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A blunt Newt Gingrich on Blago, Palin, and Limbaugh

By Dave Cook / February 2, 2009

upi/newscom

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday offered blunt commentary about former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and past and present US Treasury secretaries.

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Mr. Gingrich, a one-man idea factory for the Republican Party, was the guest at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters. He arrived in multitasking mode, emerging from a shiny black Cadillac SUV, holding a cellphone to one ear and thumbing the controls of a BlackBerry held in his other hand.

Blago: the tip of a corruption iceberg

Rod Blagojevich was one stop on Gingrich’s tour of the political horizon. Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor impeached last week in part for apparent efforts to sell Barack Obama’s US Senate seat, “is simply the tip of an iceberg of systemic corruption across this country that is breathtaking,” Gingrich said. “You look at Springfield, you look at Albany, N.Y., you look at Trenton, [N.J.]. You look at Sacramento, [Calif.]. These places are increasingly corrupt,” he said.

Gingrich also argued that President Obama was ill-advised to take on conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. The president told congressional leaders of both parties that “you can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” In the former speaker’s view, “presidents are well served to deal with historic patterns because it makes them feel presidential. I can’t imagine the net advantage of the newly elected president of the United States – with 70 percent approval – picking a fight with a guy who will absolutely profit from the fight.”

Palin: Formidable if prepared

Alaska's Governor Palin, John McCain’s running mate in 2008, could be “very formidable” as a presidential candidate in 2012, Gingrich said. But he stipulated that would be the case only if she “seeks out a group of sophisticated policy advisers” and “spends time developing a series of fairly sophisticated positions.” He noted that “Palin starts in Iowa with a substantial advantage. I think she has a very big base among the fundamentalist wing of the party.”