WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told New York Republicans Thursday morning that Donald Trump, with his communication abilities and rejection of political norms, “has the potential to be the most effective change agent that we have seen in the presidency in a very long time.”
Speaking at the state GOP’s inaugural breakfast, Gingrich said Trump’s unpredictability means the only certainty about his first days as president is that he’ll “show up and give an inaugural speech” Friday.
“But I can’t tell you what he’s going to do Saturday, because he can’t tell you what he’s going to do Saturday,” Gingrich said, prompting laughter from a crowd that included state and county party leaders and elected officials.
Gingrich, a former Republican presidential candidate who was a Trump campaign adviser, largely used his 17-minute speech to analyze the often-inscrutable president-elect. He called Trump “remarkably smart and remarkably aggressive,” but said he’s more driven by intuition than a structured plan.
“He goes to an opportunity or a problem as it emerges,” Gingrich said. “He imposes his will, his intelligence, his creativity, and then goes onto the next one.”
Gingrich called Trump a hybrid of two former presidents and a famed promoter: “One-third Andrew Jackson as a disrupter, one-third Theodore Roosevelt for pure energy, and one-third P.T. Barnum for ‘selling’ all day.”
Gingrich hit many themes familiar to Trump supporters, such as criticizing the news media and Washington political establishment for not understanding the majority of Americans.
Gingrich said Trump should “overhaul” the nation’s intelligence system after the leak of an unverified memo alleging that Russians had compromising information about Trump.
Gingrich also explained, in detail, how he thought Trump’s media strategy since the earliest days of his campaign has made him “the greatest new innovator of communication.”
By setting the day’s agenda with early morning tweets, followed by a string of television interviews and rallies that were televised live, Trump gained millions of dollars in free media exposure while his opponents “were running around doing fundraisers trying to raise enough money to buy an ad that could be run in between his interviews.
“The lesson here to the New York party: constant noise wins,” Gingrich said.
Also at the breakfast, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said he wants to hear more details of Trump’s vision in Friday’s inaugural speech.
“He’s proven himself to be very adept at picking the right people … and doing things that are unexpected,” Flanagan said. “He’s got all the makings to do a great job. What I want to hear is great vision.”