Gingrich: Christie Drives Conservatives 'Nuts'; Still Has Shot at White House

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 07:59 PM

By Paul Scicchitano and David Patten

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Newsmax TV that while there are aspects of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that drive conservatives “nuts,” a landslide re-election win would place him squarely among the dozen or so Republican candidates who deserve a shot at the 2016 GOP nomination.

“Here's a guy who is aggressive, abrasive — takes things head on. In some ways if you're an anti-government conservative, there are aspects of Christie you really like. In other ways if you're a traditional . . . conservative, there are aspects of Christie that drive you nuts,” asserted Gingrich in an exclusive interview on Tuesday at his home in Virginia.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is About to Strike Are You Prepared?

Even so, Gingrich, who made his own run for the White House in 2012, said that Christie could emerge as one of the dozen or so governors and senators “when the dance starts” for the Republican nomination.

“If he emerges and he's going to have a big victory this fall in New Jersey — the kind of victory that's historic,” said Gingrich. “You don't think of Republicans taking a state like that, doing the things he's done, taking on the unions the way he did, and then winning a big landslide re-election.”

Gingrich is featured on a new version of the classic “Crossfire” program that debuted Monday on CNN. He is joined by conservative pundit S.E. Cupp, former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, and Stephanie Cutter, Obama's former deputy campaign chair.

“If he emerges and he's going to have a big victory this fall in New Jersey — the kind of victory that's historic — you don't think of Republicans taking a state like that, doing the things he's done, taking on the unions the way he did, and then winning a big landslide re-election,” Gingrich added of Christie. “If he can pull that off, he clearly has the credentials to be one of 10 or 12 candidates and governors.”

Gingrich also pointed to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as “very formidable” candidates if they choose to run.

Despite Perry’s well publicized gaffes during the 2012 campaign, Gingrich said he “probably will run again and be much more formidable than people expect.”

Whoever emerges from the nomination process on the Republican side will probably have to take on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Gingrich, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone else may best Clinton as President Obama did in 2008.

“She's clearly the frontrunner. She may even be the prohibitive frontrunner,” he explained. “But you take things like this fight. I mean here's someone who was for the Iraq War — and that was after all what Obama used to beat her. Now she is for the president in Syria. Well, she's in a country where 85 percent of the country doesn't agree so she's beginning to create a space for somebody new to emerge to say ‘she's a terrific person but she's the old order. We need somebody new.’”

Gingrich pointed to Clinton’s “natural caution” and the “inability of the Clintons to go away for a little while” as weaknesses.

“Somebody once said, if you don’t' leave you can't come back. And to some extent the Clintons find it very hard to get off stage long enough to be fresh when they return,” Gingrich observed.

When historians look back on the Obama presidency, Gingrich predicts that the president may not fare too well in the annals of the American presidency.

“I would say that he is likely to leave a wrecked economy, a wrecked healthcare system, and potentially a wrecked foreign policy. We're seeing in a sense all of the bad policies coming home to roost,” Gingrich explained.

“If that happens, he'll rank somewhere between Jimmy Carter and Jay Buchanan. Buchanan is clearly the worst president in American history. Carter is significantly less bad than Buchanan, but pretty bad, and it's conceivable another year or two of this floundering and you could have him rank below Carter in terms of just being ineffective.”

Sen. Rand Paul was among the first guests to appear on “Crossfire” and Gingrich views the Kentuckian’s popularity as a reflection of a broader struggle taking place in society.

“It's partly libertarian and partly populist, anti-establishment,” he said, pointing to the split within the GOP over the question of authorizing U.S. military involvement in Syria.

“It’s very dangerous for traditional analysts to try to take a (Sen.) Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul or a Mike Lee (from Utah) and put them into just an ideology framework. They also exist in a psychological framework,” according to Gingrich. “They are the early warning signals of being totally fed up with the traditional Washington establishment and they don't get any of their rewards from the old order.”

He said that Paul, Cruz, and Lee don’t play traditional politics.

“Their rewards are all from people who represent the outside and who are looking at changing things, not at accommodating things,” he said. “Speaker Rayburn used to say, ‘you go along to get along.’ These guys aren't trying to get along; these guys want to in fact change the system, even if that makes some of the senior members very uncomfortable.’”

Gingrich, who has been critical of the lack of alternatives to Obamacare, said that the president’s signature healthcare law may be responsible in part for a surge in the number of physicians in Congress.

“It's almost like big government has actually driven doctors into politics to protect their profession,” he said. “So we have guys who each of whom is adding a piece to this puzzle, but we haven't had the kind of systematic effort to bring it together into a single bill and then to really make that bill what Jack Kemp did with supply-side economics and three-year tax cuts in the Kemp-Roth bill. And they (Republicans) badly need that.”

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is About to Strike Are You Prepared?


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