Gingrich: McCain Won't Win On Experience

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with Chip Reid on "Face The Nation." CBS

American voters will not reject Senator Barack Obama for president based on his experience but rather on his policies, says a Republican observer, who also predicted that if the GOP insists on campaigning against him on that basis they will lose.

"It won't work, it's a mistake," former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appearing on CBS's Face The Nation, said of the McCain campaign's focus on Obama's experience.

"The country may reject Senator Obama because of his relationship to Reverend Wright and his relationship to the hard left, to William Ayres, and because his policies include tax increases, and because there are some big decisions coming on energy, on education, on the court. And Senator Obama may turn out to represent a position so far to the left, the country won't tolerate it."

Gingrich discounted McCain's recent protests that Obama is not ready for the job: "Obama is a very articulate, very intelligent, Harvard law graduate, who is extraordinarily smart, and he's not going to come across in a debate like some guy who's dopey. He's going to come across as fully-prepared. He knows how to study all this stuff. He has the military advisers."

Concurrent with McCain's arguments that Obama is not prepared to be commander in chief are rumors that Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is in the running to be McCain's running mate.

Jindal, 37, is almost 10 years younger than Obama.

Gingrich doesn't see Jindal's youth as a problem, though. "You could argue that in fact Jindal's experience in the executive branch and in the legislative branch is greater than Senator Obama's experience. So it strikes me that it's going to be very hard for Obama's campaign to explain that Jindal, as a governor, who has served as an assistant secretary of health and human services, has served as a congressional staffer, has served as a congressman, is not qualified but Senator Obama is qualified."

Gingrich criticized Obama for his support of certain policies and most pointedly for his backing of this week's Supreme Court decision backing the habeus corpus rights of detainees held by the United States in a prison at Guantanamo Bay - a decision he called "worse than Dred Scott.

"He applauded this court decision. This court decision is a disaster, which could cost us a city. And the debate ought to be over whether or not you're prepared to risk losing an American city on behalf of five lawyers - it was a 5-4 decision. Five lawyers had decided that the Supreme Court counts more than the Congress and the president combined in national security.

"That ought to be a principled argument between McCain and Obama, about whether or not you're prepared to allow any random nut-case district judge, who has no knowledge of national security, to set the rules for terrorists."

(CBS)
Jindal, who also appeared on the program (left), also said that policies, rather than race or even age, would be the determining factors for voters.

"I think that [race] will be a topic that will be speculated and talked and written about quite a bit," he told host Chip Reid. "But people try to make my family's background an issue in my election. The reality is, that's not what voters care about. Let's give the American voters more credit. They're worried about rising energy prices. They're worried about overseas threats. They're worried about the cost of health care. They're worried about the economy, the jump in the unemployment rate.

"A candidate's background, it's interesting; it may make you take a second look, but you really are looking for who's the most qualified, whose values, whose opinions, whose policies you agree with."


Read the full "Face the Nation" transcript here.
  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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