Politics

Gingrich to Trump: ‘Get Back Up Off the Mat,’ Hit the Trail

Former speaker advises president to use bully pulpit to build bipartisan momentum behind agenda

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich encouraged President Donald Trump and his administration to “get back up off the mat, think through what they’ve learned, and keep moving forward” in the wake of Republicans’ failure to pass health care reform during an interview Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

Gingrich offered advice on a strategy to move forward after House GOP leaders pulled the American Health Care Act from consideration Friday when it failed to garner enough Republican support.

“They’ve got to get back up off the mat, think through what they’ve learned and keep moving forward.”

“I think from President Trump’s standpoint, there’s some big lessons to be learned out of last week. And I think he has every reason to believe he can move forward and be remarkably successful,” Gingrich said. “They’ve got to get back up off the mat, think through what they’ve learned, and keep moving forward.”

Noting that it took former President Reagan roughly eight months to pass a tax cut, 18 months for President Bill Clinton to pass welfare reform and roughly eight months for former President Obama to pass Obamacare, Gingrich said that the fact that the Trump administration “set an artificial deadline for defeat” after only two months in office “was just a mistake.”

In order to create and pass a successful piece of health care reform legislation, Gingrich recommended Trump “go to the country,” and not “the city.”

“First, you go to the country. You don’t go to the city. You make sure that the country’s for you,” Gingrich said. “When you have a bill with 17 percent, the answer is … don’t vote on the bill. That means you’ve lost the argument. So, they’ve got to develop an argument on health, which they can take to the country.”

If the Trump administration can create that strong and feasible argument that wins over the people across the country, Gingrich insisted that it would put pressure on both Republicans and vulnerable Democrats to support it.

“If they got a good argument on health … they can get North Dakota’s Sen. [Heidi] Heitkamp because she represents an entirely rural state that was overwhelmingly for Trump,” Gingrich said. “So you start with a 60-vote strategy in the Senate based on the grassroots, not based on Washington maneuvering. You have a principled bill, and you basically reach out to Democrats.”

“You know, two rallies in North Dakota would make it very hard for the senator to say no. Several rallies in Missouri would make it very hard for the senator who is up for reelection to vote no,” Gingrich added. “The same thing in Indiana, where frankly, Vice President Pence could go to hold 3-5 rallies and make it very hard for the Democrat [there] to vote no.”

The former House speaker emphasized the importance of courting the Democrats’ votes in order to create bipartisan bridges and garner overwhelming support among the voters to move the country forward cohesively.

“When we passed welfare reform, we basically split the Democrats even — 101 yes and 101 no. When Reagan passed the tax cuts, he got one out of every three Democrats in the House. But the key is not negotiating in Washington,” Gingrich said, noting that the key “is having a bill that is so clear, that is so vivid that Trump can go to the country” and tell it to those “20 and 30,000-person rallies” he draws.

“I think you have to have a totally different model than the one they used. The model they used was an insider model that allowed [Congressional Budget Office]’s fake score to matter. It allowed the Senate’s absurd rules of reconciliation to matter, and then it said to everybody, ‘Trust us,'” Gingrich said.

“Remember, this is the age of Donald Trump, who was elected because people don’t trust Washington politicians,” Gingrich added. “So saying, ‘Oh, we’ll fix it in the second and third part,’ denied everything that we know about the American people right now.”

When the “Fox & Friends” hosts asked Gingrich if he approves of the president’s plans to leave health care reform for the time being and move on to tax reform, Gingrich said, “No … I think that’s wrong.”

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“Focus on infrastructure first because you can reach out to every single Democrat on infrastructure. You can write a bipartisan bill that gets an enormous margin,” Gingrich said. “Trump ought to want a Trump majority in the House of 300-plus and a Trump majority in the Senate of 65 or so. Not a Republican majority — a Trump majority. You’ll get far further own the road by doing infrastructure next.”

If the president so chooses, he can work on tax reform simultaneously while he works on infrastructure, Gingrich suggested.

“But they should be very, very excited about infrastructure reform. It’s going to bring an amazing number of Democrats. It’s going to create jobs,” Gingrich said. “Remember, the No. 1 test for Donald Trump’s re-election is how many jobs did you create? The earlier you start in infrastructure, the earlier you’re going to be creating jobs in infrastructure, and then I would do taxes in parallel.”

But health care reform cannot be forgotten and should not be pushed back to a nebulous future date, the former House speaker warned.

“And at the same time, I would say to the House and Senate … we’re going to go the country, we’re going to fashion a brand-new bill that’s going to be the right kind of long-term health bill, and we’re going to make sure that it has 60 or 65 percent support,” Gingrich said. “Then we’re going to bring that bill to the House and Senate.”

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