Bill Steigerwald

Newt Gingrich isn’t saying yet whether he’ll run for president in 2008. But the former speaker of the House, architect of the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994 and author of the updated "21st Century Contract With America" is acting suspiciously like a candidate.

As a visit to his dense, deep Web site shows, the conservative idea man is cranking out books, white papers, Webcasts, radio commentaries and offering policy solutions to everything from health care and lousy education in inner-city schools to immigration and Iraq. I talked to Gingrich Thursday by telephone as he was being driven to the airport in Washington:

Q: If you were helping President Bush draft the State of the Union address for this Tuesday, what would you want him to stress?
A: Well, I’d want him to stress that we face very significant challenges and that it is going to take the American people pulling together to find solutions to these challenges.

Q: These challenges include immigration, energy policy, education ...
A: You’d have to start with Iraq, because you can’t have the conversation until it gets past Iraq. Then you’d have to talk about the general war on terror and the real threat of Iran and North Korea. Then you’d have to talk about immigration and controlling the border. Then you’d have to talk about energy and the need for a national strategy for energy independence that’s also better for the environment. Then you’d have to talk about the changes you’re going to need to be able to compete head-on with China and India and create jobs. You’d have to talk about how we can have a better health system that has better health outcomes at lower cost. And finally, you’d have to talk about the genuine crisis of failed education and failed policies among the very poor, where we have more young African-American males going to prison than going to college.

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..