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The Newt watch: an update

July 21, 2007 |  5:18 am

With the Republican presidential race in such an unsettled state, the intriguing figure of Newt Gingrich continues to lurk on the sidelines, heightening his profile every now and then in ways that keep his name in the mix.

Yesterday, he told the N.Y. Post, "I don't get from anybody on our side a sense of mission." Then the former speaker showed up over at CBS.com. On a possible Gingrich campaign: "It's perfectly reasonable to wait around for a while and see what happens."

On political campaigns today: "You know, Lincoln and Douglas debated seven times for three hours each. Lincoln went to Cooper Union and gave a two-hour, 7,300-word speech. Nowadays we have auditions. We do not have debates. Ten or eleven people looking like they're trying out for 'American Idol,' standing around patiently while a TV personality asks them an inane question and then gives them 30 seconds to give an inane answer."

On his own hard-shelled image: "The most common reaction I get from people, if they actually hear me give an entire speech, is they are amazed at the difference between the media image and the person I am in person. And I will let you decide whether that is because I am two different people, or that is because the media image is wrong."

On Hillary Clinton: "I think that she is, clearly, formidable, hard-working and intelligent. I think she is also way too liberal and she and I could have a lot of fun debating because we would be on very different sides."

As we've noted before, Gingrich's current main focus is organizing "American Solutions for Winning the Future," a group he formed that plans a big splash in late September. That's when the organization...

will host a series of workshops across the nation that, according to its website, aim to "help create a new wave of transformational change which will move government into the 21st century, strengthen and revitalize our core values, and help protect America against enemies."

On Monday, as a prelude, Gingrich and others in the group will conduct a six-hour briefing in Washington, a gathering that can be viewed live or on demand via a webcast. The session, again according to the American Solutions website, is supposed to cover "the key principles and concepts for transforming government from the world that fails into the world that works."

Gingrich has said he will make the call about running for president after the autumn workshops; as the above quotes illustrate, he's still thinking big since his days as the architect of the "Republican Revolution" and the "Contract with America."

Nor is there any indication he's trimming his sails in other ways. He recently spoke at a fundraising dinner for the Republican Party of Virginia, and the rhetoric soared. “We need to rip apart every single government bureaucracy,” he said. “We’ve replaced government for the people with government for the government."

Strong words, similar to what we used to hear when he was House speaker. We remember how he and his compatriots targeted various agencies for extinction, including what became their favorite whipping boy, the National Endowment for the Arts.

Last we checked, the NEA was still chugging along.

-- Don Frederick

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