EVERETT – Newt Gingrich changed American politics with the Republican Revolution.
Now the former speaker of the U.S. House is on a mission to save America, warning that the nation’s survival is threatened by terrorists abroad and crises at home.
Saturday, he brought his message to Everett, imploring those at a political gathering to recognize the stakes and elect officials capable of responding aggressively to the challenges.
“My job is to go out in almost a missionary effort to lay out a vision of the future and to try and get people at every level (of government) to understand that this is about America’s future,” Gingrich told 150 people at a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Doug Roulstone at the Everett Events Center.
On the domestic front, the nation must improve its education system, compete with China and India and curb illegal immigration, he said.
The immediate threat comes from those out to “defeat the U.S. and eliminate Israel from the face of the Earth,” Gingrich said.
The threat is global, he said, threading together the fighting in Lebanon, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, train bombings in India, terrorist plots in the U.S. and Canada and test-firing of missiles by North Korea.
“We are now in World War III,” he said. “We have two futures: We win or we cease to be around.”
The nation cannot avoid the conversation or be passive in its response, he said.
“The reason what you’re seeing on TV looks like a war is because it is a war. So therefore, let’s roll up our sleeves and win,” Gingrich said as the crowd erupted in applause.
Gingrich, 63, of Georgia, rose to prominence as a co-author of the Republican political gospel known as the Contract with America. Introduced during the 1994 campaigns, it provided Republican candidates with a simple message of reform, including calls for term limits and a balanced budget, that Democrats never successfully countered.
That year, Republicans took the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 1954, leading to Gingrich’s election as speaker.
Gingrich’s four years on the job had plenty of controversy, including a 1995 clash with Democratic President Bill Clinton that led to a shutdown of the federal government and a 1996 investigation of alleged ethics violations after he accepted a large cash advance for a book deal.
On Saturday, loyalists showered Gingrich with support; Roulstone praised him as “the man with ideas.”
Gingrich lauded Roulstone, who is running against U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., for the 2nd Congressional District seat. As a retired Navy captain who commanded the USS Stennis, Roulstone has leadership skills and practical experience needed in the Capitol, Gingrich said.
He said he would feel safer if Congress had “fewer lawyers and more people who know how to run an aircraft carrier.”
Gingrich answered several questions, including one urging him to write another “contract.”
Maybe in 2008 or 2012, he said.
“To have a real contract with real power, it has to grow from the grass roots,” he said.
Nine-year-old Thomas Tanjen of Edmonds asked the question on everyone’s mind: Will Gingrich run for president in 2008?
“I don’t know,” Gingrich said. “I think my job is to communicate a movement for winning the future. … If over time that leads up to my running, I will.”
Thomas seemed satisfied.
“I think he would be a great man for it,” he said.