Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney urged Newt Gingrich to return more than $1.6 million he made consulting for government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac, escalating the intensity of his attacks against his closest rival in the nomination contest.

“If he was there because of his political connections and then if Freddie Mac fails, I think a fair question is asked: Why did he profit as Freddie Mac failed?” Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, told reporters at the Madison Lumber Mill in Madison, New Hampshire.