After a career of more than 30 years in Washington, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday decried the political culture that he once presided over and described himself as an agent of change and an “outsider.”
“We’re trying to draw a very clear contrast. I am a very happy advocate of a dramatically better future,” Gingrich said in an interview with the Des Moines Register. “Everything about our normal, natural, political culture now has become amazingly destructive.”
And in what could be a tough sell in a general-election campaign, given his years in Washington and the millions of dollars he earned trading on his government experience after he left Congress, Gingrich said, "I’m an outsider, even though I’ve served in Washington.”
His dilemma was apparent during another section of the interview, conducted by columnist Kathie Obradovich and hosted by Iowa Public Television. Gingrich described Obama as an “amateur,” and emphasized his experience as a former congressman and House speaker.
Gingrich also illuminated his road map to the nomination, saying he has to be among the top three finishers in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and do “reasonably well” in New Hampshire a few days later. If he succeeds at that, he said, “I could begin to win the race decisively” in the next primaries, in South Carolina and Florida.
“I’ll never have as much money as Mitt Romney can raise,” Gingrich said of his chief rival, the former governor of Massachusetts. “If he can’t carry New Hampshire then the race is over, in terms of his candidacy.”
Gingrich also praised the bipartisan Medicare reform proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
“Maybe it’s the beginning of breaking up the logjam,” said Gingrich, who has been criticized by Romney for calling Ryan's original plan, providing for partial privatization of Medicare, as “right-wing social engineering.”