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Gingrich Speech Gives Lobbyists a Strategy for Midterm Elections

By Ann Devroy and Charles R. Babcock
The Washington Post

Describing for a group of lobbyists the Republican strategy for the midterm elections, Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said last week that Clinton Democrats should be portrayed as "the enemy of normal Americans." He went on to say that if the GOP wins control of the House, the party will use "subpoena power" and create a select committee on corruption to investigate the Clinton administration.

Gingrich's speech to a group of two dozen executives of government relations firms at the Capitol Hill Club provided a detailed framework of how he thinks Republicans can capture the House for the first time in 40 years and what the party will do if they succeed at it. One participant wrote a four-page memo covering the highlights of the meeting with Gingrich and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Bill Paxon (N.Y.) that was obtained by The Washington Post.

Gingrich, in an interview, confirmed the accuracy of much of the memo but said some of the quotes attributed to him were taken out of context. He said the actions he was proposing are not significantly different from those Democrats, who have controlled the House for 40 years, inflicted on the Republican minority and Republican administrations.

Asked to describe the "normal" Americans for whom Clinton is the enemy, Gingrich instead mentioned Clinton appointees such as Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Ira Magaziner, the architect of Clinton's health care plan. He said Elder's advocacy of abortion rights and the availibility of birth control in schools puts her at odds with Americans with different religious beliefs. As for Magaziner, "Normal Americans do not want government to take over every aspect of their health care," he said.

Gingrich added that he should have used the word "threat" to normal Americans rather than enemy.

Gingrich is quoted in the memo as scoffing at the idea, offered by some White House aides, that GOP control of Congress could be good for the president because it would give him a Trumanesque opportunity to run in 1996 against a do-nothing Republican Congress.

Such a suggestion, Gingrich is quoted as saying, "can be answered with one word: subpoena." He then envisioned a Congress with 20 task forces or subcommittees at work investigating corruption in the White House and throughout the administration.

Gingrich also told the group if Republicans took over the House "there would be the opportunity to restructure and restaff" the office of technology assesssment, the congressional budget office and other administrative jobs. He compared it to the political appointments a new president can make in the executive branch, about 1,600.

Republicans need to capture 40 seats to control the House, and the memo said if the GOP falls slightly short, they will try to make up the difference with Democratic conversions.