Gingrich, Sounding Like a Candidate at ASNE, Predicts Strong Hillary Run in '08

By: Andrew Ackerman Former Speaker of the House Newt Gringrich offered praise for a 2008 presidential campaign by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) at a speech this afternoon to about 200 editors at the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He characterized Clinton as the de facto Democratic nominee and warned that Republicans would have a difficult time beating her, citing the Clinton family's ability to win six consecutive elections between 1980 and 2000.

"Now just as someone who tries to handicap how these things go, [Hillary's] very formidable," Gingrich said. "She has the smartest American politician as her advisor ... and we will lose unless we come up with better ideas, because they are as a couple that good tactically."

Gingrich did not address rumored presidential aspirations of his own, and, though this speech before a group of newspaper editors didn't address any newspaper or media issues, it seemed like the stump speech of a candidate with a platform -- a list of the five most pressing problems facing America. He plans to travel next week to New Hampshire, site of the first primary and a frequent stopover for prospective candidates.

"The challenges today are at least as great as ... when Ronald Reagan became president," Gringrich said. "Literally, we could face the survival of our civilization if terrorists get biological and nuclear weapons."

He said the state of education was deplorable, arguing that the shortage of students educated in math and science was "a far greater crisis than Iraq or Afghanistan." He argued that the United States must do more to maintain a competitive edge against China and India, and to more intelligently address immigration issues and explosive healthcare costs.

"If you don't fix Medicaid and Medicare, you cannot balance the federal budget," he warned.

Gingrich also praised House Major Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), characterizing him as the "most effective whip in modern times" and "remarkably" effective at supporting President Bush's programs. He challenged the validity of the ethics complaints against DeLay, and suggested that the charges were frivolous.

"When he thinks it's appropriate, DeLay has to brief the country on his case," Gingrich said. "DeLay is going to have to reach out to prove to the country that he is cooperating with the inquiry and that he has a reasonable case to make."


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