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Gingrich Finds God in Washington

By Mike Allen
Monday, January 10, 2005; Page A07

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich says he "got fed up with people who argue that somehow the concept of the creator wasn't central to how the Founding Fathers understood America." So in a book being published today, he includes a 19-page "Walking Tour of God in Washington, D.C.," cataloging references to the Bible, Moses and a heavenly father on the Capitol, monuments and memorials.

"In the last 30 years, you had this politically correct delegitimizing of God in American public life, which I think is a denial of the core of American civilization," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

In his new tome, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer finds media biased toward conflict.

The book, "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America," offers a different prescription for Social Security than the one the White House is promoting to pay for the transition to private accounts for younger workers. "I do not believe you can build a majority in this country for cutting benefits," Gingrich said. He calls for shoring up the system by building an off-budget sinking fund over 30 years, likening the idea to a home mortgage.

Gingrich's book tour includes stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Georgia Republican has encouraged speculation that he might run for president in 2008. His official position is that he is not ruling it out. "If you wanted to shape language and ideas in American politics, where are the two places you'd most want to go?" he said. "If I can get the Des Moines Register and the Manchester Union Leader asking the right questions, I've won half the fight."

In June, he will publish the end of a trilogy of Civil War novels.

Weekend in Williamsburg

More than two dozen members of the freshman House class, many with spouses and children, spent the weekend in Colonial Williamsburg at a "legislative issues and procedures" seminar sponsored by the House and the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service. The members got to see a House of Burgesses reenactment, but most of the time was spent on such topics as "Dimensions of Energy Policy" and "Legislative and Budget Processes." To encourage bipartisanship, their name tags did not have a party designation.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) called the discussion "content rich." Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said everyone was "eager to learn and eager to work." Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) said his colleagues were trying to learn the problems "before we launch off into what should be the solutions."

White House Heat

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer goes easy on his former boss but occasionally knocks reporters in "Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House," out March 1. Fleischer, who now lives in New York, said his memoir is "about how the news gets made and how it gets covered." He said he explores "the dynamic between a free press and a sometimes-reluctant-to-share White House."

"My conclusion is that the press is biased -- biased in favor of conflict," Fleischer said. "There is an ideological element -- a subtle bias on policy issues, particularly on social policy issues, that favors Democrats more than Republicans. But that bias is secondary. Conflict comes first, regardless of whether the press is covering a Democrat or a Republican."

DCCC Gets New Chairman

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) named Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, replacing Rep. Robert T. Matsui (Calif.), who died New Year's Day. Emanuel, a White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, said Democrats will try to retake the House in 2006 by offering themselves as "the party that represents robust change and reform, rather than the status quo of special-interest protection."

Also yesterday, former representative Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana, a Catholic who opposes abortion, added his name to the field seeking the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee during an appearance on ABC's "This Week."

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