MARIETTA, GA. NOV. 9 -- Since achieving the status of speaker-in-waiting late Tuesday night, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has sought to convey soothing and bipartisan reassurances about his political intentions. But in the course of an exhausting day of run-on interviews, the bomb-throwing backbencher who scripted the Republican Party's rise to power kept popping up.

In a mostly conciliatory interview early this morning, for example, Gingrich said that President Clinton would be "very, very dumb" to try to stand in the way of his conservative agenda.

After all, he said, cracking a smile, Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), the presumptive new majority leader in the upper chamber, will "control every {executive} appointment" through the Senate confirmation process and "we {the soon-to-be Republican House} control ... appropriations."

In other interviews, he described the president and First Lady as "counterculture McGovernicks" and the White House as a circle of "left-wing elitists." He outlined an ambitious social agenda beginning with an effort to restore voluntary school prayer by holding a vote on a constitutional amendment by July 1995.

He said every school child from Head Start through college should "encounter" the Declaration of Independence every year. They should wrestle with why Thomas Jefferson used the word "Creator" in the document, he said. "It's because he believed in it."

Gingrich said that he views the era since the mid-1960s as an aberration in American political culture and expects to spend the next 10 to 12 years fighting "the elites" who oppose government efforts to mold the moral character of Americans.

"This, by the way, is the topic the Washington press corps will hate the most," he said. "It's like trying to do perestroika and dealing with reporters who keep saying, 'Don't tell me about private property. How is the bureaucracy going to do this?' "

Until the mid-1960s, he said, "there was an explicit, long-term commitment to creating character. It was the work ethic, it was honesty, right and wrong, it was not harming others, it was being vigilant in the defense of liberty. It was very clear and we taught it."

He said Congress would, as he promised during the campaign, seek to enact the 10 points of his "Contract With America." The platform, signed by more than 300 Republican candidates for the House this fall, included term limits, a balanced-budget amendment, tax credits, a lower capital gains tax, the line-item veto, a tougher death penalty and other provisions.

Gingrich said some House committees would be eliminated, but declined to say how many, and vowed that one of every three House committee jobs would be eliminated. He said all entitlements would be potentially cut in size, except Social Security, which he called inviolate.

Asked about economists' warning that the fiscal elements of the "Contract With America" would balloon the deficit, he dismissed the concerns as problems a balanced-budget amendment would solve.

In a midmorning news conference, Gingrich announced that he would no longer describe Clinton as an enemy of "normal" Americans. He said he will substitute the term "middle-class Americans" explaining that, "I was once told to my shock that the use of the word normal is politically incorrect -- a sign of how far the culture has eroded."

Despite his incendiary rhetoric, Gingrich said he will take substantive steps to be a conciliatory speaker. He said his priorities in his first days would be passage of items from his conservative agenda that Clinton supports, such as the line-item veto. He said he would not start out by waging all-out war on Clinton's achievements.

He vowed, contrary to published reports describing remarks he had made in the campaign, that the Republican House would not use the subpoena power to terrorize the Democratic administration with "witch hunts." He promised, instead, "legitimate" investigations.

Unlike modern-day Democrats, Gingrich said, he will follow the lead of the late Speaker Sam Rayburn (D) and allow members of the minority party to play influential roles. He directed his staff members to invite former Rayburn associates to have lunch with him.

Moreover, said Gingrich, he will help Clinton pass the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) later this month.

In return, Gingrich said he expects Clinton also to be conciliatory in the face of election returns that he likened to "a historical tide, not just a partisan election." He said he plans to use technologies such as computer bulletin boards, cable television and talk radio to spread information abut the workings of Washington "so that every American citizen can have access at the very same moment as the highest-paid Washington lobbyists to information on the government's actions."

He dismissed suggestions that Tuesday's vote was less a mandate for his vision than a vote against Clinton's. Clinton's election and the Republican triumph on Tuesday both expressed a a public cry for change, he said.

"It's a sad comment on the Clinton administration that they had an enormous opportunity to bring about change and they failed," Gingrich said.

Whereupon the speaker-to-be added charitably, "And I don't say that harshly."

In the fall, Republican candidates for the House and the Senate issued separate agendas listing their proposed reforms. Key points:


Congressional reforms to be passed on the first day of the 104th Congress:

* Require laws that apply to the rest of the country to apply to Congress.

* Hire an independent firm to audit Congress for waste, fraud or abuse.

* Cut committees and committee staff.

* Limit committee chairmen's terms.

* Ban proxy voting in committees.

* Open committee meetings to the public.

* Require a three-fifths majority for tax increases.

* Change budgeting rules.

Bills to be sponsored within the first 100 days:

* BUDGET: Balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto.

* CRIME: Sponsor crime bill, which focuses on sentencing; the death penalty; increasing law enforcement, cutting previous crime bill's social spending to fund prison construction.

* WELFARE: Prohibit welfare to minor mothers, cut Aid to Families with Dependent Children, cut welfare spending and require work for welfare.

* FAMILIES/TAXES: Enforce child support, enact tax incentives for adoption, strengthen parents' rights in educating their children, tighten child pornography laws, enact elder-care and $500-per-child tax credits, and repeal marriage tax penalty.

* DEFENSE: Prohibit U.N. command of U.S. troops, and increase defense spending, particularly on antimissile defenses.

* SENIORS: Raise Social Security earnings limit; repeal tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance.

* BUSINESS: Enact small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation.

* TORT REFORM: Limit punitive damages and reform product liability laws.

* TERM LIMITS: Support vote on term limits.


"Legislative priorities" include:

* BUDGET: Enact balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

* CRIME: Prevent crime without punishment, with mandatory prison sentences, putting prisoners to work and building less resort-like prisons.

* WELFARE/JOBS/TAXES/BUSINESS: Create work-based welfare, reward savings with IRAs, reduce capital gains tax and allow taxes on assets to be indexed for inflation.

* FAMILIES/TAXES: Double income tax exemption for children.

* DEFENSE: Reverse defense cuts and prevent future ones.

* HEALTH: Reform health care by expanding consumer choices, promoting competition, reforming medical liability and reducing bureaucracy.

* SENIORS: Repeal tax increase on Social Security and repeal reduced benefits for elderly who work.

SOURCE: Republican National Committee