Newt Gingrich Defends White House Pass as Legal Necessity

The former speaker of the House criticizes campaign finance laws.

Sept. 30, 2007 — -- Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich reiterated this morning that his recent pass on a 2008 White House bid was a legal necessity.

Gingrich rejected the notion that it was for lack of resources or potential. He announced this weekend that he would not be a Republican candidate because it would prohibit him from continuing to work with his American Solutions organization.

"To give up and kill an organization we spent a year on, and that had 2,000 sites around the country where people had now invested their time and effort, just to look at whether or not you could run, I thought would be irresponsible," Gingrich said in an exclusive interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

He went on to rail against campaign finance laws.

"The McCain-Feingold Act criminalizes politics ... We were informed yesterday morning that if I had any communication with American Solutions after I became a candidate, it was a criminal offense."

Gingrich, who was poised to launch a $30 million fundraising Web site, asserted that he could have been a serious contender.

"I think it would have been a real campaign. I think we would have had a chance to win," he said.

On what it will take for the Republicans to win, Gingrich said, "The Republicans have got to get out from under Washington. And, if we nominate somebody who is a continuation of where we are right now, we're going to lose."

He went on to offer up his predictions for the Republican candidates. "Both Giuliani and Romney are beginning to articulate really dramatic change. I think that Thompson has not yet. I think Huckabee is very effective, and if Huckabee can find money, he will be dramatically competitive almost overnight. He's probably the best performer in terms of giving speeches and being appealing."

On the Democratic front, Gingrich made clear his belief that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will be the candidate to beat.

"I believe she is very professional. I think the Clinton machine is the most powerful political machine in modern America. I think her husband is the smartest politician in our generation," he said.

But, according to Gingrich, "trying to beat Sen. Clinton, personally, is just insane. Everybody in America who's ever going to vote against Sen. Clinton, knows everything that anyone's going to tell them. And, everybody in America who's going to vote for her knows everything you could possibly tell them."

Instead, Gingrich argued that beating the Clinton campaign is an ideological, rather than personal, case.

"The left is fundamentally wrong from the standpoint of most Americans on issue after issue," he said.

"Let's take her as a very solid professional, competent person, and say, do we want to go — does America want to go where she would take America?"