WASHINGTON – From a safe distance on the sidelines, Newt Gingrich on Monday attacked the lot of 2008 GOP presidential candidates, comparing Republicans to "pygmies" and calling them trained seals.
Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the conservative magazine The American Spectator and reported by The Examiner, Gingrich said he could be forced into the race if Republicans don't demonstrate leadership and it then becomes "patently obvious, as the morning paper points out, that the Democrats have raised a hundred million more than the Republicans, and at some point people decide we are going to get Hillary (Clinton) unless there's a radical change."
Gingrich said the collected group of reporters will know "by mid-October" which "one of those two futures is real."
Asked whether he could be elected, given his tumultuous turn as House speaker, Gingrich said, "This is like going to (Charles) De Gaulle when he was at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises during the Fourth Republic and saying, 'Don't you want to rush in and join the pygmies?'"
(Thanks to the rise and fall of the late French president's fortunes, Colombey, De Gaulle's home and grave site, is known metaphorically as the place to where a politician retreats before being asked to serve his country again.)
Gingrich, who Friday told The Associated Press that "I've always said it was unlikely I would run," suggested that if former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson jumps in the race and does well, it would make "it easier for me to not run."
"On the other hand," he said, "just given what you've seen with McCain the last few months, how can you predict?"
While maintaining his blasé attitude toward the 2008 election on Monday, the former Georgia congressman also took another shot at John McCain for the Arizona senator's namesake campaign finance reform law that closed the door to soft money and opened it to 527s and other independent fundraising groups.
"I have no interest in the current political process. I have no interest in trying to figure out how I can go out and raise money under John McCain's insane censorship rules so I can show up to do seven minutes and twenty seconds at some debate."
Speaking of debates, Gingrich also slammed the format and the candidates for becoming pawns to MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews.
"You're watching an utterly irrelevant, shallow television celebrity dominate everybody who claimed they want to lead the most powerful nation in the world," he said, adding that he refused to "shrink to the level of 40-second answers, standing like a trained seal, waiting for someone to throw me a fish."