- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

Newt Gingrich, one of the architects of the 1994 Contract With America that ushered in the current Republican domination of politics, is back with a new contract for the next generation — and it looks a lot like a presidential platform.

“In 1994, we were standing on Ronald Reagan’s shoulders, and we were essentially completing a job he had described for 25 years. Now our generation has to look out and decide what are the jobs for the next 25 years,” he said in a telephone interview as he promotes his new book, “Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract With America,” which was released yesterday.

In fact, Mr. Gingrich, who over the weekend told interviewers that he is not ruling out a 2008 run for president and who specifically included Iowa and New Hampshire in his book tour, said yesterday that he is being coy on running for president for a reason.

The point, he said, is to get voters and politicians to focus on his ideas, and if someone comes along to champion what he says, he won’t need to run.

“I’m interested in people taking up the ideas and talking about the ideas,” said the former congressman from Georgia, who served two terms as speaker of the House. “I don’t want to go beyond that at the moment. I want to stay focused on: Are these the right solutions to America?”

He puts fighting terrorism at the very front of his list of challenges, says the United States is now involved in “a civil war within Islam” and praises President Bush for believing that the solution is promoting democracy and prosperity in the Middle East. But he criticizes Mr. Bush for putting an American administrator in charge of Iraq rather than installing an Iraqi government in 2003.

After terrorism, his list of priorities include reforming Social Security, in which he praises Mr. Bush’s efforts, and renewing God’s role in public life.

Although religion was absent from the 1994 Contract, Mr. Gingrich focuses heavily on God and public policy in this book, citing the Newdow decision, in which two federal appellate judges ruled that public school students should not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as a watershed moment for the country.

The Supreme Court later threw out the case on a technicality.

Mr. Gingrich said those two judges should be tossed out.

“If 91 percent of the American people believe they should have the right to say, ‘One nation under God,’ then frankly I advocate abolishing the two judgeships,” he said. “Those two judges by definition don’t understand America, and therefore, why should we have them as federal judges?”

In one appendix, he lists the number of places in public buildings in Washington with references to God as evidence “about America’s indebtedness to and reliance on the Creator from whom all our rights come.”

“It seems to me that those of us who believe we are endowed by our Creator have an obligation to fight back,” he said.

As for Congress and his former colleagues, he says the two chambers must move toward each other’s style of operation.

“The Senate needs to tighten up; the House needs to loosen up,” he said, calling the Senate “dysfunctional,” but adding that the House Republican leaders who followed him have become too intent on winning every fight.

“I think the House needs to allow more dissent, more amendments, more opportunity for the leadership to risk losing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s healthy in the House to be purely a binary system of the majority and the minority.”

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