Newt Gingrich says he believes House Speaker John Boehner will be able to hold on to his gavel, despite suffering the biggest setback of his speakership Thursday night when a conservative GOP revolt shot down his effort to raise the tax rate on the most affluent.
"I think people are frustrated and there's a lot of back-biting and bickering tonight. But I think that John Boehner . . . is in good shape," Gingrich, a former House speaker himself, told Fox News' Dana Perino shortly after Boehner pulled his own "Plan B" tax bill before a scheduled vote.
"That means, basically, that [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor's got to decide to stay with him, that [Budget Committee Chairman] Paul Ryan has got to be with him, and a handful of other key players. If that happens, I suspect he'll be all right for this round," Gingrich added.
In a separate interview with Newsmax
, Gingrich said late Thursday that he was “not worried about this week or next week. I’m worried about four years from now — and I don’t see the strategy in place that is going to catch up with [President Barack] Obama.”
Boehner received unanimous support just last month to finish out his term as speaker in the current Congress. He hopes to be reconfirmed in that role when the new Congress reconvenes on Jan. 3.
But as negotiations with Obama over the so-called fiscal cliff have broken down, partly because of resistance from within the GOP caucus, conservative members have began to question his leadership and whether he is "too willing," as one member put it, to go along with the president's demand for higher tax rates on the wealthy.
The most conservative GOP members, many of them tied directly to the tea party movement, rejected that idea outright leaving Boehner short of the 218 votes he needed to pass his Plan B.
Gingrich told Perino Boehner would live to fight again, however, but he urged his Republican colleagues to put aside their internal differences and confront the reality that they face "a very big challenge over the next two years."
"They need to slow down and they need to develop a strategy," said Gingrich, adding that his party doesn't "currently have any strategy that I can tell as an outsider" on anything that will help them maintain control of the House in the 2014 midterm election.
His advice for now: "Relax" and "go home," despite the approaching fiscal cliff deadline of Jan. 1 when the current Bush era tax cuts expire for every income level and across the board spending cuts are automatically triggered.
"This is not a crisis that will end the republic," Gingrich said, although he acknowledged it is "a mess."
But he said the nation would be better served if Republican would insist on returning early next year and holding open negotiations and public committee hearings on the budget.
"I think negotiating in secret in the White House, producing a $1 trillion, $2 trillion deal in the next 10 days, I think is the worst possible outcome," he said.
"I'd say, 'Look, we'd like to fix the tax rates, we're glad to fix the tax rates. Any time the president and the Democrats want to talk and they're serious, we'll talk to them,' Gingrich continued. 'Until then, we're going to get spending under control and we're going to do what we can to save our children and grandchildren.' I think that would be a much better strategy than where they are right now."
The former speaker and presidential candidate also advised Republicans not to look at polls "for the next 12 months."
"The election is in 2014. Figure out what you want to go to the American people with, what the real choice will be in 2014," he said. "Work away at it steadily. And people will come to believe in your seriousness and in what you're trying to accomplish."
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