On a conference call with bloggers today, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich offered advice to congressional Republicans who are currently in the middle of debt limit negotiations, saying it was their “moment to stand up to Obama.”
“The Republican House better stop talking to Obama and start passing legislation,” said Gingrich. “Legislative bodies do better when they act.”
The former speaker of the House praised the proposed balanced budget amendment and implied that momentum is on the side of Republicans. “I think there will be a number of Democrats who will lose reelection if they vote against a balanced budget amendment,” Gingrich said. But, he clarified, Republicans shouldn’t make their vote on a debt ceiling increase conditional on the amendment’s passage. “I think to make it the only litmus test for raising the debt ceiling is dangerous,” he said.
Gingrich, credited with building the Republican majority that took control of the House of Representatives after 1994, likened the current debate over the debt ceiling with the fights in the mid-1990s between the House GOP and President Clinton. That budget conflict led to two government shutdowns, one in 1995 and the other in 1996.
“I do not believe we [House Republicans] would have won in ’96 if we had caved,” Gingrich said. He said the GOP lost the presidential election that year partly because Clinton moved toward their agenda, and partly because their nominee, Bob Dole, wasn’t able to “stand up” to Clinton. In 2012, Gingrich said, Republicans need to nominate someone who is willing to confront Obama.
“He’s not Bill Clinton,” Gingrich said. “This is the most radical president in our history.”