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Spin Control

Gingrich: WA going right route on gay marriage, but people should vote it down

OLYMPIA -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich answers questions from local reporters during a press conference in the Capitol Campus press building known as the White House. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich answers questions from local reporters during a press conference in the Capitol Campus press building known as the White House. (Jim Camden)

Gingrich answers questions at an Olympia press conference.

OLYMPIA -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thinks allowing same-sex couples to marry is wrong, but the path Washington is taking to change its law is right.

Voters should have a chance to decide the issue, rather than the courts, Gingrich said. The Legislature passed, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed, a bill to allow same-sex marriage but opponents have filed a referendum that would delay the law and block it if they gather enough signatures by June 6.

"I don't agree with it. If I were voting, I'd vote no," Gingrich said during a break in meetings with Republican legislators this morning. "But at least they're doing it the right way."

During a later news conference with local reporters, the Republican presidential candidate said he's changed his mind on medical marijuana and no longer supports efforts to have the federal government reclassify the drug so it could be prescribed for certain conditions.

He did support such reclassification in the 1980s, he said, but changed his position: "I was convinced by parents who didn't want any suggestion made to their children that drugs were appropriate."

States don't have the right to pass medical marijuana laws and then allow some sort of distribution system to be set up, he added. "I think the federal government has been very clear. . . that federal law trumps state law."

Gingrich is in Washington trying to generate support for the March 3 precinct caucuses, which will feature a straw poll as well as start the process to select delegates for the Republican National Convention.  He wouldn't make a prediction on how he would do in the caucuses, other than to say he planned to get "our share of the votes."

"Enough to get delegates. Enough so people see I'm genuinely competitive," he said, adding he's trying to accomplish that by making the case he's the best opponent to President Obama based on his economic policies, energy policies and experience making major changes in Washington, D.C.

The GOP presidential nomination has so far been "a roller coaster," with a ride that is running longer than most people predicted.

"A lot of people thought Florida would be the end of the cycle. This is a much more complicated marathon than anyone would've guessed."

He hopes to do well enough in the Washington caucuses next Saturday to get some momentum for the following Tuesday, when 10 states including Idaho have caucuses or primaries.

Gingrich met with Republicans in the state House of Representatives and state Senate, and posed for photos with supporters and excited pages. He stopped briefly in front of a gaggle of national reporters to criticize Obama's latest energy plan and repeated a promise that if he's elected the nation will have gasoline at $2.50 a gallon.

He later made a stop at one of the Capitol Campus press buildings, known as the White House. Before he'd answer media questions, though, he wanted to ask one of his own. Why was it called the White House. Unlike the building in Washington, D.C., to which he aspires, it's not named for the color it's painted.

It's named for longtime Associated Press reporter John White, AP Bureau Chief Rachel LaCorte told him. And the nearby Blue House, also a press building, he asked. Not named for anyone, he was told; it's just blue.

Gingrich also had high praise for the location of  his Spokane rally, the Bing Crosby Theater: "It's a great venue."

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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