Conservative columnist George Will on Sunday roundly criticized Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as "the classic rental politician."
"Gingrich's is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies everything that is disagreeable about modern Washington. He's the classic rental politician," Will said during a roundtable discussion on ABC's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."
"People think that his problem is his colorful personal life. He'll hope that people concentrate on that rather than, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich. Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra, he's all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a historian. He's not a historian."
The former House Speaker claimed he'd been hired as a "historian" by Freddie Mac after Bloomberg reported last week that Gingrich earned as much as $1.8 million as a lobbyist for the government-backed mortgage giant.
Former members of Congress frequently become lobbyists after they lose elections or retire from office. It's also not uncommon for them to eschew the title "lobbyist," even if the work they're doing is lobbying as it's commonly understood.
In that vein, the Washington Post reported last week that a think tank Gingrich founded collected at least $37 million over the past eight years from health care interests.
"When the Bush administration was trying to pass an unfunded, large new entitlement -- grafting a prescription drug entitlement onto medicare, who was out there saluting this as part of his service, I think, for Big Pharma," Will said. "[Gingrich] denounces the Ryan budget as right-wing social engineering. He sits down to talk about climate change and cap and trade with Nancy Pelosi and others. The list goes on."
The columnist also blasted Gingrich for his "absurd rhetorical grandiosity" in reference to the candidate's statement that he is "really deeply concerned about understanding America and understanding what's happening to it, both here and around the world."
"He says that he's the only man in the Republican race who's really deeply concerned about the fate of the Republic. Not true," Will said.
Fellow panelist Paul Krugman, an economist and a columnist for The New York Times, said Gingrich is "a stupid man's idea of what a smart person sounds like."