Gingrich continues to warn of World War III
By Mark Preston
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) painted a grim picture for a group of young conservatives Monday, telling them that unless terrorism is defeated overseas then the United States will be fighting this war on the home front.
"The morning they get nuclear and biological capabilities, the war is not going to be over there," Gingrich said in a speech before the Young America's Foundation.
He told the college-aged students that "we are in an emerging third world war" -- a warning he has been expressing both publicly and privately. On Monday, he cited North Korea, Iran, the various terrorist organizations and Venezuela and Cuba as proof of the "scale" of the threat.
"If our enemies get a nuclear or biological weapon, they are going to use it," he said. "This is not the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a tired, atheist, bureaucracy.
"If you are an atheist and then you become a suicide bomber you don't get to go anywhere," he added, referencing the religious glory some suicide bombers are promised for sacrificing their lives.
Gingrich, who was forced to step down following the 1998 elections, is now considering a run for president in 2008.
"I will think about it, next fall of '07," Gingrich said in an interview with the Grind following his address.
A Republican source familiar with Gingrich, told the Grind that Gingrich is seeking to "create a position for himself as sort of the idea person and see where it is in a year from now.
"If the environment is right then he can decide whether he wants to run for president or not," the source said. "And if he doesn't run, he can still contribute to the dialogue."
Gingrich used his appearance to rally the young Republicans on a range of conservative issues such as health savings accounts, regulatory reform and less taxes. Gingrich offered little criticism of his own party, although he noted his opposition to the White House's failed approach to implementing Social Security reform and he questioned the loyalty of some Republicans serving in the Senate.
"It is amazing we have a handful of Republican senators who are more trial lawyer than they are Republicans," he said.
In the interview after his speech, Gingrich said he was not surprised he didn't get any inquiries from the audience about a possible presidential bid during a question and answer period.
"We are a long way from '08," Gingrich said. "I encourage them to talk about this year's debate, this year's solutions (and) this year's ideas."
Saved from Lebanon
Freshman Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-Michigan), who is battling a primary challenge from his right, is running a new television ad featuring a family thanking him for helping them escape the war zone that has become Lebanon. As sounds of artillery and machine gun fire roar in the background and images of destruction and tanks flash across the screen, a young mother cradling a sleeping baby explains that she was "waiting for the final adoption papers when war broke out.
"We were stuck and we didn't know how to get the baby home," the women said. "That's when my husband called Joe Schwarz. Congressman Schwarz made arrangements to bring our baby home safely."
Evan Tracey of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on television advertising spending, said this is the first ad of its kind that alludes to the ongoing war between Israel and Hezbollah. The primary is August 8.
McKinney accuses opponent of being cozy with GOP
Another incumbent facing a primary challenge, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia), accused her opponent during a debate Monday night of being indebted to the GOP for accepting financial contributions from Republicans in his bid to defeat her.
"If you take money from Republicans, if you take votes from Republicans, then you have to be one of the Republicans' men in Congress," said McKinney, who also criticized her opponent, former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson, for past personal financial problems, including unpaid taxes, as well as for ties to developers when he was a county commissioner.
Johnson dismissed McKinney's attacks on him as "desperate" and sought, as he has throughout the campaign, to put the focus on McKinney, calling her the "candidate of polarization and divisiveness" with a "pitiful" record as a legislator.
"She can't work with people," he said. "If you can't work with people, you can't get anything done in Congress. I'm going to be an effective legislator. I'm not going to be a divisive one who polarizes and divides people and then sits back and does nothing."
He also dismissed McKinney's charge that he is too cozy with Republicans.
"I am a lifelong Democrat. I'm a progressive Democrat," he said.
"Congresswoman McKinney knows that I'm a Democrat. And so this is another desperate attempt by a desperate candidate."
A run-off election was triggered after neither candidate emerged with 50 percent of the vote on July 18. McKinney won 47 percent of the vote, while Johnson took 44 percent. They face voters a second time on August 8 and the winner is expected to win the seat in November.
Surprisingly, there was only one mention of McKinney's much publicized physical altercation in March with a Capitol Hill police officer that forced her to apologize for the incident on the House floor. A District of Columbia grand jury reviewed the case, but did not return an indictment. When asked if she thought the controversy prevented her from winning an outright majority on July 18, she responded, "The fact of the matter is, I was never charged with anything."
Incumbents appear safe but what about evolution?
Kansas voters head to the polls today and Republicans will choose candidates to challenge Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and Rep. Dennis Moore (D) in November, while Democrats will pick an opponent for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R). These incumbents are expected to win re-election in November, but political observers will still be closely watching today's election results. A battle for control of the state Board of Education is taking place with the issue of teaching evolution front and center. The New York Times has an excellent explainer in today's edition.
The Kansas Secretary of State's office will begin posting results starting at 8 p.m. ET on itswebsite.
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