Barney Frank vs. Newt Gingrich: Retiring House Member Challenges GOP Candidate On Gay Marriage

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) took a few swipes at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich Monday at a press conference in Newton, Mass. announcing his retirement.

"I did not think I had lived a good enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee," Frank said. "I look forward to debating, to take one important example, the Defense of Marriage Act with Mr. Gingrich. I think he is an ideal opponent for us, when we talk about just who it is, is threatening the sanctity of marriage," he said. The Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and allows states not to recognize other states' same-sex marriages. Frank is gay, while Gingrich has been married three times. "He would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater," added Frank.

"Let me be very clear, I will be neither a lobbyist nor a historian," he said when asked whether he would be a lobbyist. Frank was referring to Gingrich's role as a strategic adviser for Freddie Mac, which the Republican candidate described in a GOP primary debate as being a "historian." Former Freddie Mac officials have described his role as persuading Capitol Hill Republicans not to dismantle the government-sponsored enterprise.

Frank also answered a question on whether the electoral chances of House Democrats in 2012 contributed to his decision. "I think frankly things are looking better for the Democrats, if Newt Gingrich is the nominee, then wow," he said. He added that House Democrats' 2012 chances did not figure into his decision.

Frank recently called Gingrich a "lobbyist and a liar." Gingrich suggested in October that the House member and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the two top Democrats behind Wall Street reform legislation, should be in jail for the financial crisis.

Gingrich was not the only Republican candidate targeted by Frank. "The Republican party today in the House ... it consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half afraid of people who are afraid of losing a primary to someone who thinks like Michele Bachmann," said Frank.