Gingrich called Thompson "very formidable" and predicted that the actor-politician, who is expected to formally enter the presidential race later this summer, would join Giuliani and Romney as one of the "final three" Republican presidential candidates with a serious chance of being nominated. When Thompson was still in the Senate, he backed McCain's overhaul of the nation's campaign-finance laws.
As for whether he would personally enter the 2008 race, Gingrich reiterated his plans to sit down with his wife and family on Sept. 30 to evaluate whether to form a presidential exploratory committee.
Gingrich's exploratory committee decision will come after he hosts two days of participatory workshops on the Internet -- Sept. 27 and Sept. 29 -- which are intended to develop new ideas for overhauling American government. The first of those dates was chosen to coincide with the 13th anniversary of the Contract With America, the 1994 platform used by House Republicans, which catapulted Gingrich to the speakership.
Gingrich noted that if one of the current candidates picks up his ideas and campaigns on the "scale of change" that he thinks necessary, he will stay out of the race and focus instead on influencing the more than 500,000 elected officials in the United States.
The movement Gingrich hopes to lead focuses on replacing what he describes as the current system of "bureaucratism, legalism and political correctness" with a new system oriented around the values of "more choices, with higher quality, at lower cost and greater convenience."
Even though U.S. conservatives often malign the French, Gingrich said in his Friday speech that he would like to change U.S. tax law along the lines favored by France's new conservative president.
Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed making income earned beyond France's 35-hour work week tax-free. Under Gingrich's proposal, income earned beyond the 40-hour American work week up to $100,000 or $150,000 would be tax free.
To develop the idea, he has partnered with Ken Kies, the former staff director of the Joint Tax Committee, and he plans to roll out the proposal in detail after Sarkozy enacts the concept in France. Gingrich said that he is working to make his idea applicable to those who have more than one job and to those who work on a salaried, rather than hourly, basis.
"Can you imagine the screams from the left?" asked Gingrich. "Because they think it is their money. How can you take this money from government? But I think that's the fight we win."