Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who announced he was running for president Wednesday, says if elected he will offer a new “Contract with America” that would give him and a Republican Congress a mandate on a new way to govern America “on the very first day.”
Gingrich also told Fox News, on his first interview since his announcement, that President Barack Obama will be hard to beat “because he is going to say whatever he needs to win.”
Gingrich authored the first Contract with America in 1994, which helped lead to a seismic political shift in Washington and paved the way for Republican victories in Congress — after almost five decades in the minority.
“Well, I think, first of all, it can’t be just a Gingrich presidency — we need 12 more Republican seats in the Senate — and we need about 40 more Republican seats in the House,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “But if we had a contract in the fall of 2012, and if we had an election on core principles, and we won that election, then we would have a mandate starting on the very first day with the executive orders.
“And the goal would be to stop, after the inaugural address, and before the legislative luncheon and spend one hour signing pre-existing executive orders, so the speed with which you would start to turn the ship would be that day, not a month later, not two months,” he said. “Second, I would want to work with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, to have a team contract that they are pledged to pass in the first 120 days.”
Gingrich said the executive orders would be online during the campaign and one of the first he would sign “would abolish all the White House czars.”
“This is about millions of Americans deciding we can win the future with the right policies leading to the right outcomes,” Gingrich said. “President Obama has the wrong policies leading to the wrong outcomes.”
In 1994 Gingrich led Republicans to their first majority in the House in four decades and then served four tumultuous years as speaker, as the House leader is known.
Gingrich later acknowledged having carried on an affair with a congressional aide, now his third wife, at the same time he was criticizing President Bill Clinton for his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich's marital history could mean trouble with conservative Christians who turn out in big numbers for the party's nominating primaries, according to an AP report.
The Obama Factor
Hannity reminded Gingrich that he once said that Obama would be very difficult to beat.
“He will be, because first of all, he is going to say whatever he needs to, to win,” Gingrich said. “Second, he’s going to have all of the advantages of the mainstream media, he’s going to have all the advantages of left-wing billionaires like George Soros. He’s going to have all the advantages of the Hollywood crowd.
“And they are going to go out and they’re going to have all the advantages of the unions. And so, they are going to try to raise a billion dollars for a very practical reason,” he added. “He can’t afford to run in a fair election.”
Gingrich also said he could eliminate the skyrocketing national debt and balance the budget, noting it was done when he was House speaker in the mid-1990s.
“We know for example, that if you really are serious about balancing the budget, you can do it — we did it; it took us three years,” he said. “We then balanced it for four consecutive years — we paid off $405 billion in debt. Nobody thought we could do it when it started. We did it.”
Gingrich said balancing the budget would take “I think probably five years. But it depends in part on how fast you can re-grow the economy.”
As speaker, Gingrich made the sort of deals that current conservative activists say they disdain: creation of a new health care benefit program as part of a balanced budget agreement with Clinton, for example.
The 67-year-old former Georgia congressman will be among the oldest candidates — if not the oldest — in a still-forming Republican field of politicians with far more recent political experience, according to an AP report. Among those considering bids are Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, two darlings of the ultraconservative Tea Party movement.
Hannity asked Gingrich how he would deal with entitlement programs and noted Obama said the spending plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would force sick children and senior citizens to “fend for themselves.”
“Let me say first of all: President Obama should be ashamed of himself. For the president of the United States, a year-and-a half before an election, to deliberately use dishonest scare tactics demeans the United States of America,” Gingrich said. “He said things about Paul Ryan’s budget that were falsehoods — and he said things that were deliberately divisive. He did the same in El Paso on immigration.
“I would say to you, that I have enormous faith in the American people,” he said. “We undertook welfare reform. We brought in all the governors and we had a tremendous team effort — never before done — we passed the welfare reform with two out of three people went to work or went to school.
“We then did something that has never been studied but was actually amazing: In 1996, we were told that Medicare would go broke in very a short time. I personally chaired the Medicare task force,” Gingrich continued.
“Brought together the Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee — and did it with AARP not fighting us, with a liberal Democrat in the White House running for re-election,” he said. “And we passed a major reform of Medicare with the president signing it.”
Gingrich admitted that reforming Social Security would be a more difficult task.
“You deal with Social Security by first of all going out and holding a whole series of hearings around the country in which the only people who come are under 30 years of age,” he said. “And you say to people under 30: ‘You look at your lifetime, you look at the real numbers, you come advise us, what plan do you want?’
“Because this is about your future — and get it away from politics, get away from interest groups, get away from Washington and lobbyists,” Gingrich said.
After a party setback in the November 1998 elections, Gingrich announced abruptly he would be stepping down as speaker and, though re-elected by his district in Georgia, would retire from the House. He left in the face of a leadership challenge, with some Republicans disillusioned with his temperament, according to an AP report.
During his speakership Gingrich was reprimanded by the House in 1997 and agreed to pay a $300,000 assessment for the costs of an investigation into questions about the political use of a tax-exempt college course he offered.
Soaring Gas Prices
Hannity asked how Gingrich would deal with soaring gas prices.
“I would reverse Obama’s entire pattern of being anti-American energy. I would start by saying drill here — drill now, pay less,” he said. “I would go out on offshore oil. I would go out and encourage other developments. I would also encourage flex- fuel cars. And I would encourage blender pumps, so that you would have a choice of what you are buying at the pump.
“The fact is, if we decided that we were serious about American energy, and we had a government that was actually pro-energy, you would find that within three to five years, we would be dramatically more productive and prices were coming down,” Gingrich said.
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