NEWT'S CONVENTION VIEWS
AUGUST 12, 1996
Newt Gingrich believes that the San Diego convention is putting across the Republican face that he would like America to see. Why then is he so absent from it? Margaret Warner gets the answers from America's controversial Speaker of the House.
A RealAudio version of this Newsmaker interview with Speaker Gingrich is available.
Complete NewsHour coverage of the 1996 Primary and Election campaigns.
JIM LEHRER: We begin with some words from another most famous Republican, who is in our convention sky box now with Margaret Warner.
MARGARET WARNER: And that famous Republican is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Welcome, Mr. Speaker.
NEWT GINGRICH, Speaker of the House: Good to be here.
MARGARET WARNER: What image to do you think this convention is now--we're two hours into it--projecting to the viewer at home?
REP. NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I hope we're projecting that we're very inclusive party, though, when you have Christie Todd Whitman, who's pro-choice from New Jersey, and you have George W. Bush who's pro-life from Texas and they are the co-chairs, that we are really reaching out across the country and saying that if you're interested in tax cuts and smaller government and more economic growth, and then there's a place in the Republican Party for you, and there were a very broad party committed to really helping the American family.
MARGARET WARNER: Now the lasting image or the last image that viewers are going to see, however, is that of Colin Powell, a man who hasn't ever run for anything, who until three months ago wasn't even a Republican, and he doesn't agree with a lot of things that you wanted to do, you and your Republican Congress. Does that bother you?
REP. NEWT GINGRICH: No. Colin's a very good personal friend, and we've worked on a lot of projects together, and I think he's in the tradition of, you know, Douglas MacArthur and Eisenhower before him who was a candidate. He's a military hero of great renown who people really look up to. He's best selling author of a wonderful memoir, and I think that he's a figure that people can look at and say he makes you proud to be an American, so I think he's going to be a very positive end for the evening.
MARGARET WARNER: Dole campaign officials do say that partly this convention is designed to undo the damage done to the Republican image by you and the Republican Congress which fairly or unfairly the voters seem to see as extreme. You've heard all the words. Do you think that's true, and does it make you feel repudiated at all?
REP. NEWT GINGRICH: Look, I'm very close to Bob Dole. He was, after all, the Senate Majority Leader for most of this Congress. He asked Susan Molinari from the House Republicans to be the keynote speaker. He asked Henry Hyde of the House Republicans to be the chairman of the Platform Committee. And we have a very close working relationship. I'm the permanent chairman of the convention, but the fact is that this is a broad exciting party committed to cutting taxes and economic growth. And when you picked Jack Kemp, who used to serve in the House, now will be the vice presidential nominee to Bob Dole, who served in the House and the Senate, I think this is pretty clearly a party that's one team and we're a team committed to reducing government and lowering taxes, and I suspect frankly if the Democrats could have gotten Colin Powell to speak at their convention, they would have been thrilled, and if they could get our major economic plank, they'd be even more thrilled.
MARGARET WARNER: You mentioned Kemp but we had a little discussion earlier where we had a pro-choice Republican woman, and we had Pat Robertson, and they were both agreeing that Kemp was fabulous. Now how do you explain that?
REP. NEWT GINGRICH: Jack Kemp is I think the most unifying figure in American politics since Ronald Reagan. Kemp's passion for helping the poor, his passion for the inner city as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, his commitment to reaching out to every American who needs help and the depth of his belief of lowering taxes and creating economic growth was so great that I think Jack is a unique figure, and I, frankly, I've known Jack for years. I am stunned at how passionately this party is excited by Jack's being the nominee, and I think that Bob Dole absolutely hit the ball out of the park, to use a baseball, not a football metaphor.
MARGARET WARNER: I'm going to have to end it there. Jim.