LE BOURGET, France — Newt Gingrich says that he thinks Donald Trump is a “necessary candidate” who reflects a global anti-establishment sentiment, but that he wouldn’t automatically say yes to an eventual proposal to become Trump’s running mate.
In an interview Saturday with The Associated Press, the former House Speaker also said a test should be devised to check the safety credentials of Syrian refugees based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
“It’s a very important way to vet Muslims if you believe in Western civilization,” he said.
Gingrich said that he thinks Trump will make his choice on a running mate late next week – Thursday or Friday – “so they go into the weekend with the new vice presidential candidate as a positive story leading into the convention Monday.”
Gingrich said he has been vetted for the job, but he has yet to decide whether to partner with Trump were he to be asked.
“I think we would want to talk it through and make sure we knew what the job was and what he had in mind because it’s not an automatic yes,” he said.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are other possible Trump running mates.
While Gingrich may be reflecting about his own choice, he said in the interview that Trump’s presidential candidacy is not happenstance.
“I think he’s a necessary candidate,” Gingrich said.
The British vote to leave the EU, and electoral successes in Europe by populists, is part of “a worldwide movement toward really being angry at the establishment, really feeling cheated by the establishment, really feeling that government has failed and I think Trump is part of that worldwide movement,” he said.
Trump is perceived as divisive only “in the sense that the establishment is faced with a popular uprising and the establishment doesn’t want to give up all of its perks and all of its power,” Gingrich said.
“Do I think Donald Trump is perfect? No. Do I think compared to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would be a radically better president? Yes. Hillary Clinton is a nightmare,” he said.
Gingrich was one of numerous former U.S. officials and international dignitaries attending a giant annual gathering of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran outside Paris. The exile opposition group calling for regime change in Iran is based in France.
Gingrich said he counts them as modern Muslims but has less tolerance for some Syrian refugees and other Muslims.
“I think particularly with regard to Syrian refugees it is just plain a lie for the United States government to suggest that they have any ability to vet who these people are,” Gingrich said. Officials don’t know their loyalties, he claimed, and lack intelligence capabilities in Syria to find out.
A test on whether or not a person believes in Sharia law would be revelatory because belief in Islamic law is incompatible with secular law, he said.
He didn’t elaborate on how such a test would be administered.
Gingrich also reiterated remarks made a day earlier on CNN about racism in the United States, saying white parents cannot know the fears of black parents.
“It’s an objective reality that if you are a white parent with teenagers you have dramatically less fear of the police walking up to them than if you’re a black parent with black teenagers,” Gingrich said.
“And until we can have an open conversation both of how do you protect the police but also how do you protect the innocent I think we’re not going to solve this problem,” he said.
The issue came into focus again following fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana and the slayings Thursday of five Dallas police officers guarding a protest march over those shootings.
This report was written by Elaine Ganley of the Associated Press.