Newt Gingrich might be flirting with a presidential run.
But the former House speaker says the change he is after is much bigger than anything the next president can do.
"This is so hard to get across to the national news media," said Gingrich. "It cannot only be about the presidency. The fact is that in our constitutional structure the president is only one of 513,000 elected officials. There are school boards, county commissions, city councils, local judges, the sheriff, the state legislature."
"When you try to change America," he said, "you have to change a heck [of] a lot more than Washington, and you have to change a heck of a lot more than the Oval Office. You have to have citizens at every level who are prepared to go out and work for real change."
Gingrich's effort to move government into a Fed Ex-like "world that works" got under way Thursday with a speech in Atlanta. His American Solutions movement continues Saturday with a series of policy-based workshops around the country that will focus on everything from "saving Social Security" to "saying goodbye to the IRS" to "rediscovering God in America."
Sunday, he appears on ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."
View the schedule of workshops here: http://www.americansolutions.com/General/?Page=f57be05e-5b03-4fb7-b238-f9a4ec278266
To give a nonpartisan tinge to his conservative reform effort, Gingrich was joined on stage Thursday by a former Democratic Party chairman who talked about his current efforts to reform the nation's public schools.
Roy Romer, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who ran the Los Angeles public schools after serving as governor of Colorado, talked Thursday about his push for higher standards, more time for learning and differential pay for teachers.
Gingrich explained his effort to include Democrats during a recent breakfast with reporters.
"We are consciously trying to build the momentum," said Gingrich, "that says the country is sick of red versus blue and is very interested in a red, white and blue approach."
Romer's Saturday workshop on education is not the only one that will be headed by a well-known Democrat.
Harvard professor Elaine Kamarck, a former top adviser to Vice President Al Gore, who ran President Clinton's reinventing government initiative, will give a workshop on reducing the bureaucracy.
While praising the work of Democrats like Romer, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Gingrich also espoused more traditional conservative rhetoric on abolishing the "death tax," making the lives of trial lawyers harder and defeating — rather than trying to understand — America's enemies.
"We are a very united American people with a very divided political process," said Gingrich, "and we want to understand the distinction."
Gingrich's speech was punctuated with stark language about what he thinks a businesslike government in touch with the public's values should deliver.
"As a general rule," said Gingrich, "I think levees should not fail, I think bridges should not fall … and I think English should be the official language of government."
As part of his broader reform effort, Gingrich is planning to undertake special initiatives on the environment and the problems of the inner city.