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tv   After Words Craig Shirley Citizen Newt  CSPAN  October 22, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT

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hear a report on new technologies how to influence our world. news back in new york at barnes & noble, and joy behar's thoughts on president trump and we'll cover a book release party for ken walsh. ...
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>> up next on booktv "after words" historian richard discusses polite than political career of newt gingrich. he's interviewed by former virginia congressman tom davis. >> host: thanks for joining us. again i former congressman tom davis. the book is "citizen newt" by craig shirley, an award-winning author. he did a reagan biography, and this book on newt gingrich is as good as i've seen. i enjoyed the book. it's an easy read. you learn a lot not just about newt but about the history and the times i think we tend to forget. memories are short and politics. >> guest: they sure are. >> host: you to talk about allf
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his ideas and filling baskets full of newt. we used to have saying that there was a file cabinet with four drawers. the first drawer, his ideas, the second drawer, his ideas and the fourth drawer his good ideas. tell us a little bit -- trenchard i think i was a running joke. >> host: it was the idea guy. >> guest: the contract, so much of what he introduced to the republican party which had not been a part of the organization of the party before like corruption which was not a permanent part of the republican party. also permanent offense was also had not been a permanent fixture of the republican party before that. those are tactical things he introduced but also the ideas that you were there. >> host: you were part of the reagan revolution turkey of written widely on that. was he an extension of that? >> guest: most certainly.
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as you remember the contract with america was very much for trade as reagan principles. in many ways the contract with reference on ronald reagan versus bill clinton. everybody was confident in that context that reagan would be -- beat clinton precisely and results prove that. >> host: the media portrays gingrich's one way but you offer a reading of how to get into politics. he wanted to replace the people who were in power. >> guest: yes. >> host: tell us about his first race. it was not a a conventionally conservative race by any means. >> guest: he was a conservative. he called himself a a conservae but he wasn't really although he wrote in 1974, one of the first articles, for the baltimore sun, when a first articles advocating governor reagan challenge incumbent president gerald ford in the 76 primaries.
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which was vision at the time to do so we thought he was going to get annoyed thought he had a chance at beating gerald ford in the primaries. he came within an eyelash and a whisker of defeating ford in kansas city in 76. he was already thinking about politics, thinking about the future politics and thinking about revolutionary politics. he runs in 74 in the of watergate when republicans after nixon resigns after agnew resigned there before as the republicans got wiped out across the country. 45 house seats, governorships, everything just up and down the voting booth. and he came within 6000 votes of defeating a long-term incumbent who was a google seven democrat, good old boy down in georgia. it was quite remarkable because
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he was outspent. flint had more name id, had more deeper roots in the district. gingrich was a carpetbagger. he grew up in harrisburg and would to school in new orleans. been teaching at west georgia college for a time but he had its roots in georgia politics were pretty shallow at the time 1974. >> host: the district had part of suburban atlanta and it had the rural parts. >> guest: stretched all the way to the alabama border. i think with six counties of the time. yet the balance, and atlanta, the hartsfield airport was in his districts we had to consider that as far as his pitch. he had urban white-collar business interest and then very, very rural blue-collar agricultural interest as well. >> host: george was essentially a one-party state here they had never had a republican governor. had not had a republican senator after that time. they had a couple couple of houses in the suburban north atlanta suburbs. flint kind of a good old boy.
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i would guess pretty strong rural parts of the district. >> guest: he was strong in washington. he played his cards well. he had deep roots. his constituent service was very good but also played the game in washington. he looked like he was there for as long as he wanted to be different in fact, he was until he resigned, and kill three announced his 70. >> host: a new nomination problem for newt at that point? >> guest: he wasn't challenged at 74. he was challenged and 766 and 70 but it was token opposition and he pretty much wiped out the challenger in the primaries. >> host: tell us how did he come to win the seat that it never voted for a republican for? >> guest: having run twice before he had pretty good established name id by 1970 -- [inaudible conversations]
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loses. >> guest: he loses by 6000 votes out of 103,000 cast. two years later, jimmy carter the popular former governor of georgia is the democratic nominee, and again he carries flint across the finish line because carter carried georgia that your by huge -- i think he was 70-30, enormous victory for carter in 76. of course newt's fight of that uphill fight as well. and again he loses just by about 6000 votes out of 145,000 cast. this is got to be maddening, first watergate stops him from winning and then the nomination of a popular georgia governor jimmy carter stops him from winning. it we just drive anybody bonkers. finally he gets a a clean shott in 78. flint new seven it was going to be problematic for him.
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he had been in congress since dwight eisenhower had been in the white house, and we finally resigned and the democrats nominate a popular state senator who runs a good campaign but gingrich, 70 is somewhat a a republican year but not an overwhelming republican year, is that the republicans picked up i think three seats in the house and about 15 or 20, three seats in the senate and about 15 or 20 in the house in 78. one of those was newt gingrich. >> host: flint retires because he's had to close races and he wants to go out a winner. >> guest: he had run, when republicans did have canned he was usually winning 85-15. gingrich was a first serious challenge he ever had. >> host: there were no republican legislators on a local level as you look at it.
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talk to me about his strategy. i was surprised reading this book yet black endorsements. he had a black newspaper, parts of labor within, groups that later on we think he was anathema to them. tell us about the coalition. >> guest: jack flint was democrat but he was jim crow. for instance, there was a local congressman at the time named andy young who later went on to be carter's ambassador to u.n. and prominent leader in the black community. jack flint wouldn't sit down, remember the same georgia delegation -- adjoining district. jack flint wouldn't sit at the same table and have breakfast with henry young. meanwhile, gingrich has the support of the atlanta daily were witches the black-owned daily newspaper and he's meeting with him all the time. he's campaigning in black district that is campaign in the
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churches. he has widespread support among the black community in georgia in the 1970. >> something nobody thought a republican could possibly do. is that he was very much welcomed into the black command and he was happy to campaign in. >> host: hit some labor endorsements? >> guest: he didn't throughout the questionnaire -- thought the question of exactly the way you want but he did have come as a matter fact, some airline pilots union endorsed gingrich and 78. >> host: the coalition that elected him over time change but it was a -- >> guest: it was a precursor to the reagan coalition. because he had heavy union support which reagan had heavy union support. not union endorsement but households in 1978 the reagan had 80 and 84. so he was kind of a precursor. reagan didn't get the amount of
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support from the african-american community that gingrich got, but it wasn't for lack of trying. reagan was endorsed by hosea williams and other african-american leaders in the 1980 campaign. >> host: gingrich wins in 78, comes to washington, and the groups that supported him were not necessarily republican groups. you talk in a book about what he did to try to keep these groups in line. >> guest: the there were in vitamin of groups supported him. there was really an interesting coalition because there was no conservative organization to speak out in georgia. only the threadbare republican party took it was a vibrant as it is today. they could not muster money or resources for milk anything like that for campaigns so it's basically just a letterhead organization which was pretty much it. you had is running in georgia,
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you have to go to own organization. you can't depend on the local party or state party. did you depend on the coalition support of various groups. the environmentalists were an important part to him because that's what he taught at west george was environmental studies. so this was, legislation, hearings, meeting, he kept the door open to the more reasonable environmental organizations. >> host: compared to its predecessor is probably pretty welcomed? >> guest: absolutely. >> host: he supported for a martin luther king statute in -- >> guest: the first one to call for it. it was one of the first ones to call for martin luther king, jr. holiday. the reagan administration was slow in going along with that idea as were a lot of republicans were slow to go along with the idea. gingrich was the first one. >> host: that was part of his
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base, part of his constituency that elected them and it's a pretty low thing to ask for that. he was more jack kemp at that time. >> guest: he was kind of jack kemp before jack kemp. >> host: he introduced the bill for medical marijuana. >> guest: yes. >> host: way before it's time. i think people looking at new today and in the chastity would've looked at this freshman legislator come in at the time as a freshman congressman, is that the newt gingrich it again? >> guest: well, i think he reached a point where, no doubt he started out as a rockefeller republican. he said so. he supported rockefeller, nelson rockefeller for president in 1968, but he evolved over time because the way most people arrived at a conservative decision because they see liberalism is not working. good intentions, good ideas but
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it doesn't work practically in a governmental sense whereas conservatism and the free market does work. so he evolved over the time. he was always antiestablishment. >> host: he stood up against the south african apartheid government. few republicans stood up on that. he voted for the 85 civil rights act and got a lot of grief for that i assume in georgia for that. a pretty white district at that time. he took his name off jimmy swaggart masthead when jimmy swaggart misbehaved. this is a this is a newt gingrik the image today, we wouldn't recognize. >> guest: that's partially why with the book is because the language -- the newt gingrich image of today, i think it's a yes, of course, i did those things. why wouldn't i do those things? of course i would take my name off his letterhead or of course i i would vote for the civil
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rights act or of course i would oppose apartheid or the communist government in nicaragua or congressman supporting the communists government in nicaragua. >> host: this book is a lot of history besides gingrich. it goes back to the time in terms of politics was like. we were talking before hand about of this year when donald trump met with some of the russians, people said it was treason in the logan act but you point out in the book jim wright and number democrats were meeting with daniel ortega. >> guest: at the nicaraguan, discovered and were actively undermining reagan's foreign policy when it came to nicaragua. they were all in complete violation of the logan act. >> host: new courage -- gingrich was a backbench -- >> guest: it was called i think the redneck row. he sat right at the back of house were all the freshman southern republicans and democrats that. >> host: do you think of the time anybody would respondent as
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a future speaker? >> guest: i think a few people saw him, the potential for leadership. but i agree washington was different in those days. it was much more get along go a long found that it is today. there's more of and appreciation for revolutionaries and anti-status quo politicians nanda was even after watergate. >> host: democrats i talk to when they talk about the polarization in washington and, of course, it's much, much worse than ever was back when newt was rising, but that's not the republicans fault. they blame it on gingrich, and they place it, is sore with gingrich and .5 is a lot of other factors but could you discuss it? >> guest: if you go back, i'll tell you where it started, tom, is back in the '30s, \40{l1}s{l0}\'40{l1}s{l0}, \50{l1}s{l0}\'50{l1}s{l0},
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\60{l1}s{l0}\'60{l1}s{l0} there were a lot of liberal republicans and a lot of conservative democrats. there was an overlap between the two parties so that he could compromise more easily than the candidate. pretty much polarized, the republican party is all conservative or mostly conservative. >> host: they were not ideologically sorted. >> guest: right. but what happens is that the political parties operated in pretty much a state of equilibrium, and when they met at the national conventions, the democrats nominated a liberal, you know, , then it would take a conservative vice president to join the party together, unify the party, to produce a unified convention. eisenhower, the modern pics mix and the conservative. the modern pics lodge the moderate. kennedy the moderate pics lbj the conservative. forget the voting record and talk. this all changes, so both
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parties operate in the state of equilibrium and up until 1964 when goldwater is the nominee of the republican party in san francisco and logic says okay, he should pick nelson rockefeller or bill scranton or someone like that as his running mate unify the party and to help him win the election against lbj in the fall. but goldwater instead rejects that theory and he picks a little-known very, very conservative bill wilson, congressman bill wilson -- bill miller, beg your pardon, from buffalo, new york. now it's all conservative against the process of driving liberal republicans out of the party. over the years people like john lindsay leave the republican party go to the democratic party but he also begins a a processf attracting conservative
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democrats. john connolly conservative democrat joins the republican party. strong thurman joins republican party. so begins the process -- >> host: the voting rights act brought in different dynamic 27 voting, right? >> guest: right. >> host: they drove along the establishment democrat. we saw that in virginia when bill beats willis for the senate. so they said we don't have harry byrd could win as a democrat anymore so he runs as independent. >> guest: exactly. goldwater starts the process and it continued up until today. so there are very, very few liberal republicans in the party anymore. very, very few conservative democrats in the party anymore. >> host: that started but newt saw something else, a chance to be the majority. >> guest: yes. like reagan he realizes a lot of conservatives also democrats, a lot of conservatives, a lot of
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democrats are animated by populist issues, which is in its essence anti-big corporation, anti-big government which is why you can have a liberal populace can be anti-wall street and conservative populace can be antigovernment. >> host: although that his campaign. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: how is this met when he comes up initially? how does the leadership view this new guy from georgia? >> guest: they are happy to have the vote by these uncontrollable, and the bush white house despised him in the bush white house did everything they can to stop them from being elected with. the supported and madigan who was from illinois, a moderate establishment republican, and gingrich defeats him by one vote in the bush white house is just apoplectic about this because
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gingrich is not going to carry water from the bush white house and gingrich is very much his own man. >> host: talk but gingrich and bush fraud shack versus lane mignon. can you explain it? >> guest: just a cultural difference between the two. gingrich was in georgia but he quickly assimilated, i've been down there campaigning within. i've seen him how easily he moves within that culture down there. bush was just of a different era and a different culture. and it just, i think culture trump's everything. trump's ideology, party, everything. everything is about where you come from and what you represent and what environment you live in. >> host: reagan gets elected. newt wins his -- reagan still doesn't carry georgia in 1980. it's the only southern state carter carries.
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he starts to stop himself as a force in the house. >> guest: yes. >> host: people he's meeting with on a fairly -- >> guest: trent lott, jack kemp, cheney to some extent but there's a cadre of real rebel antiestablishment conservative republicans growing in the house. >> host: these are people who thought, very tired of being in the minority. >> guest: very much so. they've been in the minority for, since the 50s. with the chairmanship and the house banking, the house bank and the house post office and all these things that they pretty much -- >> host: they couldn't get their bills or amendments in order and it wasn't for any ideological purpose. >> guest: just no power. >> host: he sees the first opening on jim wright.
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talk about that. >> guest: charlie was a longtime democrat from detroit who was taking kickbacks from the staff. he would hire them a certain pay scale. they would cash their paychecks and then give the congressman back cash out of their own pay. this became public, and gingrich started going after him and ethics even for takes office in january of 1979, he starts, he achieves a little bit of a national platform in 78 because he's establish himself as a very interesting candidate and congressman of the future. he can be very charismatic when he wants to be. national political reporters have taken note of this because he's just obviously somebody to watch, as someone is going to be a troublemaker or a leader or
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maybe a combination of the two in the future. he hasn't outsize platform for a a guy who's just been elected to congress. he is outsized national falling, national media following. he uses it and he starts going after the eggs and eventually forces digs resignation and then he moves on to congressman st. germain, freddie st. germain who is chairman of the house banking committee who was, no pun intended but was using the house banking committee as his own piggy bank and was giving illicit money from the banks you supposed to regulate. gingrich went after him and now he is just a freshman and he's only been in office for a couple of months but he starts a drumbeat after st. germain and eventually forces him out of office thereby with some of the congress that ended up serving jail time, too. now having -- they all despise and for including some
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republicans. because he's at getting along to go longer he's doing just opposite of what tip o'neill admonished a freshman member. he's upset everybody and they just want to take it out. they wanted to beat him. they want to embarrass him, getting out of ethics can get anything they can do to stop his momentum. now he's got, he strong support among republican congress and is also drunk support or at least media coverage of abc, nbc, cbs, the "washington post," the "wall street journal," the "new york times," ap, whatever. >> host: when i was in-house use use one of the most articulate members. in a debate he was fascinating. he would command the subject, self-confident. having a gift in that respect. was he always that way? >> guest: yes. and i think from the time he was verbose, or he was talkative, from the time he was a kid he
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once persuaded the mayor of harrisburg to build, when he was ten years old, to build a zoo in harrisburg, you know? he had persuasive skills. it wasn't a legislative suit. but it was a public sale. i i think yours had a gift -- zo -- for speech. >> host: being a professor. >> guest: you are talking everyday to maybe several classes a day. you really hone those skills. >> host: he took the gifts and he sought and c-span an opportunity to reach of wider audience. can you talk about that? >> guest: this is an era before cable television. cable television was prominent today. cable news wasn't there. this would be foreseen in, for msnbc. it was little pockets of cable here and there but it was mostly reruns of i love lucy and andy griffith and stuff like that. there's no talk radio to speak
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of. there's the big medium, and c-span. he quickly realizes the potency of giving special orders every afternoon, give a five-minute speech because it was then being carried over cable into 100,000 homes around the country. dick armey, former congressman dick armey used to with him about it and he would say, gingrich would say, he would say dick, would you go given speech to 100,000 people? of course you would. that's what you are doing with c-span, with special orders every afternoon. c-span became, quickly becomes a cult leader and is getting 700 letters a week from people around the country, to this backbench junior member from georgia who is a member of a minority party was already achieving a national following,
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he understood and you talk about the abolition of the fairness doctrine. that the run out in the rise of talk waited. english being one of the first members with an email e-mail a. staying at of the curve. >> guest: he's always at the cutting edge of technology. >> host: he had a good relationship with alvin, a futurist. yet understand the way things are going. newt has always had an interest in ideas and future ideas and future society and economics and society and things like that. i can't keep up with them. i would sit there and interview him with hours and he was on tangents about these other subjects and i said, this is over my head. >> host: most members -- newt is talking on a more global perspective about what of the macro forces at work and had we utilize things. he was able to take that anyway
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i don't think democrats understood until it's too late. >> guest: and yet he has a very, very deep appreciation for the meaning of the american revolution. at the end of the revolution, benjamin rush was one of the important founders and framers wrote a letter to thomas paine, and he said, he said the revolution is over but the work goes on. gingrich wouldn't, when asked him about that of course come he said the government was always, must be challenged. he said the citizenry must always jump to national government were other people which is say what does that mean? he knew exactly what it meant when i quoted it to him. >> host: he gets the couple heads on the mantle with st. germain and digs within the biggest fish of all. talk about speaker right. >> guest: jim wright was a very, very powerful, vindictive
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speaker. people were generally afraid of him. >> host: he knew how to use power. >> guest: he would challenge the president of the united states himself. ronald reagan who, even in his diaries normally would not express too much concern for despising a political point it -- opponent but even reagan called jim wright a storm trooper. because jim wright was so relentlessly partisan, but he was also up to a lot of no good town in texas. he was into shady oil deals and shady book deals, which was beginning of, yet this book deal where he had just unbelievable amounts of money and royalty for a book that nobody wanted and nobody purchased. >> host: except interest groups. >> guest: exactly. precisely. like unions and things like that
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would buy thousands of copies of this book that nobody was ever going to read. this is what first kind of opened up, this is the first wound of right which gave gingrich the opening to go in and then use the investigation powers that he had to find out all these other shady things that wright was involved in. of course this took, was over a period of months. this just was a one-day event or a one-week event. this took place over six, nine months, a year. >> host: he didn't have gavel. he did that investigator staff or anything like that. >> guest: his own staff. >> host: people leaking stuff to him. >> guest: press and of the people who were bitter political enemies of wright who were leaking stuff to them. a lot of people like that from texas who were happy to see -- >> host: they sure did want to be out front. after months of shady cadillac deas, shady oil deals, shady
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cattle deals, shady book deals is that wright is now, could now -- >> host: even the ethics committee. >> guest: democrats vote to go ahead for the investigation, this is just shattering. i remember at the time he said his resignation from congress was broadcast live on all three networks but this is a man who is second in line to the presence of united states. this is big medicine, and of course he resigns but it's all due to newt gingrich unrelenting pursuit of him. >> host: memories are long in this business. he becomes -- >> guest: friendships are short but revenge is long. >> host: he's writing books and doing things, and there are literally hundreds of complaints filed against him by democrats. they end up getting him on what
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i think. >> guest: on one which is really kind of silly to be quite honest. he made an allusion to a fundraising appeal and a letter to henry kissinger on congressional stationery. kissinger was going to be down in georgia giving a speech, it's a gingrich wrote him a letter and asked him to meet with some high dollar bottles down there. that was the one violation of house ethics rules. they got gingrich on it. he ended up paying the fine and into the pain, of course he had lawyers these in every thing else but that was only thing they ever got them on. >> host: and he stayed in, but i mean, he was clearly the point manages taking a lot of hits for all of this. how difficult was it to get other members to go a long going after wright first? >> guest: at first nobody was here they are all too scared of wright. not only are you in a minority but speaker of the house is
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known to be vindictive individual. but as he gains momentum over the weeks and months, more facts come out, more facts are leaked out, political enemies down in texas are releasing material, or leaked material, you know, like everything in washington, everybody is account until the end and then they stand on top of the mountain to plant the flag. >> host: gingrich, bush comes in and raises, time to raise taxes. >> guest: his signature issue in 1988 was read my lips, no new taxes. he is violating his own pledge. >> host: he did not get most republicans to go along with that. >> guest: no. most republicans went along with gingrich on the first procedure vote. bush vines and 80, read my lips, no new taxes. by 1991 he's proposing new
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taxes. now reaganite republicans like ed rollins whose on the senator committee, good old friend, gingrich and others, ben weber and trent lott and jack kemp and others -- which kept wasn't there, he was in the cab at the time, but they're basically urging bush, you got to find another way to find more sources of revenue. you can't violate your own campaign pledge, and bush does, openly. >> guest: very openly. he holds a press conference, and then all the national media captures him jogging. report as soon as says, the whole gaggle of press corps was there and a reporter asked the president of the united states, what about read my lips? he runs fine points to slip senses read my hips. he's making a mockery of this solemn pledge to the american
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people. >> host: what perspective do think this late for the 92 race for bush? >> guest: heat-treated at the pied republican party that never healed. pat buchanan took advantage of that. >> host: the book is "citizen newt" by craig shirley, the fight and the best biology i think i've seen for newt. it's very historical index context. and an easy read by the way. we talked about newt and bush. newt sees when dick cheney, dick cheney thickets appointed to secretary of defense. that opens up a whip spot. >> guest: exactly it. >> host: this is the outsider. tell us about that. >> guest: paul was a new leader had testified and sent against john towers nomination.
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he would have become secretary of defense, and dick cheney would a state as whip in gingrich would a state as just a member of the conference, but because of the fate in the hands of fate is that tower is voted down in the senate to be secretary of defense, and so bush looks right and realizes dick cheney is very, very qualified, a good nominee and so a good antidote to what went on with john tower. so we nominate dick cheney which opens up the whip position which creates all new opportunities for newt gingrich which he hadn't thought about before. he was thought about being speaker of the house but the path forward was murky. dick cheney was very popular. dick cheney was very well thought out. >> host: he would not have eaten cheney. he worked with him well. >> guest: exactly. it was a question was not cheney would become speaker 1994 because would he have created the political conditions that gingrich did which led to the
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contract which led to 100 fourth powers of congress. >> host: like all historical figures its persistence, winning his third time. how many people run three times before before the win a seat after getting caught and also a bit of luck. >> guest: intelligence, lock, and a belief in his own ability to lead. >> host: the last thing they want counting votes is newt gingrich. >> guest: special when gingrich goes and does not going to be george bushes whip. i'm going to be the republican parties whip in-house. there's never good relations between gingrich and the bush white house anyway. johnson no, no was then chief of staff and dick darman who is budding director made it even worse. they didn't help the cause on capitol hill in the house as a
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matter fact, at one point relation sets out so badly that they were banned from going to capitol hill because he might every time they went up to capitol hill is new enemies were created. >> host: newt had a phd, well respected, very selective school in the south. >> guest: his thesis was on belgian economic policy in the congo. i never read it. >> host: it's one a few books he didn't publish. >> guest: when i pointed that out to him he said well, i did happen offer to have published. >> host: but it seemed like the ivy league i look at new times, always called him a pseudo-intellectual. did that create within newt, have to feel that to some extent. >> guest: i'm sure that there was some sort of resentment over that.
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you mentioned tommy, his debating skills, i realized he went before the oxford debate society in the 80s to debate u.s. policy toward nicaragua and he debated the nicaraguan foreign minister. and also liberal students at oxford vote ascii you debate and they voted gingrich the winter. that tells you about his debate skills. >> host: it does indeed and a smart he was but he was a part of that intellectual group speak that comes out. teach how is that at every segment. i think they everything they could to knocking down. >> guest: i think you look at them kind of with mirth. he could carry on a conversation about waterloo and wellington better than anybody, but he could also talk about the atlanta braves down in georgia and their chances for winning the pennant. >> host: he had a different worldview and i think at the end of the day, politics become
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basically a clash of war, which leads me to the real question, as a look the republican party today, clearly newt saw the presidential coalition could become a congressional coalition and it took a long time. >> guest: as you know, elections are local concerns that he's the first one to nationalize an off year election and make it of reference on the republican party, and reagan's legacy versus the democratic party and bill clinton's presidency. then lays out in specific issues that they're going to pass if the 100 fourth congress goes to the republican party. he also goes beyond that with corruption with term limiting speakers with committee chairman chairmanships, closing the house bank, closing the house post office. >> host: i signed that contract and i will never forget
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here in fairfax county. it was a good race. it was a tough race and i had the top of the ticket cratering emergency but have never forget he added the rant against me had me sign a contract with america. when that went up, the mcloughlin brothers, my pollsters, that was the wrong issue. everybody understood the contract, popular issues. but it was so disruptive of the norm for congress that the democrats felt, wash and felt look with their going after changing this, it's going to be a winner. and, in fact, it was not. so the party today as you look had, post donald trump, is it still reagan's party or is it now a trump party and were easy-going? >> guest: i see it as still of ronald reagan party. the issues before, the debt now is interesting how, the
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casualty, the trump white house is visit, said the debt doesn't matter. it has been a can of republican flossie since been a time that the debt does matter. it mattered very much ronald reagan. ronald reagan wrote in his diaries at the end of his presidency the two things he regretted not doing more about was the perl issue and the debt. it's always been a matter of concern to the republican party. >> host: he had a democratic congress. usually so much you can do. then bush also felt about the debt, that's a reason he wanted the revenue, tax increases. clinton also saw they had it sent but the debt and made his members take a tough vote to open lose the house. >> guest: that's right, a 91. >> host: but since a time, the debt has credit taken a sideline.
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now my wrong? >> guest: you are absolutely right. who knows where this is going to lead, but if both parties are in favor of deficit spending, is that who's going to look out for the budget? is going to look out for the payroll, or the revenue? who's going to look out for the bottom line of the national government in the american people? >> host: newt was very conscious of balancing the budget. we ballasted four years. for years in a row, sitting with clinton who understood deficits make different. >> guest: the one at a fourth and the one at a fifth congress made payments reduce the national debt. >> host: that is exactly right. i've always felt that doesn't matter until it does and then one day you wake up and it doesn't end well. >> guest: reagan used to joke it's like a baby but it's big enough to take care of itself. >> host: we will see where it goes. so we get elected, talk about
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the coalition that elected gingrich as a whip. >> it's interesting because, he had, olympia snowe was a congressman from maine who was no wild eyed conservative. she supported him. jim leach who was another moderate from iowa also supported newt gingrich. he had the support of obviously all the conservatives, are most all the conservatives except for -- he didn't get tom delay. that was transaction for tom delay. he can virtue all the conservatives but he got a lot of establishment types who admired his tactics and who were sick of being kicked around by the majority democrats for all those years. they won their chance to power themselves. he got a healthy number of -- it
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was his tactics. >> host: he was confrontational. a lot of members are risk-averse in that way. >> guest: is more about his tactics and his relentlessness and his unwillingness to surrender any point. >> host: he be a popular member is also from illinois where the leader was from. do you think that was part of the equation? >> guest: actually. he was part of the establishment and probably after he lost the whip position he would went rio the bush cabinet and was secretary of agriculture. >> host: he gets elected whip and as a couple of top with elections. this wasn't all gravy after get elected. talk about his reelection in 1990, in 1992. >> guest: is that he, tough for different reasons. the house banking committee,
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scandal emerged in 1990 with a lot of members bouncing checks and then have them covered without ever having to reimburse the house bank or delaying the reimbursement. there were some members would bounce hundreds of checks. virtually everybody was involved. >> host: anyone who had an account there. >> guest: there was a democratic member from arkansas who announced 275 checks. newt bounced 20 which in retrospect seems kind. but he got caught up in it, too. in 1990 there was a mini populist antiestablishment wave running i suppose some anti-bush, too. but he almost lost his nomination in 90 at almost lost the election in 1990. the same thing in 92 where --
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>> host: 92, the georgia legislature couldn't wait. they would take his district. there was nowhere for him to run. >> guest: something like 60, 80% of his district where he'd run in 1990 and 1998, 1986 was that when somebody else's district. he's now in a district where people don't know when. he's got to reintroduce himself the 60% of the voters. >> host: i don't think any of his current district, i looked this up, was in the new district. he had to move from the south and reintroduce himself, which was fine except you had another republican there who are some pretty -- >> guest: there was some overlap but your point is well taken. >> host: you have clark would been a state legislator and had his own local base. tell us about that race tragedy it got very ugly and herb and clark had a lot of financial resources and at some smart political operators. >> host: and he was from the area.
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>> guest: and he ran a very, very tough, tough campaign against gingrich. and again gave him a scare. newt was already probably used to these things but i think the election took six weeks to actually go through the recount before actually declared gingrich the winner. >> host: can you imagine this kind will be speaker of the house two years later? >> guest: exactly. astonishing. >> host: but it was a tremendously disruptive time in congress. he wins the seat, comes back -- >> guest: in 92, clinton carries a georgia. this also is a back pressure against him even though he almost loses his primary he still has a tough general election. >> host: but he gets reelected, comes back here. really the key time, in 92 republicans pick up some seeds basically because of redistricting. i look back on it, the voting
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rights act, the amended it and had a lot of new african-americans come into congress. as your packing african-americans into district, you are bleaching districts around the it brings in more republicans as well. the republican strength increases, you're your moving , clinton gets elected president and we look now at the first few months of trump and we see the difficulties they've had in getting things. clinton had similar problems. >> guest: sure. the obvious had a democratic house and democratic senate, but he never won a majority of the vote from the american people, and ipad pollsters tell me, ross perot took 19%, millions of votes and a lot of pollsters have told me contrary things pick some say he took most of his votes from bush, others said he split between bush and clinton. but has no mandate. the only wins with 43% of the
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vote. 49% against bob dole in 96 but he can but again doesn't get a majority of the vote. so democrats don't feel particularly loyal to clinton because he doesn't have much to hold over them since he won elections so narrowly, and so, and republicans have enough votes in the senate to mount a filibuster which bob dole does skillfully, successfully before clinton's big tax increase goes through in the spring of 93. >> host: 93. >> host: but things are quickly forming in his coalition going up anti-clinton americans, and republicans -- one group after another, right? >> guest: exactly. >> host: the book again is
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"citizen newt" by craig shirley, an excellent read. we've been through a lot of the history of newt gingrich's rise. his falls a couple times, persistence moving ahead and even with adversity. we get to 1994, and republicans smell something different in 1994. this could be a a year, but thy do not, they've been out of power for 40 years but what if you think about a republican conference? all just a one story. newt him out and did anything for me that year, and how we going to do this? we need to pick up 20 seat we could pick up 72 and thinking to myself, what's he talking about? i'll never forget, , i won my st that lie in urban virginia district which ended up the top of the ticket. north is getting like 29% at the top of the ticket but i won but i thought i'm lucky to get through this. i won by about eight points. as i'm leaving the hotel about 11:30 is at how were you doing in the rest of the country?
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we won the house and i was shocked. i had no idea but it goes back to what gingrich said. he knew something was different in the water. tell us about that. >> guest: the republican party was unified as has never been unified before and is free to beat bush and the tax increase and get initiatives that bush had divided the republican party. pretty much unified around issues and definitely unified about bill clinton one of the things, hillary care which is introduced in the spring of 93 in which are still an issue as of 94 really divided the merrick and people because they saw it as managed care, government mandates. they saw as just government interference in the private company with this cross pressure some liberal democrats because it looks like government is going to interfere with the doctor and his or her patient. so nearly unifies the republican party. i tried to cover this, tom, as
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best i could in this book is about the clinton prineville in august and september -- crime bill -- really proved to be kind of the death knell for any chance of the democrats to keep control of it because they had done, the democrats came up with the crime bill as a backstop to campaign on. we are tough on crime. crime was in a moral issue in american 1994. all the polls had crying is number one issue. the republicans did a masterful job of doing jujitsu on the crime bill and recast to get as porkbarrel. remember stuff with all sorts of pork in it, dance lessons for criminals. statues of the jack brooks, congressman from texas. it was just dealt with all poor,
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very little having do with crime prevention. the republicans did a good job of recasting it as just nothing more than more wasteful spending. the democrats were left defending a bill that nobody thinks is going to stop -- >> host: we had a gun control in that bill which was your secular. >> guest: that took a backseat because it was all about the pork that had been stuck in the bill. this eviscerated the democrats chance of using it in the fall elections. now they have nothing to campaign on. there's a signature issue for them to campaign on. i voted for the crime bill, so republicans are completely unauthentic the running commercials of democratic challengers, remember, morphing into the image of bill clinton. >> host: i remember it well. again, my own race our member and "washington post" which ended up endorsing me, by having a headline on the congress probably the worst congress in history.
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it looks -- productive by some more recent congress but after that point could not get their act together, and when they did, even a lot of democrats -- >> guest: a pretty sorry congress. >> host: plus the scandals hang in the background at the time. >> guest: a perfect storm is coming of the republicans have a contract. democrats can't get the crime bill passed that they can't get hillary care paths. they look like the keystone cops. the clinton white house looks bumbling and stumbling and can't get anything done right. you have the scandals bubbling up for bill clinton and his white house. so everything is bad for the democrats and everything is good for the republicans. republicans have contract, they have reform, they are anticorruption, all of these things are working to the republicans benefit. what's interesting is the
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economy was in good shape in 1994. >> host: growth rate was over 3%. >> guest: that's right and it should've been the saving grace for the clinton white house but nobody was focused on it. everybody was focused on the incompetence of washington, the incompetence of congress and their general rejection of all the stumbling and bumbling and their embrace as you point out everything that was popular in the contract with america. >> host: your chapters are very insightful. readers who want to think about that at the thought that when you do that at the time, but having a unified republican party, dumping this been hard to replicate under that contract with america, brought her to get a more they one house instead of a house can in and going to different factions anybody focus on passing the -- >> guest: it's remarkable the republican party has all been unified maybe two or three times in a lifetime, is, i mean in a
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meaningful sort of way. 1980, 84 and 1994. but 96, republicans who take votes away from bob dole is, there are very few times and even today, especially today is you can't argue the republican party is unified. >> host: but newt was able to do it with the power of his personality and his intellect soberly brought the party together for the first time in history. and they've held the house for most of that time. >> guest: that is probably most if not all due to newt gingrich. >> host: again the book is "citizen newt" by craig shirley. it's a biography of newt and his political career leading up to the election of republican majority. >> guest: there would be a sequel to it. >> host: there's plenty of right. there's plenty to write here. i consider myself a history buff. it's a great read.
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congratulations on a great book. >> guest: thank you very much. >> host: thank you, and thank you for watching. >> c-span, where history unfold the daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies and is brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> booktv tapes hundreds of other programs throughout the country all year long. there's a look at some of the events we are covering this week. ..
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