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Gingrich Plays Coy on '08 Plans

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said the only way Republicans can win the White House next year is with a relentless focus on the future, not the past.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich, the man who lead the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress, says he knows how Republicans can win the White House again in 2008. (AP Photo)

"If the 2008 campaign is a referendum on the past, Democrats will win," Gingrich predicted during a lunch interview with a group of Washington Post reporters and editors. "If the 2008 campaign is a referendum on the future, Democrats will lose."

But when it came to his own future, Gingrich remained coy when asked about his own plans (or lack thereof) to run for president in 2008.

He reiterated his intention to put off even thinking about it until Sept. 30. The two most important factors he says will affect that decision: Is anyone filling the solution-oriented space that Gingrich believe the party must occupy to win 2008 and can Gingrich be ready with a palette of issues that can energize the American public.

"It is extraordinarily important to develop a menu of solutions that are real and explainable that can attract the support of 70 to 80 percent" of the American public, said Gingrich. "Can we do that before Sept. 30th?"

When asked whether he would run an unorthodox campaign if he does decide to seek the GOP nomination, Gingrich smiled broadly before delivering a condemnation of professional political consultants. "Consultants are useful as subsidiary technicians and very, very dangerous as substitutes for leadership," Gingrich said. "The more you lead, the more you learn."

He repeatedly referenced Abraham Lincoln as a guidepost for his own governing philosophy -- mentioning that his wife, Callista, recently bought him a ten-volume biography of the former president penned by two of Lincoln's associates ("Abraham Lincoln: A History," by John M. Hay and John George Nicolay).

"It is possible to move very big systems if you have very clear [objectives] and are willing to change things," Gingrich said.

A few other nuggets from Gingrich:

* Asked about how his past marital infidelity would impact a presidential campaign, Gingrich punted. "Were I ever to be a candidate, voters would have to decide," he said.

* Gingrich said two books provided the philosophical basis for the 1994 Contract With America: "The Election of Andrew Jackson" by Robert Remini and "The Changing American Voter" by Norman Nie.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 21, 2007; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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George W. Bush has been our best president yet. The only thing he could have done better in the middle east would have been to nuke them all and start from scratch. He is number one in my book and his policies are better than any liberal - any day. If Hillary Rotten Clinton is elected during 2008, we'd might as deed our country to the terrorists and move to the moon!

Posted by: Jonathon | March 23, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

By all means Newt should run. He will be a reminder to all people of the fat bloated Republican Congressional leadership. He is the corpulent poster boy for hypocrisy, greed and incompetence. Plus he will soak up Republican donor dollars that will be desperately needed by a legitimate republican candidate if one should ever surface. If he were the nominee he would go down in flames and drag the republican party down with him from Dog Patch to Wachington DC.

Posted by: redman | March 23, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Gingrich is even being considered as a candidate is an indication of how weak the Red field is.

Or maybe he should declare as a Democrat so he could run against the weak Republicans!

If he's so focused on the future, why are all his references to past history? Or maybe he's going to try to repopularize the old stovepipe hat?

Posted by: pacman | March 22, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

As a conservative Christian, there's no way I would or could vote for Gingrinch. The man is a first class hypocrite. To govern conservatively and live life as a member of the "me" generation is totally hypocritical. I think there's good reason Gingrich is not getting into the race, because any decent and self respecting conservative wouldn't vote for him.

How can we trust him to do the right thing and be loyal to our country? He couldn't be loyal in any of his marriages. Who's to say he wouldn't sell us out, when he sold out his 1st 2 marriages to be loyal to himself? Gingrich is a liar and a cheat. Although, he could tackle the obesity problem here in America...he could start by joining a gym!

Posted by: reason | March 22, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Newt Gingrich - a legend in his own mind.

Posted by: steve | March 22, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

'WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Planners for Iraq reconstruction did not anticipate conditions after the 2003 invasion, setting the scene for lackluster services that still plague the country, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector.

The report, released Thursday, made nine recommendations for improvements for future nation-building plans by the United States.'

Future nation-building? I was sort of hoping we might just concentrate on problems we have at home here for awhile.

You know, that maybe we might have learned something from all this....

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Eric Chavez makes a good point. By the time Newt gets around to deciding if he's in or out, the train will have long since left the station.

Newt is too experienced in politics and knows too much about history to believe he can remain coy about a possible candidacy until the fall of this year. He must have a secret agenda. Maybe he intends to throw his support to one of the top tier Republicans to help him gain momentum as we go into the primary season, in exchange for a cabinet level appointment. Or maybe he just intends to write another book.

Whatever he's got planned, one thing seems sure. The race will effectively be between the top tier candidates at that point. The also rans will have run out of money by then and barring some unpredictable bombshell, there will be no way an undeclared candidate can enter the race at that late date.

Posted by: John Cronin | March 22, 2007 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Every voter counts.

Posted by: Chester Goad | March 22, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Stu Rothenberg on this one:

"Voters want to see a candidate's passion for office, and that means going out there and working for the nomination. By sitting on the sidelines for so long, Gingrich is saying that he isn't all that passionate about the presidency. And his strategy of waiting to make a decision reeks of arrogance."

Posted by: Eric Chavez | March 21, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Lylepink: since this campaign began, have you ever, even for a split second, considered voting for someone who is not Hillary? If not, why not? It can't be her personal charm, because she doesn't have much. It can't be her policy positions, because they do not differ substantially from those of other candidates. It can't be her connection to Bill, because two others (Richardson and Gore) actually SERVED in Bill's administration, and I don't remember one word from you about them. And it certainly can't be her looks. So why?

Posted by: DB Cooper | March 21, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Newt? A philanderer of Clintonian proportions, as President? Should we line up Rent-a-Wife limos outside the White House? Yah, he talks good, and is a good thinker. But it still takes having the respect of the electorate to carry a majority, folks.

I agree with Mike--Mrs. Clinton has far too much baggage, including her cuddly hubbie. As a member of the loyal opposition, she is of course my favorite candidate, since she will almost without question lose, regardless who she is up against. Obama is somewhat more disturbing--he could actually win. So I sincerely wish Mrs. Clinton well in the primaries. Wasn't it Mao who said "a weak adversary is one to be cherished at all times"?

Posted by: conservative | March 21, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

US President Anonymous, US Senate Anonymous, US House Anonymous: best major candidate.

Posted by: Tim Kalemkarian | March 21, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

There is an independant grassroots effort underway gathering support for a Newt Gingrich Presidential bid. Go to for more info.

Posted by: Matt Keller | March 21, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I can totally see us electing Gingrich so that he can free the slaves and save the union. It's funny how modern politicians always compare themselves to historical figures who may have had completely different philosophies but are seen positively by history. I think it's like they said in "Bull Durham:" everyone was always Joan of Arc or Abraham Lincoln in a past life. No one is ever the reincarnation of Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce.

Posted by: Iva Norma Stitts | March 21, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

You mean like the economic weakness during the Clinton years? had a record economy during the Clinton years and nothing but staggeringly large deficits during the Bush years. You mean like the large scale terror attacks during the Clinton years? happened almost a year into Bush's presidency. You mean like the military being horribly overextended and its capabilities degraded over a war of choice like Iraq? was the Bush Administration too.

I give up KoolAid, what the heck are you talking about?!

Posted by: J, Crozier | March 21, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Newt gets my vote. He's the smartest, most articulate candidate out there (on either sides). I wonder if everyone on this blog who is upset with Newt's "hypocracies", will be able to vote for Hillary (For the wait...against the war).

Dems will, unfortunately, win in '08 and probably again in '12. America will suffer an economic implosion, along with a weakened national defense. After 8 years, a terrible recession and, likely another large-scale terror attack, Americans will go Republican in '16...and balance will be brought to the force again.

Posted by: How'sdaKoolAid? | March 21, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

MikeB: I cannot believe you are getting more like ZOUK in your delusion and out and out hate of Hillary. When you even think of Newtie winning anything, well, well.

Posted by: lylepink | March 21, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

Posted by: anonoymous | March 21, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Easy now Maria! Not all of us Idahoans inbreed. Some of us are even halfway educated and have learned to walk without our knuckles dragging on the ground. :)

Posted by: J. Crozier | March 21, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

other than that, mrs. gingrich, how did you like the play?

Posted by: meuphys | March 21, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

His wife, Callista, gave him a biography of Abraham Lincoln..

his third wife Callista, the young choir singer he left his second wife for, whom he left his first wife for, btw, while she was recovering from cancer surgery.

Umm, somehow that doesn;t sound much like Abraham Lincoln to me...

Posted by: drindl | March 21, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big Hillary fan but if you think her "baggage" is similar to George Bush's, you are the one smoking crack. I would not be thrilled about her getting the nomination but there is no way in hell that I would vote for a Republican after the last six years. And yes, I used to be a registered Republican...NEVER AGAIN.

The only people that really "detest" Hillary are the inbred gay-hating, women-fearing Limbaugh fans that are Bush's 29 percent. They should all move to Utah or Idaho and form their own cult.

All the candidates on the Republican side are looking like a bunch of assclowns. Too bad McCain sold out to the wackos and Bushies or he would be doing a lot better right now. Newt? You think America wants THAT GUY in the White House? No way, dude. Crusty Old White Guy who got driven out of the House and who had (ugh) an affair while lynching Clinton for the same thing? What a joke. If he thinks that the Republicans will only win if they somehow come to represent the "future" (good luck guys) then he knows that he should not even try. He isn't being "coy", he is just basking in all the attention. Go away Newt. We don't like you and we never have.

Posted by: Maria | March 21, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

What a moron this Newt guy is. It's not about the past or the future... it's about the present. Presently, the GOP is in the toilet and doing nothing to change their political fortunes. If Gingrich wants to pretend there is some scenario wherein the Republicans retain the White House after the disasterous reign of George W Bush, he is only fooling himself and the rest of the GOP.

Posted by: ErrinF | March 21, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Look, I detest virtually every Republican running (most Republicans for that matter), but if you delusional fools think Hillary Clinton is going to win over anyone, you are smokin' crack! Hillary Clinton is the single most detested politician since George W. Bush and has very similar baggage. She has NO CHANCE, NONE, of being popularly elected. If she is nominated, a third party candidate will arise as surely as the sun and that third party candidate will WIN or come so close to it that the election will be thrown to Congress. If Hillary wins there, she will find a country that is 2/3 against her and completelty and total ungovernable - and when I say 2/3 against her, I mean 2/3 that will hate her guts, do anything and everything to make governing impossible. And I wouldn't blame them one bit.

Posted by: MikeB | March 21, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see how many of the "traditional values" voters go Democrat in '08 if the Republican nominee is anyone but Romney, since most everyone else has either been an adulterer or divorced or both.

Posted by: J. Crozier | March 21, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

"Asked about how his past marital infidelity would impact a presidential campaign, Gingrich punted. "Were I ever to be a candidate, voters would have to decide," he said."

Normally this would warrant a loud guffaw and a complete discounting of the candidate's chances. However, given that Gingrich's past adulterous behavior nearly matches the GOP average he probably should have said "the voters would have to hold their noses and decide" between the lesser of evils at least during the primaries. It would be interesting to see how responsive the typical GOP primary voter would be to Gingrich's cerebral, out-of-the-box ideas (answer: NOT!).

On the bright side of the aisle, the entire field of Dems (leaving out Kucinich) has accumulated fewer divorces than Rudy Giuliani.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 21, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

If Gingrich is the Republi-scum nominee, the Democrats will win by a landslide, no matter who the Democratic nominee is. Newt is such a pompous gasbag.

Posted by: Progressive | March 21, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh please, God, let the Republican's nominate Gingrich......and the Democrats nominate Clinton, please! With those two loosers splitting the fanatic and looney tune votes between them, a third party candiate, any sane third party candidate, would simply walk away with the election and we could begin disassembling the power base and big money and whack jobs and out right crooks that run the DNC and RNC.

Posted by: MikeB | March 21, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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