WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, said he will “never forgive” 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney for the “depth of dishonesty” of his presidential primary campaign.
Gingrich, an early Donald Trump surrogate, also predicted that a “bipartisan Trump majority” would emerge when President-elect Trump wants Congress to pass a massive infrastructure bill.
During a Washington Post 2012 Live event Dec. 16, Gingrich was asked why a Washington “outsider” was able to win the presidency in 2016 but not in 2012.
“Well, because Trump combined my ability as a debater with Romney’s ability to have money. If I had Romney’s money, I would have crushed Romney. I mean he outspent me by some amazing number in Florida. Most of it, by the way, lies. I was one of Reagan’s closest allies so Romney runs a ‘Newt was against Reagan’ ad,” Gingrich said. “For those of you who are not quite getting the message, I will never forgive Romney for the depth of dishonesty in his campaign.”
Gingrich said he did not sense Trump “beginning to break loose” in the 2016 presidential race until the Fox News GOP primary debate in August 2015.
Gingrich was asked if he thinks Trump will change Washington as president or if Washington will change Trump.
“Probably sometime in February, the cabinet that he’s assembling, which is all made up of winners, it’s probably the most intensely success-oriented group assembled in one cabinet in modern times. Sometime probably in February they will get together for a meeting and realize that Washington does not accept the results of the election,” he predicted.
Gingrich added that Trump and his team would eventually have to decide if they are going to break through the federal bureaucracy or “accommodate the system that is already here” in Washington without upsetting too many people.
When asked if he thinks Trump would decide to break through or not, Gingrich encouraged the audience to watch a clip of Trump doing various jobs at a hotel such a butler and waiter.
“He really is a character and he’s really in character and I think he thinks that schmoozing generally works better than attacking, but he’s equally cheerful – he just needs to know which one you want,” he said.
As an example of a difficult situation that is facing Trump, Gingrich said Congress and the White House would have to reform the nation’s civil service laws in order to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“You can’t change the civil service laws within the normal framework of Washington so you have to do what Scott Walker did and break out of the normal framework, which in his case led to 100,000 people demonstrating, six months of occupation of the capitol and death threats against he and his wife – it’s a fairly contentious moment – or you say we will fix it as well as we can without really making anyone unhappy,” he said.
Gingrich defined Trump as a team builder who won’t take a hands-off approach to the oversight of federal agencies. He predicted that Trump might see a problem at a particular agency highlighted in a news article, which would prompt a personal phone call to the head of that department to get the problem addressed.
“I think Trump has a remarkable intuitive ability to absorb almost by osmosis. This is a guy who is listening to you, thinking about his next meeting and watching television simultaneously and doing it very, very well,” he said.
Gingrich said Trump is prepared to work with Congress after dealing with the New York City Department of Planning and other local government officials as a developer.
“They’re worse than Congress. If you wanted to build something in New York they were worse than Congress,” he said. “You couldn’t bring any pressure to New York planning. That’s why reading The Art of The Deal and The Art of the Comeback is helpful – you suddenly realize this guy has been dealing with government his whole life.”
Gingrich continued, “He tries to do the West Side project and spends a decade trying to figure out how to get it to work because government is so totally screwed up. I mean, New York City government is a great training ground for dealing with totally screwed-up institutions.”
Gingrich emphasized that Trump is aware he needs Congress to do anything “big.”
“In some ways, sure. It’s easier to manage because it’s one city and even as screwed up as it is, you can sooner or later work your way through it,” he said. “Trump thoroughly understands that he can’t get anything big done unless he can get the House and the Senate to go with him.”
Gingrich explained how he foresees Trump garnering bipartisan support in Congress for a $1 trillion infrastructure package. Some Republicans have already said such a bill would need to be paid for.
“If Trump wanders in and says, ‘my No. 1 goal is to create jobs; my first thing is a real infrastructure bill and I know enough, unlike Obama, that I know the difference between shovel-ready and not shovel-ready, and wouldn’t you like to have something really good for your districts?’ Well, 40 Freedom Caucus members might say, ‘I don’t really care,’” Gingrich said.
“But 90 Democrats are going to say, ‘Oh, work together, help America, do the right thing for America, create jobs, can I ride on the plane?’ You take them with you to go look at the sites,” he added. “You know, six months later, I think what you will see emerge is a bipartisan Trump majority, which will actually shake some of the more conservative Republicans and some of the more partisan Republicans.”