Pessimism About the GOP's White House Prospects

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is urging GOP candidates to break from President Bush, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, below left, broke with predecessor Jacques Chirac, below.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is urging GOP candidates to break from President Bush, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, below left, broke with predecessor Jacques Chirac, below. (By John L. Russell -- Associated Press)

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

THE GINGRICH PRIMER

Pessimism About the GOP's White House Prospects

Newt Gingrich, who must wake up each day spewing ideas and dispensing advice, yesterday offered a gloomy prognosis of his party's chances of winning the White House in 2008 and played down his own prospects of running.

"I believe for any Republican to win in 2008, they have to have a clean break and offer a dramatic, bold change," the former House speaker said. "If we nominate somebody who has not done that . . . they're very, very unlikely to win it."

Republicans must break with President Bush and separate themselves from the current state of the political system, Gingrich said, and so far none of the candidates has met that test. But he also made clear that there is now almost no likelihood that he will become a candidate himself, having too little money, too much baggage and too much impatience for a successful campaign.

"I think the odds are very high that I won't run," he said. "The only circumstance where I'd want to undertake a personal candidacy would have to involve the ability to raise enough money to be genuinely competitive in a race where my presumption is Governor [Mitt] Romney can write a 50- or 60-million-dollar check."

Gingrich, like many Republicans, believes Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, and he spoke with some awe of the Clinton machine, remarking on the fact that Bill Clinton was on Oprah Winfrey's show and Hillary Clinton was on Ellen DeGeneres's program on the same day. "As a professional, I am very, very impressed," he said.

Clinton can be defeated, he said, but only with the kind of campaign that none of the potential nominees is running. "None of the Republicans have figured out how to get a routine, repetitive explanation of the future that breaks out of the current situation, and that's their primary challenge," he said.

What Republicans really need now, he suggested, is an American version of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who boldly broke with his party's leader, then-President Jacques Chirac, on the way to victory earlier this year. Gingrich used the Sarkozy example to dismiss the view widely held by Republican strategists that breaking with Bush would jeopardize a candidate's chances in the nominating battle.

"You think the Republican base is proud of New Orleans . . .? The average Republican is pretty smart. The average Republican is sitting out there saying, 'This ain't working.' "

Gingrich offered his views at a media breakfast called to promote the late-September launch of his American Solutions enterprise. The grandly ambitious endeavor, aimed at transforming government, will involve a series of workshops across the country (including the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa) with titles such as the "End of Government . . . As We Know It" and "Rediscovering God in America." Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) will talk in San Diego about immigration, the issue that helped him win a seat in Congress last year. Gingrich's Solutions should have a wide reach: Some workshops will be broadcast on the Dish Network and DirecTV satellite systems as well on the Web.

The launch will be typical Gingrich, with biting analysis of the status quo, provocative ideas, the embrace of technology and bold predictions -- and it clearly is more important to him than running for president.


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