ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reversed course on Monday, issuing a statement saying that if he were still in office he would "reluctantly and sadly" support the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill.
Gingrich, who led the charge against the bailout last week, explained his change in position by saying that the House Republicans, "reinforced by John McCain," have improved the bill "significantly" so it is "less bad" than the original proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
While saying that he sympathizes with any member of Congress who votes "no," Gingrich says in his statement that the crisis of the credit markets is real and could have "horrendous" consequences.
While Gingrich has come around on the bailout bill, he still wants Paulson to resign for initially requesting the $700 billion with no oversight.
Gingrich maintains that as long as Paulson is in charge, "it is impossible to get a creative or significantly better solution."
"Having a former chairman of Goldman Sachs preside over disbursing hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street is a terrible concept and inevitably will lead to crony capitalism and the appearance of – if not the actual existence of – corruption," says Gingrich in his statement. "The Bush Administration has now provided three case studies in arrogance, isolation, and destructiveness: Michael Brown during Hurricane Katrina, Ambassador Jerry Bremer in Baghdad, and Secretary Paulson at Treasury."
"It is a tragic and very expensive legacy," he continued. "No conservative and no Republican should doubt how much it has hurt our cause and our party."
The former House Speaker hinted that he was moving in the direction of supporting the bailout during his Sunday appearance on the "This Week" roundtable but did not make his position definitive until Monday.
The former House Speaker was in a very different place last week when he urged McCain to break with President Bush and Barack Obama and oppose the bailout.
"I don’t know how he can vote for this and with a straight face go around and say that he’s for real change and he’s the reform candidate," Gingrich told ABC News on Sept. 23.
Gingrich issued the statement as the vote was underway on the floor of the House. It eventually went down to defeat: 205 in favor, 228 against.