingrich has generally declined to attack his Republican opponents, frequently citing Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment," he did take the opportunity to tweak Cain.

"I think, in fact, as Speaker I learned a fair amount [about foreign policy] and I think it's important in a dangerous world for a president to know about it," Gingrich said.