House Majority Leader Dick Armey, seeking to dispel the notion that House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s job is on the line, insisted Sunday that Gingrich is doing fine and can keep the speakership as long as he wants it.
Armey, the No. 2 Republican in the House and Gingrich’s probable successor if the speaker were to step down, blamed journalists for a furor last week over rumblings within the GOP ranks against the speaker.
“We’ve got a press corps that can’t stand to see people getting along, and they are obsessed with a bunch of trivial stuff that nobody is interested in,” Armey said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The Texan said that as long as Gingrich wants the job, “he will be enthusiastically re-elected.”
Armey was put at the center of GOP dissatisfaction over Gingrich last week after he failed to defend the speaker at a news conference, let Republican dissidents use his office for a meeting and said he was not obligated to go along with the balanced-budget agreement worked out between the White House and Republican leaders Gingrich and Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott.
Armey said his comment on the budget “was a foolish statement made at a time when I was very frustrated with a group of reporters who wouldn’t get focused on the important work that we were doing.”
Armey said he and Gingrich, who plots long-term strategy while Armey is in charge of day-to-day operations of the House, “are getting along great.”