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Gingrich Gets Serious at CPAC

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) rejected the idea that he had called New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) a "nasty woman" but stood by his other recent remarks about her "endlessly ruthless" and "very formidable" political operation in an interview this morning with Washingtonpost.com's Ed O' Keefe.

"This is an example of why journalism gets sucked into nonsense gossip," Gingrich said of his "nasty woman" comment reported in this morning's New York Post. He said he was responding to a question about Ed Koch's characterization of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a "nasty man." (Seems to The Fix that the New York Post provided that same context in their story on the matter.)

"I wasn't attacking Hillary," he added. "I was responding in a funny way to what I thought was a fairly dumb question."

Gingrich reiterated his belief that the Clinton should not be underestimated by Republicans aiming at the White House in 2008. "No Republican should think they are going to beat [the Clinton] with a Swift Boat Veterans kind of negativity," said Gingrich. "These people can out-negative anybody in the country."

Gingrich is set to keynote the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference tomorrow evening but said any discussion of his own presidential prospects are premature.

No decision will come before a national issues conference being organized by Gingrich that is set for Sept. 27 -- the anniversary of the day Gingrich unveiled the "Contract With America" in 1994. At the moment Gingrich and his allies have met with former Gov. Mitt Romney(Mass.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani already this week and plans to meet with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) as well as to reach to Clinton as well as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C) to share policy ideas on a bipartisan basis.

When his national conference concludes, Gingrich believes the answer of whether he should run or not will be clear. "Either somebody will have become the acceptable articulator of where we need to go in which case we don't need a candidate or there will be a very vivid and obvious vacuum in which case I will consider it," he said.

Watch excerpts from O'Keefe's interview with Gingrich below.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 2, 2007; 5:59 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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