Naples, Fla.—On-again/off-again Republican front-runner Mitt Romney blasted his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, for his ties to the mortgage industry at a rally here this morning. Speaking before an overflow crowd Romney chided Gingrich for his "excuse making" about the debates before pivoting to his ties to Freddie Mac.
"The first debate audience was quiet and Speaker Gingrich said that threw him off, he can't debate before a quiet audience. The next audience was very loud, very loud, and he said that threw him off. He can't debate before a loud audience," Romney said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
"He's like Goldilocks, ya know, and at this point it has to be just so," he said.
The woman behind me was puzzled.
"Goldilocks? I don't get it," she whispered to her companion.
"One of the greatest contributros to the collapse of housing here and across trhe country was government," Romney said. "At the time some people were standing up saying we need to reform the system. Speaker Gingrich was being paid $1.6 million dollars to stand up and say, 'These programs should continue the way they are.'"
"BOOO!" came the response from the crowd.
"The people of Florida have had enough of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and government interference, and it's time to get back to free-market princpiples!"
Moving on from Gingrich, Romney proceeded to give his standard stump speech attacking President Barack Obama for his handling of the debt and involvement with Solyndra's failure, all while Romney touted his own private sector experience.
Occasional shouts and murmurs could be heard in the crowd. At first this consisted mainly of people bitching about not being able to see.
Then the noise in the back began to sound more like yodeling. A handful of Occupy Wall Street protestors had arrived late to the event and were milling about at the back with fake dollar bills taped across their faces, supposedly representing how "money is speech".
One Occupier was carrying a poster that featured the words "OCCUPY" and was shaped like the solidarty fist.
One Romney staffer I talked to said the Occupiers haven't been a problem for them in Florida.
"New Hampshire was rough though," he said.