April 13th, 2010
03:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Gingrich: 'You can't govern by saying no'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/13/art.newt0413.cnn.jpg caption="Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that having a positive agenda in 2010 could help Republicans win the White House back in 2012."]
Washington (CNN) – As Republicans begin to prepare in earnest for this year's midterm elections, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is again challenging his party to do more than oppose Democratic initiatives.

Instead, Gingrich told a gathering of conservative bloggers at The Heritage Foundation Tuesday that the GOP should develop a positive agenda for 2010 that can carry Republicans through to the next presidential election in 2012.

Rather than running from 'the party of no' label developed by Democrats as a talking point against congressional Republicans, some Republicans have embraced the idea of resisting the priorities of the White House and the Democratically-controlled Congress as the midterms inch closer.

"There is no shame in being the party of no if [Democrats are] proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said last week at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. But, speaking at the same event, Gingrich offered a very different vision. "There are many things that we can say yes to," he told his fellow Republicans.

Asked about the split between himself and Palin, Gingrich said Tuesday that running only on opposition to the Democrats may result in success later this year, but doing so would leave the GOP without a clear road map for how to wield the levers of government should they regain control of Congress.

"You can't govern by saying no," the former House Speaker said.

"Imagine we won a huge victory [in November]. Imagine that John Boehner's the new [House] Speaker. Imagine that Mitch McConnell is the new [Senate] Majority Leader. What's their agenda? It can't just be yelling no."

Citing unemployment, energy policy, and the size and scope of the government, Gingrich added that "there are a hundred questions that are real," when it comes to what the Republican agenda would be if they recaptured control of Capitol Hill.

Gingrich also opined that having a positive agenda now would help Republicans in the next White House race.

"If you run in '12, you want to win a re-affirming election, in which people actually vote for something," he said.

Citing Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980 and Republicans' success in the 1994 midterms, Gingrich said it was important to offer "solutions not just ideology."

And, referring to the GOP's victory in 1994, Gingrich said, "We did not have a contract against Bill Clinton. We had a 'Contract with America.' We stood for welfare reform, we stood for tax cuts, we stood for a balanced budget."

Asked to name what he sees as the top issues for a positive Republican agenda, Gingrich mentioned creating jobs, balancing the federal budget, developing an energy policy that reduces dependence on foreign suppliers, and reforming the educational system.

Filed under: 2010 • 2012 • GOP • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. paul

    Warning!!!! you may be overloading Palin's brain cells!!!!!

    April 13, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Dick

    One day not long ago Newt yelled "No" too, and shut down the government. Now it's "Solutions." What'll it be tomorrow, "No solutions."?

    April 13, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. john hall

    You republicans seem to forget that you need VOTES to get elected. If you play political football with people's unemployment, your going to find a lot republicans like me, switch to independents! People will not long remember what you do for them, they have extremely LONG memories of what you do TO them. If there are any brains left in the leadership, you'll get this point and realize that there is no upside to colburn's position, other than media glory. People aren't stupid... when goldman-sachs, the war effort etc.. have a blank deficit check, trying to find a standoff for the U.I. extension is shooting yourself in the foot. There is no more destructive issue you could take a stand on and not be hammered in the midterms.. WAKE UP!

    April 13, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. lovable liberal

    You can't govern by saying no, says Newt. But out of the other side of his mouth, he wants to repeal just about everything.

    Yep, that's the Republican platform – unreality.

    April 13, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    You can't govern by saying yes, either, if your yes means doing the wrong things.

    Time for government to look at what needs to be done, and moving forward, rather than doing what is wrong.

    April 13, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  6. tacuache

    They could always pick a war with someone else; Yemen maybe?

    April 13, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. Michael

    Repuglicans will be a party of "no" until they get back majorities in the congress, then they will support everything initiated by their party again! Just remember their promises before they got back in under George Bush! Repuglicans did not pay for nothing during 8 years of Bush administration, and left 8 trillion deficit and 1.3 trillion yearly deficit! They also spent or squandered Billions of the surplus left them by Bill Clinton; left 2 Wars, @ nuclear Conflicts, Wall Street, Banking, Mortgage, Auto, Education, and Healthcare crisis! FOR REPUGLICANS IT WILL BE ALWAYS "NO" TO DEMOCRAT INITIATIVES!

    April 13, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Ed

    Newt should never allow himself to be compared to Palin. I rarely agree with him but compared to Newt, Palin's credentials are super weak. And besides she is a quitter.

    April 13, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. rdepontb

    This stuck-in-the-1990s idiot has to make up his mind. It is the Dems' fault or is it the Reps' fault that the country is in such a fiscal mess?

    He must not realize that picture-takin' machines can make it easy for anybody to watch and hear him talk, jus' about whenever the want to. He thinks he can say whatever he wants on one day and change it around the next in the next town, and no one will be any wiser.

    Dr. Gingrich, please-pick one side as having more blame, pick one side as having better answers, pick one side to stand out of the way of.

    April 13, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. Peggy in Texas

    He otta no!!!!

    April 13, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. JP

    The whole idea of the GOP being the party of "NO" vs. party of "YES" is a ridiculous discussion of semantics. If the GOP does not agree with the Democrats' ideas or legislation, of course they should stand firm in their convictions and say "No." The same goes for Democrats. It just so happens that since Democrats control Congress, the GOP is bound to take the "No" stance more often by default. The discussion within the GOP should focus on ,not only pointing out differences between party ideaology (as Sarah Palin is great at doing), but taking that a step further and stating WHY the GOP argument is better, and HOW the GOP plans to implement their ideas. In other words, they need to discuss HOW they differ, WHY they differ, and WHAT they plan to do. It's a shame that circumstance and the media have portrayed the GOP negatively as "The Party of No", but they can move beyong that by presenting a clear, focused, and complete plan for how they want to implement their agenda.

    April 13, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. Barricades of fear block the mind

    imagine empty headed sheep in a slaughter house.

    April 13, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Eric

    "Asked to name what he sees as the top issues for a positive Republican agenda, Gingrich mentioned creating jobs, balancing the federal budget..."

    Oh of course, who wouldn't want that? It just seems silly that in the midst of the worst recession in a long time, republicans think this is the perfect time to scream about the budget. But of course we gotta help the economy too. I wonder how they would simultaneously reduce the deficit and stimulate the economy? Oh I know, cut taxes! But how would we reduce the budget when revenue is decreasing even more? Well then we got to reduce government spending, which will result in more people losing jobs and a weaker economy. So we'll just cut taxes more...

    April 13, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. MikeH

    But your Holy Goddess Sarah Palin (blessed be her name) says you're the party of "Hell No". Isn't Newt committing blasphemy by disagreeing with the Holy Goddess?

    April 13, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Michael Bindner

    The last time the Republicans had power, even with a Republican President, they seemingly had no agenda. They could bairly pass Part D and could not pass immigration reform. What they were good at was looting the public purse.

    April 13, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. Victim of GOP Taliban

    The Republicans are incapable of governing period. What good has the GOP done the past 20 years? Anything?

    April 13, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. geecee

    This guy talks out of both sides of his mouth. At the so-called "Southern Republican Conservative (Confederacy) Conference" he called our President the "most dangerous, far-left leaning liberal President we have ever had." Those words are lies, inciteful, fear-mongering and untruthful, to say the least. First he stirs up hatred, anger and fear, and then he wants to calm people down?? What's up with this jerk?

    April 13, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Look whose waking up and smelling the java?

    The GOP has painted itself into a corner. No where to go without stepping all over the mess that they've been spreading for 15 months.
    And yes, that would involve an AWFUL LOT OF BACKPEDALING.

    tee hee.

    April 13, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |

    But the GOP says otherwise. Personally I hope the rest of the republicans do not believe you, because you're right. The rest of the GOP believes that because the Tea Baggers are LOUD that they represent lots of people. I guess they do if you call 11% a lot. I hope the Tea Baggers take over the republican party completely, that way we'll get the rest of the say no republicans out of office and move our great country forward again.

    April 13, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Gingrich is correct that you can't be a negative governor/legislator. There is no way that they can tear down things and seen as doing what is needed. There are no ideas behind "no" and that is where the GOP will stumble.

    April 13, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. al in memphis

    They are the part of "no" because they have NO ideas.
    It's more than saying to NO cooperation with the Obama administration.
    BTW, you can govern by saying no if you are saying no to the people and yes to corporations.

    April 13, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. A different George W.

    Dare I say, I agree with Newt!?
    As an independent thinking, voting American I am constantly amazing and dumbfounded and the BLIND manner in which Republicans and Conservatives approach EVERYTHING. The simple "NO" (because I say so approach) is not only foolish, it's a sign of no ability to see fact vs. fiction, to read, think and understand policy and above all else flies 100% in the face of how Americans think. "NO" also goes counter to everything Americans have achieved since before we signed the Dec. of Independence. Seriously, had "NO" won we would not have conquered space travel, not have seen the Berlin Wall come down, would not have the medical, scientific and technological strength and achievement that Americans have used to lead the world.

    "NO" is about ignorance, fear and the worst kind of "simplicity" – a lack of intelligence and the lack of human capacity to reason, to negotiate, to do what we need to push ourselves BOLDLY into the future.

    A United States that allows itself to be governed by "NO" will absolutely fail. Despite all of the fearful "NO" we hear from Palin, Beck,
    Steele, and on and on and on...still has not silenced the "YES WE CAN" attitude that whether you want to admit it or not, IS seeing the economy improve, IS seeing advances in diplomatic relationships, IS seeing the stock market advance (and with that comes Main Street's Growth in Individual Pensions, Investments and ultimately growth).

    So, say "NO" all you want BUT that will only get you a "NO" in the voting booth. Fast forward a couple of years from now...I think we'll see a Second Term of Our Current President. And to that we say a resounding "YES".

    April 13, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. aware

    Listen to Ryan Mr. G! You had your chance and blew it! 🙁

    April 13, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. A different George W.

    One correction to Newt's commentary – the budget WAS balanced under Clinton. He did it.

    April 13, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. FactCheck

    As much of a sleazeball that he is, at least he understands modern politics. If the RNC thinks that they have a shot of gaining control of either houses by voting "no", they are in for a rude surprise.

    April 13, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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