Gingrich gambles in bid to catch Romney

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Pushing new ideas for conservative governance and congressional reform, Gingrich led the 1994 Republican revolution that put his party in control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Four years later, after overreaching in his battles with President Bill Clinton and even some fellow Republicans, Gingrich was dumped from leadership. He soon left Congress.

Since then he has lectured, written books, made documentaries and earned millions of dollars as a consultant to organizations, including Freddie Mac, a backer of thousands of home mortgages.

Eyeballs sometimes roll when Gingrich cites his books, college degrees and big-thinking proclivities. But he's rarely dull. On Tuesday he detailed why he thinks the United States should follow Chile's model of making Social Security accounts private for workers.

"It has increased the economy, increased the growth of jobs, increased the amount of wealth, and it dramatically solves Social Security without a payment cut and without having to hurt anybody," Gingrich said.

Cain, who struggled to break through in Tuesday's foreign-policy-focused debate, also has hailed the Chilean model, but in less detail than Gingrich.

Reviews from Chileans are more mixed than Gingrich suggests. But any talk of privatizing Social Security runs risks in this country. That's especially true in general elections, when Democrats and independents vote.

Americans soundly rejected Bush's bid to partly privatize the government retirement program just after his 2004 reelection as president. Many Republicans have avoided the subject ever since, or at least addressed it more gently than Gingrich.


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