House GOP Speaks: It's Gingrich By Acclamation
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Nov. 20) -- House Republicans weighed ethics concerns against continuity and voted for continuity: Newt Gingrich won renomination as Speaker by acclamation, virtually ensuring him a second term as House leader.
Gingrich called for cooperation with Democrats, while recognizing that the approach wouldn't always work. "We won't always agree on details," he said. "But I want to suggest to you that if the last Congress was the 'confrontation Congress,' this Congress will be the 'implementation Congress,' and we will be very pleased two years from now on how much we have implemented working together and placing the nation first. (224K WAV sound)
The vote came just hours after the Georgia Republican's stepfather, Robert Gingrich, died of lung cancer. "It's made more complex because this is also my mother's birthday," Gingrich said. "That makes it hard."
"Yet," he continued, "having had time recently to be in the hospital in Harrisburg and reflect on my father's life -- the fact that he served in the U.S. Army, and from his perspective, duty, honor, country were more than words -- they were a way of life.
"It's struck me that's a pretty good way for us to enter this session," Gingrich said. "We're more than politicians, we're more than the cynical, venal, narrow, corrupt, despicable profession that all too often is the reflection of the current culture.
"We are in fact the inheritors and the lifeblood of the process of freedom. We are the process by which a free people choose their leaders. We are the way in which the human race has sublimated civil war and violence and sought to find other ways to choose its future and allow people of all backgrounds of all means to have a chance to lead," Gingrich said. "And we have a great obligation to honor our country as we work together."
Gingrich was a lightning rod in the last Congress for Democrats and others opposed to the sweeping agenda he set into motion. But in the end, the House GOP remained loyal to the man many credit as the architect of their 1994 takeover of Congress.
And despite the flogging he took from Democrats and the press over the past two years, Gingrich proved himself good at managing the unruly House and its diverse lot of Republicans. "In many ways, he does represent the one person who has the most appeal for moderates all the way to conservatives in our caucus," said Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.).
Gingrich's remarks were reflective. "I made a few big errors" in the last Congress, he said. "I was both Speaker of the House and our leading advocate, and some days I didn't do it very well. Yet, when it was all over, despite a massive campaign by the unions, despite all the other things that were going on, all the misrepresentations about Medicare, when it was all over, the American people for the first time in 68 years decided to reaffirm a Republican direction of the U.S. House and elected us and asked us to continue to lead. And that is a historic achievement."
The House's first vote in the 105th Congress will be to elect a Speaker. The House GOP majority is expected to win the vote, which is usually along straight party lines, unless a pending House ethics committee report on Gingrich turns out to contain new and damaging information.
Several Republicans had said that they may not support Gingrich within the party or on the House floor. Peter King of New York said that the public's low opinion of Gingrich would hurt the GOP's efforts to enact its agenda. Oklahoma's Steve Largent told "Fox Morning News" last week that he thought Gingrich should step aside until his ethics inquiries were over. But he later reconsidered his opposition after a call from the speaker.
Christopher Shays of Connecticut says he will not vote for Gingrich on the House floor unless the ethics committee has released its report by then.
But that's about as far as the dissent went. No one stepped forward to run against Gingrich. And the rest of his leadership team, House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Majority Whip Tom DeLay, both of Texas, and conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio, cruised to re-election to their posts today. Georgia Rep. John Linder was appointed chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
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