Newt Gingrich's Race to '08 Predictions

Former speaker says Illinois senator will be hard for Hillary Clinton to beat.

Feb. 8, 2008 — -- Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said today that last year he would have picked Sen. Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic presidential nomination, but now he's not so sure, calling Sen. Barack Obama a "phenomenon" and comparing him to John F. Kennedy.

"I am surprised how she underperformed and how well Senator Obama is doing," Gingrich said on "Good Morning America." "I think Senator Obama is slowly and steadily pulling away. The difference in fundraising capability is getting wider. They had 16,000 people in Boise turn out for Senator Obama Saturday. That's an unheard-of kind of turnout."

"I think he's becoming an unusual phenomena in American politics, almost harkening back to John F. Kennedy," Gingrich continued. "I think he's going to be very formidable for Clinton to stop."

Clinton and Obama came out of Super Tuesday in a virtual tie and are battling for delegates this weekend in Washington state, Louisiana, Nebraska and Maine.

Republican Sen. John McCain came out of the Super Tuesday nominating elections with a big lead, which became an apparent lock on the GOP nomination after his main rival, former Gov. Mitt Romney, suspended his campaign Thursday.

In spite of being the presumptive Republican nominee, McCain has raised the ire of many conservatives, who have opposed his positions on immigration, campaign-finance reform, taxes and abortion, among other issues.

Conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have gone so far as to say they would campaign for Clinton if McCain is the Republican nominee.

Gingrich said that while he has opposed McCain on a number of issues, the Republican party has to unite behind a candidate.

"I think on balance, you're looking at a total person, and he's a moderate conservative," Gingrich said. "He's had a lifetime voting record that's dramatically more conservative than Clinton and Obama."

Gingrich predicted that McCain would choose Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, or his current opponent in the race, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as his running mate.

"Or he could do something truly different and potentially ask [Democratic Senator] Joe Lieberman to form a unity ticket because of the war to bring together Democrats and Republicans. I think Senator McCain has a wide range of choices," Gingrich said.

When asked if he would accept the vice presidential nomination if asked, Gingrich said, "Sure. I don't think that's at all likely. I think Senator McCain has a number of very good choices that are currently active in public life and I think he's likely to pick one of them."

And while he was prognosticating, Gingrich called the best picture winner at this year's Oscars.

"If I'm betting, 'There Will Be Blood' is the best picture," he said.

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