Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich spoke ab out political reforms he hopes young people will enact Monday night at Jack Morton Auditorium.
It is rumored that the conservative Republican is considering a run for the presidency in 2008. Gingrich spoke to a nearly filled auditorium Monday summarizing his speech by saying: “I want to talk about the scale of change that I think is necessary for your generation.” The event was coordinated by the GW College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom.
Gingrich emphasized that the United States is experiencing an era of change comparable to that of the Civil War period and discussed issues ranging from immigration policy to what he said he believes to be a poorly functioning federal government.
“I believe to be pro-legal immigration, you must be pro-assimilation,” Gingrich said of his views on the immigration system. “This does not refer to any one language.”
Gingrich came under fire earlier this month after he referred to Spanish as the language of the ghetto. The former legislator has since said he used a bad choice of words.
On Monday, Gingrich did not back away from his ideas that foreign immigrants should learn English.
“You don’t need to be able to speak it fluently,” he said, giving examples of thick-accented political figures Henry Kissinger and Arnold Schwarzenegger, which prompted audience laughter.
Gingrich also responded to audience questions. Kyle Boyer, a freshman, asked if Gingrich would run for the presidency.
“I won’t even begin to think about it until September 30,” Gingrich responded.
He said he will continue developing and discussing his political goals until Sept. 30, at which point he will decide with his family whether to run in the Republican primary for president of the United States.
“I believe I can have a campaign launched in three to six weeks,” Gingrich said. “It’s absurdity to spend all of 2007 campaigning for office and then to spend all of 2008 campaigning for office.”
He said this process would create a national dialogue that would be beneficial to both politicians and the American audience and also “take more than half the poison out of the current system.”
When freshman member of the College Democrats Michael Wear stepped forward to pose a question later in the evening, Gingrich suggested that he and a Democratic politician could have this type of debate at GW if Wear brought one of his party’s prominent members to campus.
“I was pleased that he was focused on politics and not cheap political jokes,” Wear said afterward. “I do (however) believe he’s wrong on much of what he says.”
First elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich served for 20 years and had the position of Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999 during the Bill Clinton administration. He was named Man of the Year in 1995 by Time magazine and has published nine books.