BY FREDA MIKLIN
Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999, after the Republicans gained the majority in the House during the midterm election of President Bill Clinton’s first four-year term. He remains active in politics and often cites his close relationship with former President Trump.
On January 26, Gingrich sat down for an interview with Michael Duffy, Opinions Editor at Large at the Washington Post.
Asked what can be done about the increasing number of mass shootings in our country, Gingrich named mental health and drug addiction, including “the strength of the new marijuana” and “the rise of fentanyl” as leading to high levels of hostility and anger that “manifest themselves in ways that are horrifying.” He tied gun violence to “the degree to which we have tolerated destructive, deviant behavior.” Asked if the problem of gun violence had anything to do with gun laws, Gingrich said no. “In fact,” he added, “A lot of the states that have concealed-carry or open-carry have a lot less violence.”
Pointing to Gingrich’s earlier role as a history professor, Duffy asked, “If you were in front of a class today, how would you explain January 6th to your students?” The former Speaker responded, “I would say that the Speaker of the House (U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi), who had an obligation to protect the Congress and the Capital, refused to follow the intelligence leads, refused to call in the National Guard, and refused to beef up the police force. I would say a riot occurred and everybody who was involved in the riot should be punished, but to go from there to some absurd overclaim, such as the January 6th Committee did, is an absurdity.”
The former Speaker criticized “the way the Americans and the western Europeans have allowed Ukrainians to die while we mess around, dribbling out weapons to them.” He said the U.S. and Europe should “do whatever it takes to allow the Ukrainians to win.”
Gingrich expects the 2024 presidential election to be a rematch of the 2020 presidential election—President Joe Biden versus former President Donald Trump. According to Gingrich, “When President Trump is disciplined and focused, he’s one of the most formidable politicians in American history…Had the establishment not gone all out to destroy him in 2020, he probably would have won in 2020.”
Regarding whether President Biden, at the age of 80, is too old to run for a second term, Gingrich offered, “I don’t think Biden is nearly as senile as he pretends…I wrote a piece, saying, ‘Don’t underestimate him’…He had a very effective two years.”
When Duffy asked Gingrich how he thought “the (U.S. Rep.) George Santos saga will end,” Gingrich’s response was, “I think we should hold George Santos to the same level of honesty as Joe Biden…Give me a list of the 700 or 800 times that Joe Biden has lied. Let’s look at the number of times Santos has lied. If Biden agrees to resign because he’s a liar, then we’ll talk to Santos.”
Gingrich was a key player in two shutdowns of the federal government totaling 26 days that occurred between November 1995 and January 1996 when then-President Clinton and the Republican Congress were unable to agree on a budget. He told Duffy that the threat of a government shutdown was an effective way to force budget cuts and that his efforts led to the passage of a balanced budget. Asked what he would recommend be cut from the current budget, Gingrich named $150 billion in unobligated COVID-19 emergency funds as a good example.
On how Gingrich was able to work with President Clinton to get a balanced budget, Gingrich told Duffy that he met with Clinton for 35 days and, “It was pleasant…Bill Clinton was actually a very pleasant guy to deal with…We would have good conversations. We worked our way through issues. We got a lot done together.”
Asked “how the Republican party has changed since you were Speaker,” Gingrich replied, “It’s more populist. It’s more nationalist. It’s angrier at Washington…”