WASHINGTON — Flush with confidence after returning from a multistate tour, House Speaker Newt Gingrich told reporters at a Monitor breakfast July 25 that ''you don't have to be president to have an impact.''
Mr. Gingrich marvelled at his past two day's draw in California, Iowa, and Indiana, where he says ''sold out crowds'' made him feel ''a lot like being a fairly odd animal at the county fair - everybody shows up to see what's going on.''
He reveled in his appeal: ''You have the No. 1 best-selling nonfiction book in the country, you get literally overflow crowds - obviously it's very exhilarating.... But it also proves that ... being Speaker of the House in the way that I'm the Speaker of the House ... you have an enormous impact.''
While Gingrich did not discount the possibility of a presidential run in 1996, he ribbed reporters that ''the minute I became a presidential candidate, all of you would then reopen every investigative power to have one more whack at me; I'd become dramatically less desirable overnight because ... in this business the next potential candidate is always more exciting.''
Gingrich also commented on a wide range of issues:
On the House Ethics Committee investigation of Gingrich's recent book contract, he said: Democrats are ''out to score political cheap shots.''
Whitewater: ''John Dean [of Watergate fame] comes to mind,'' he says, referring to obstruction of justice charges. ''There is substantial ground to wonder how this case has been handled from opening minutes of its discovery, and it verges on the bizarre.''
Affirmative action: ''There should be no race-based quota system or set-asides. We have an absolute obligation to reach out a helping hand on a one-by-one basis to people who are trying to rise. That makes it more of an economic than a racial matter.''
Bosnia: Through airstrikes and arming and training the Bosnians, the United States can ''eliminate most of the Serbian armor, logistics, and artillery.''
Budget: ''Spending money on education is a fiasco.... People do not believe that turning more money over to unionized public bureaucracies gets you anything.''