Transcript: Missed the speech? Read it here.
Loan Terms: A sweetheart deal? Evaluate the details yourself.
Gingrich's FAQs: The release from speaker's office
Player Profile: Newt Gingrich
Voter's Voice: What do you think of the Dole loan?
Bulletin Boards: Join the debate on Gingrich's decision.
In Other News: Reno defends her independent counsel decision; White House hosts child development conference.
Many On Capitol Hill Give Thumbs-Up To Gingrich Loan Plan
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 17) -- Not surprisingly, most Republicans are applauding House Speaker Newt Gingrich's decision to pay off his $300,000 ethics penalty with a loan from former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole, Gingrich critics are deriding it, and the White House is staying mum.
But many Democrats who hadn't been in the limelight as Gingrich attackers are also supporting the speaker's decision.
Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), suggested that President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore could take a page from Gingrich's book.
Some of the most vociferous criticism of Gingrich's plan came from House Democrats David Bonior of Michigan and George Miller of California.
Bonior, the House Democratic whip, held his fire for several hours before letting loose in the middle of the afternoon.
Bonior said Gingrich "wants to borrow the money from a former politician who recently signed on with one of the largest lobbying firms in Washington."
"So isn't it ironic that Newt Gingrich is attempting to put his ethic problems behind him with a plan that requires a whole new investigation by the ethics committee?" Bonior asked. (320K wav sound)
Bonior, who has taken on the role of Gingrich's chief Democratic tormentor, sketched out some areas he said the ethics panel will have to address:
Bonior raised these questions, and said he will take no action until the House ethics committee decides whether the Gingrich loan proposal meets the spirit of their intended penalty.
Miller focused on Dole's new connection with the tobacco industry. "We now have the chief lobbyist for big tobacco financing the payoff of the speaker's fine for lying to the Congress," he said. (320K wav sound)
Meanwhile, the Clinton Administration is stepping gingerly around the issue. "No reaction from the White House on that subject," said Press Secretary Mike McCurry. Other White House officials say they have no desire to interfere, sensing that anything they say probably would only backfire.
The reaction of Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.) was typical of those in her party. "I'm proud of the speaker, I'm proud to be associated with him, I'm proud to be part of his leadership team. He did not have to pay this reimbursement for legal services, but he has chosen to do that to set a new standard," Dunn said. (320K wav sound)
And House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas said of Gingrich, "He's taken the moral high ground to show how his opponents have taken the moral low ground."
But even Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) joked, "I have a call in to Bob Dole for a loan myself. The Bob Dole Loan Company is one with deep pockets. There's no reason why there shouldn't be other ways for him to help his party. I don't see anything necessarily improper with it." (More reactions)
RNC Chairman Nicholson called on Clinton, Gore and the Democratic National Committee to return "the millions they admit came from illegal and inappropriate sources."
In a statement, Nicholson said, "House Speaker Newt Gingrich is taking his medicine -- although I have to say this is like administering chemotherapy for a head cold. Nevertheless, it's laudable that the Speaker has come to the conclusion that he has a moral obligation to reimburse taxpayers in full for legal expenses and costs incurred as part of an investigation that should not have been necessary.
"Now that Newt has done the right thing, I want to call on President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and the Democratic National Committee to follow the Speaker's example."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Carin Dessauer contributed to this report.
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