In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich discussed his forthcoming “21st Century Contract with America.”
Tuesday marked the 17th anniversary of the unveiling of the original Contract With America on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Gingrich promises his new version “is much more comprehensive than the one we did in 1994.”
Gingrich plans to release the broad framework for his new contract in Iowa later this week, but the interesting thing is that it won’t be finished for at least a year.
In 1994, “we had 700 pages of legislative material behind the contract,” he said. “I will try to have us to that point by September 27, 2012, so you could have a complete, detailed contract at this point.”
He explained that as a presidential candidate he cannot “negotiate with [Speaker John] Boehner and [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell” — and get them to buy in at this point, because “it is going to take the prestige of becoming the nominee with a contract to get them to decide that this is a direction.”
Moreover, he added, unlike 1994, people “are so fed up with the way the stimulus is written in secret, so fed up with Obamacare being written in secret, Nancy Pelosi’s line about how you have to pass it to see what’s in it, [that] I don’t think they want something jammed down their throat.”
Furthermore, Gingrich said some of the ideas in the new contract “are so new and so different we have not yet developed the ideas on how to do it.”
“I would say in particular the section on brain science, which will be extraordinary as it is flushed out over the next few months,” he continued.
This isn’t the first time Gingrich has unveiled a “21st Century Contract with America.” It’s the subtitle of his 2005 book “Winning The Future,” and the subject of a 2010 Newsmax article. So was this just a clever repackaging of an old idea?
“The Newsmax article,” Gingrich explained, “was actually written as advice to House Republicans on how to develop a contract. It’s actually, if you understand what I’m doing, a pretty good basic primer on how to do this,” he said.
The new contract, said Gingrich, will be based on four “pillars”: New legislation similar to what was proposed in 1994, 50 to 200 executive orders to be signed within hours of the 2013 presidential inauguration, a new system of training presidential appointees, and modernization of government. Gingrich aspires to reach out to “activist leaders” to help implement and design the program.
The new legislation and executive orders would focus primarily on creating jobs, balancing the budget and judicial reform to stop “the continued elitist assault on American culture,” Gingrich said.
Explaining the evolution of his ideas, Gingrich remarked, “I’ve gone from being critical of the judges to advocating a Jeffersonian response, which in some cases would actually abolish the judgeships.”
Gingrich also talked about the bumpy start to his presidential campaign, which at one point saw the majority of his political consultants resign en masse.
“It is my fault, not theirs,” he said. “It had never occurred to me that what I wanted to do was so fundamentally different from everything they were used to. And that is a core problem.”
The next phase of his presidential campaign, he said, “will be based on a lifetime of studying and thinking about” governing and not “something cobbled together by three consultants with seven talking points.”
After his impressive performance in recent debates, Gingrich has seen his candidacy begin to rise in the polls. Whether he can build on that momentum is still an open question, but Gingrich believes he has a record that will separate him from the rest of the pack.
“I mean, the really big difference between me and all the other candidates is the scale of change that I am advocating and the notion of actually getting it done,” he said. “If you’re under 41 years of age I am the only person in your lifetime who has led an effort to balance the federal budget in a bipartisan way,” he added.