The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER ELEVEN Winning Re-election

BY THE WINTER of 1996, the relationship between Gingrich and Clinton had hit bottom. In addition to the bad feeling created by the budget battles, both had grown weary of the constant stream of investigation and invective hurled at each other. As Clinton had feared, Republicans used their oversight function to investigate every aspect of his presidency. The strategy was developed by the Speaker’s closest advisor, Joe Gaylord, who suggested that Republicans engage in an orchestrated effort to “indict the Clinton administration.” Specifically, he recommended that the Republicans use their “oversight function” to keep the administration on the defensive. “Change the battlefield to one where Democrats are on the defensive by attacking personal ethics, attacking individual legislative records, forcing Dems to defend Clinton administration.” Part of the plan was to put pressure on the White House to get House Democrats to back off their investigations of Gingrich. “Get the Clinton administration under special prosecutor problems and have the Clinton administration get the House Dems to back down.”1

It would seem unlikely that the party would embark on such a strategy without at least the implicit approval of the Speaker. In describing Gaylord’s role, Gingrich said earlier that he was “empowered to supervise my activities, set my schedule, advise me on all aspects of my life and career. He is my chief counselor and one of my closest friends.”2 Republican committee chairs had followed the Gaylord strategy over the past two years, hauling hundreds of government officials before investigative panels. Few presidents had faced the sheer number of inquiries as the Clinton administration. Congress called witnesses and issued subpoenas over the improper collection of FBI files by the White House, drug use in the White House, and the firing of seven White

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