Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gingrich Sets the Record Straight

I understand, sort of - it's hard for Washington reporters to understand the concept of ideas outside the context of a political campaign. Nina Easton, Fortune's Washington bureau chief, sat down with Newt Gingrich for an interview set to appear in the next issue of Fortune magazine.

On the question of whether or not Newt was running for president in 2008, he responds:

"I'm going to tell you something, and whether or not it's plausible given the world you come out of is your problem," he tells Fortune. "I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
This has always been the problem reporters have had with Gingrich. While he can run with the best of them - remember the Republican Revolution of 1994 - he is at his best when trying to articulate his vision and direction for America.

Traditionally, candidates announce that they are running, or exploring a run, for the White House before building up a platform of ideas tailored for 30 second TV spots. Newt explains the difference between himself and the others:
"Nice people," Gingrich says of his GOP competitors. "But we're not in the same business. They're running for president. I'm running to change the country."
It is exactly that approach that has been missing in the Republican Party over the last several years.

Gingrich is set to launch "American Solutions for Winning the Future" in December. Expect it to be a new Contract on a grand scale. While Gingrich can certainly envision the Presidency as part of this grand initiative, it's the ideas that matter most:
"There are 3,300 counties, 17,000 elected school boards, 60,000 cities and towns, 14,000 state legislators, 50 governors and 535 elected federal legislators," Gingrich says. "My hope is to create a wave that sweeps through that entire system, and in a context that obviously includes the presidency." Even if he's not the nominee, Gingrich says, he plans to throw the weight of what he's built behind a "winning-the-future presidential candidate."
Gingrich envisions the possibility of his movement sweeping through the country much like a set of ideas articulated by Lincoln in 1860:
"He turns it into a 7,300-word speech - gives it once in New York, once in Rhode Island, once in Massachusetts, once in New Hampshire. Then he goes home. I was struck by the sheer courage of the self-definitional moment that said, 'We are in real trouble, we need real leadership, and if that's who you think we need, here's my speech'."
Easton ends her article with this comment from Dick Armey - and who would know better:
"He's never been a parochial member of Congress. He has big ideas, and has had them for a long time. He's not going to appear to have just discovered them for the purposes of an election. And that's a good place to be for an '08 candidate."
Don't be surprised if a Draft Newt movement begins early next year. And don't surprised if the Sentinel is right in the middle of it.

If you want an idea of what might be part of Gingrich's grand initiative, read (if you haven't already) his "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America."

No comments: