The 2010 midterm elections could be more important historically than the Republican takeover of Congress 16 years ago, said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who led the party’s sweep into power in 1994.
“It’s bigger than 1994,” Gingrich told The Daily Caller shortly after it was projected that the GOP would assume a majority in the House late Tuesday night. “It’s a more decisive repudiation. I think the total number of seats will be bigger. I think the governorships are bigger. I think the state legislature, things like losing North Carolina for the first time since 1898. That has to be seen as historic.”
Republicans won 54 seats in the 1994 election, a record the party is projected to break after all votes are counted.
Gingrich, who is rumored to be considering a run for the White House against President Obama in 2012, led the movement that resulted in a massive congressional Republican takeover under President Clinton when the party assumed control of both chambers of Congress.
Clinton responded by moderating his policies, a strategy that many political observers agree helped guarantee his presidency for a second term. During Gingrich’s time as Speaker, Clinton and the Republican majority balanced the federal budget, passed a massive welfare overhaul bill and passed on a budget surplus to President Bush in 2001.
Gingrich said that despite the gains this year, he thinks the incoming class in 2011 will not have as strong an impact as the Congress he presided over in from 1995 to 1999.
“I don’t know that this Congress will have more impact than we did,” he said. “But it can have a significant impact.”
Much of it will determine, he added, on whether Obama is willing to move more to the center and work with the new Republican House majority, calling it the “biggest decision of his presidency.”
“He’s got to make a major decision,” Gingrich said of Obama. “Does he want to listen to the American people who have now had a chance to vote, who have now sent up a pretty clear signal or does he want to fight to defend his radical policies after the American people have repudiated them?”