Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned current and former lawmakers of a “population in turmoil” this election cycle, aggravated that Republicans have failed to offer a positive alternative to President Obama’s agenda.
“There’s a poll out today that when asked, ‘do you think most members of Congress deserve reelection,’ it is 87-5,” Gingrich said Wednesday evening. “Now that frightens me. That tells me nobody here should assume we understand what’s going to happen on election day because you have a population in turmoil. They don’t like anybody and they have good sound reasons for it, in my judgment.”
Gingrich made the remarks at a reunion of members of the class of Republicans who took office in 1994. Senator Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), who moderated the event, assured attendees that they could speak freely because there were no reporters in the room; the media advisory said the event was on the record.
The former speaker praised the 1994 class for running on a positive agenda during their campaigns.
“This is a huge mistake this year, by the way,” Gingrich said. “The fact that we do not have positive themes and positive issues is going to cost us seats this fall because moderates and independents aren’t going to turn out. It’s an enormous mistake.”
One attendee followed up by asking Gingrich what agenda Republicans should adopt.
“I don’t actually care what it is, for the next seven weeks, as long as it exists,” Gingrich replied. “Boehner is giving a speech tomorrow which is going to be very, very good . . . It outlines five major areas of reform. If they can figure out a way to get folks to say that’s good — they’re all solid, they’re all intelligent. You just have to sound like you’re more than anti-Obama and you’re more than some pathetically narrow, negative politician whose primary role in life is to raise money for your consultant to buy attack ads. It is pathetic what we’re doing around the country and it’s turning people off.”
Although Gingrich praised the proposals that House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) will unveil, he was clearly frustrated with decisions that have been already been made.
“The Keystone pipeline — the fact that we couldn’t get the House and Senate to get together and say jointly, we will pass the Keystone pipeline in the first three months, I think is a total lack of leadership and profoundly wrong.”
Notwithstanding his uncertainty about the fall elections, Gingrich said he still thinks the odds are very much in favor of Republicans.
“I think the Democrats have one big advantage this fall, which is money,” he told National Review Online after the reunion. “The country has no positive issues to rally around, and in that sense I think Republicans have not had as positive a view. Now, that may change starting with Boehner’s speech tomorrow, which I think is a very serious and a very good speech; but, they’re playing catchup.”
“I think that the odds are pretty high that the Republicans — if I had to guess, we’ll be between 53 and 55 senators and we’ll be +12 or more in the House and we’ll pick up some governors and a number of state legislators, so, it’ll end up being a pretty good year.”
He allowed that the outcome is “still in some ways undecided” because of the Democratic money advantage.
“If you watch what’s happening to Braley in Iowa, it’s a similar kind of thing,” Gingrich said, referring to Representative Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa).
“For awhile, he was competitive, there’s a six-point gap today; we’ll see where he is next week. As long as they can keep pouring enough cash in, they’ll keep it close,” he continued, before quoting an unnamed Republican’s analysis.
“This is a fight between environment and cash,” Gingrich said. “If cash can win, the Democrats will do okay. If environment wins, they’ll do poorly.”