LYNN NEARY, Host:
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Coming up, a few tips on how to weather the economic storm. But first, even the most stalwart Republican will concede that the GOP is suffering a crisis of leadership. With the defeat of John McCain in the presidential race and Democratic gains in the House and Senate, the question is who's going to lead the party as it tries to reinvent itself? Some suggest it should be the leader of a previous Republican revolution, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And Mr. Gingrich joins us now to discuss the future of the GOP. Good morning. Good to have you with us.
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, it's good to be with you.
NEARY: Well, I know you have said that you don't want to be chairman of the RNC, but there's been something of a "Draft Newt" movement in the party. What would it take to lure you in?
GINGRICH: And I wouldn't want to divert my time and energy away from these two very, very important initiatives because I think there are actually - I think we need new ideas much more dramatically and much more deeply than we need just organizational leadership at the RNC.
NEARY: Yeah. During a meeting of Republican governors in Miami this week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said that voters "fired us with cause." Would you agree with him?
GINGRICH: And it's probably worth Washington looking at what is it they're doing right? Well, they're cutting spending. They're cutting taxes. They have an attitude that is favorable to business rather then trying to harass it and destroy it. And as a result, they've both done very well in creating jobs for their citizens and increasing the tax base of the state by a bigger economy.
NEARY: Well, it was also pointed out this week in Miami that the party is ill-suited to serve a changing America, is how it was described there. So, what do Republicans need to do to attract a more diverse group of voters? And should that be a focus of the party's attention?
GINGRICH: I think you can make a good argument that the current Democratic politics of Detroit have been a disaster for the human beings, for the people who are trapped in that system. But no Republican is in the middle of that fight, you know, making the case that there's a better future and there's a way to solve the problem. And I think you've got to start by being willing to go out and actually represent everyone everywhere.
NEARY: Well, certainly one thing that the election showed was that there are some divisions within this party. I mean, how do you go about reconciling those divisions for the future?
GINGRICH: A New England Republican Party will be different in tone and in issues that it focuses on than a Republican Party in Georgia or Texas. And our national leadership has to grow up and recognize that we need the whole country and we need strong, aggressive Republican Parties in all 50 states, not just in the ones that are easy - you know, the so-called red states. I think a base-focused plan, a base mobilization plan, is inherently a strategy for self-destruction.
NEARY: You know, at the governors' meeting, there were names like Palin, Jindal, Crist coming up as the rising stars. Are there other figures out there, less prominent, who are poised to...
GINGRICH: But in addition, there are stars in the Congress. I think as the administration leaves town and its people begin to look directly at the Republicans in Congress, you're going to find in the House members like Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor, who are clearly the next generation of leaders with big ideas, with real creativity.
NEARY: Thank you so much, Mr. Gingrich. We're out of time. Thanks for joining us this morning. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
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