WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich, breaking his self-imposed silence, predicted yesterday that Republicans, despite their low standing in recent polls, would gain 15 to 25 House seats and four to seven Senate seats in the November elections, and that Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole would defeat President Clinton.
Appearing on a live TV interview show for the first time in five months, Gingrich tossed off predictions and opinions on a variety of issues. He also said that:
Congress would pass a welfare reform bill this year and vote on Clinton's proposed increase in the minimum wage as an amendment to that bill.
The House would pass legislation curtailing federal affirmative action programs.
Congress would send Clinton an immigration reform package that would permit California to close public school doors to children of illegal immigrants.
Gingrich, who had muzzled himself during the GOP primary election season so that his statements would not distract from the campaign, came back fighting, with acerbic comments aimed at politicians of both parties.
Appearing on "Face the Nation" on CBS News, the Georgia Republican said that Clinton had sought to "deliberately misinform" people about Republican proposals to trim the growth of the Medicare program.
When he was reminded that Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, a New York Republican and a critic of his leadership, had recently predicted that there would be no vote on the minimum wage, Gingrich called D'Amato "just wrong. I don't know why he's wandering around saying these things."
On the minimum wage, which Clinton is seeking to raise from $4.25 an hour to $5.15 in two annual steps of 45 cents each, Gingrich said there should at least be some kind of exception or cost offset for small businesses.
"My recommendation is going to be that it be part of the welfare reform bill and the Medicaid reform bill," Gingrich said.
Gingrich announced in December that he was staying away from TV cameras, acknowledging that his confrontational style and habit of shooting from the hip might be contributing to negative reactions to the GOP agenda.
Pub Date: 5/06/96