ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Likely presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Friday that every day Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi remains in power, the United States looks “weak and uncertain” and only adds to the growing unrest in the Middle East.
Gingrich criticized the Obama administration for not moving faster to oust Gadhafi after President Obama declared earlier this month that he needed to go.
“This is the opposite of Eisenhower and Reagan — neither of whom would have held a press conference and both of whom would have made sure that he was gone,” Gingrich said. “There are a lot of ways to get rid of a dictator if you want to, but this idea that we posture, we talk, we have diplomatic meetings … it makes us look weak and uncertain.”
Referring to Thursday night’s United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against the Libyan government, Gingrich said, “Western Democracies have now made clear that they’re prepared to get rid of Gadhafi. Well, they better have a plan.”
Gingrich offered up the criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to the crisis after an event marking the first anniversary of the passage of the nation's health care law. The former Republican House Speaker took the president to task for “stonewalling serious rethinking” of health care reform and predicted that the law would be repealed by this time two years from now.
“I think it will be repealed, by March or April of 2013,” he said, adding: “It is clearly an indefensible bill.”
It’s a talking point that Gingrich has been using during his travels in key early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire as he continues to explore a presidential bid. Gingrich indicated this week he would make an official announcement about the 2012 race in May.
Gingrich said he could not predict whether the U.S. Supreme Court would eventually rule the health care law unconstitutional, but he said that legal action against it in several states clearly “puts the bill at risk.”
“As a general principle in America we have very few examples of a reform that has been opposed by the American people which survived,” Gingrich said. “The sheer weight of public opinion consistently forces the system to ultimately follow the people.”
According to the results of a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking the attitudes of Americans toward the law, 42 percent of the public said they view it favorably and those who think it will improve their own quality of care, costs or ability to get insurance are at all time lows.
The poll found that 23 percent of Americans say the law will make their health care costs better compared to 42 percent who say costs will grow.
At Friday’s news conference in Washington, organized by Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, Gingrich used a wall-sized poster detailing the “1,968 New and Expanded Secretarial Powers In the Health Reform Law” as the backdrop to criticize what he said was the bloat of government bureaucracy caused by the bill.
As an example, Gingrich pointed to a new power entrusted to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius: to determine national tooth inspection standards.
“Do you really think that 1,968 additional grants of power to the federal government makes any sense?” Gingrich said.
Conversations with House Speaker John Bohener, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Gingrich said, have left him convinced that Congressional Republicans are “absolutely committed” to defunding the law.
The president, he said, “can block them from repeal,” but “I don’t think he can coerce them into funding.”