Was Newt Gingrich just playing for laughs, or was he encouraging a Draft-Newtfor-President movement?
In an interview in the June 12 issue of Business Week, the House speaker says that he has “no compulsive urge to run” for president but might if “seven million people” beg him.
Friday, he said he was just joking. Either way, the Business Week interview adds to a lengthening list of coy statements by Gingrich in recent weeks about his intentions.
Given all the speculation, it was natural that Business Week would ask him about his plans.
At first, Gingrich said, “I don’t have a clue as to how you’d do what I do in terms of educational leadership, and as speaker, and run for president at this point in my life,” the magazine quotes him as saying.
But when he was asked if there were any circumstances under which he might run, he said: “Sure. Seven million people show up Tuesday morning with a draft petition and beg me. Even Eisenhower came back from Paris.”
Gingrich told reporters Friday in Georgia, where he is vacationing: “They asked me a blunt question - ‘Were there any circumstances?’ - and I gave them what I consider a fairly outrageous answer that they took seriously.”
An Atlanta talk-show host said he would start gathering signatures.
And Lee Walczak, the Washington bureau chief for Business Week, who attended the interview, said: “Anyone who reads the interview will conclude that the speaker was clearly leaving the door ajar. There were no winks or nods.”
His reference to Dwight Eisenhower was not incidental. The general, who returned from France in 1952 and won the Republican nomination for president by virtual acclaim, is one of the speaker’s heroes.