Gingrich Handicaps GOP Presidential Race

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday threw some weight behind 2008 Republican presidential frontrunner Rudy Giuliani even though Gingrich may himself decide to enter the race in September.

Citing his "extraordinary accomplishments" as New York City mayor, Gingrich praised Giuliani for bringing a new approach to an inefficient government. Gingrich said this needs to happen on a much larger scale across the nation.

The speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was another in a series introducing the Republican politician's efforts to spark vast government reform, dubbed "American Solutions for Winning the Future."

The effort will include an AEI seminar in July and two Internet-based workshops in September before Gingrich will announce his decision on whether to run for president.

"Only a new, historic transformational movement can create the dialogue needed, create the solutions that are required, and educate and arouse the American people so they impose these changes on politics and government despite the hostility and resistance of entrenched interests," Gingrich said.

He outlined three policy transformations he believes need to occur: a return to the "core beliefs of the overwhelming majority of Americans," including public displays of religion and making English the official language; promoting efficient market-based solutions instead of bureaucracies; and recognizing national security dangers facing the country.

The former House speaker has been coy about his presidential ambitions. In some interviews and speeches, Gingrich has suggested that he will join the race, while in others he has characterized his candidacy as unlikely.

"If there's a real genuine vacuum, we may feel compelled to run," Gingrich said, referring to himself and wife Callista. "If there are people who have filled the vacuum and are campaigning on solutions of appropriate scale, we'll be happy to keep giving them ideas."

Gingrich said his plan for "winning the future" is "vastly more important than anything I'd accomplish, at least in the short run, if I were a candidate." It would also take longer to accomplish than a two-term presidency, he added, saying that he hopes to convince all the presidential candidates to adopt his ideas.

Among those in his own party, Gingrich said there are "three or four candidates who could easily fill this vacuum and could adopt these ideas."

Gingrich commended Giuliani's use of computer statistics to reform bureaucracies in New York City.

He also praised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's handling of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. And Gingrich observed that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson - who has yet to make a formal candidacy announcement - "would be very formidable."

Arizona Sen. John McCain "has the greatest challenge" among the Republicans, Gingrich said. He cited among difficulties McCain will face his work in passing campaign finance reform and his support for the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform proposals, which many conservatives view as an amnesty program.

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