WASHINGTON — PRESIDENT Bush will get 65 percent of the vote in the Georgia primary on Tuesday, House minority whip Newt Gingrich predicted at a Monitor breakfast yesterday.
But, the conservative Georgia Republican added, the best way for Bush to fight his primary opponent, Pat Buchanan, is to lead. "To campaign as the incumbent presidential party is to govern," said Congressman Gingrich, who is Bush's honorary campaign chairman in Georgia.
Gingrich disagreed with some Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Connie Mack, who have called on Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady to resign over that department's perceived role in hindering an economic recovery.
Though he agreed with the analysis, and accused the new commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service of "targeting small business," he defended Bush's right to have the Cabinet secretaries he wants.
On the Buchanan threat, Gingrich pegged the conservative commentator's real support - those who don't vote for him just as protest - at about 8 percent of Republicans. "It is revealing that not a single elected conservative that I know of anywhere in the country has endorsed Buchanan, and that anybody you would list as a serious national conservative spokesman is actively campaigning for George Bush," he said.
Gingrich said Bush's biggest problem in Georgia is with young, male conservatives. But their support of Operation Desert Storm, and Buchanan's opposition to it, helps the President.
Assessing the Democratic presidential field, Gingrich said Bill Clinton would have done better in the Georgia primary if it had been held in early January than he will on Tuesday.
Georgians like Paul Tsongas's "candor," Gingrich says, but "he's not one of us."
Overall, he says, "I think the Democrats are electable. I believe the Democratic nominee will by the end of the process be a surprisingly effective person, or he wouldn't have been nominated. The process, which I think is actually pretty healthy, of not having an immediate front-runner, but instead having to work their way to nomination, actually will strengthen the final nominee. They will be better known, they will be more tested, their skills and their teamwork will be better...."
"This is a brand new era. We don't have anti-communism holding our coalition together automatically."