Gingrich Survives, For Now

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The GOP revolt against Newt Gingrich ended in a whimper as House Republicans vowed to put their differences aside, but dissent still divides the party even at the leadership level. The uprising fizzled last night after a small group of disgruntled Republicans met for less than 20 minutes without the company of the GOP leadership to voice their disenchantment with the Speaker. The poor showing led organizers to downplay the significance of the unrest. "I don't think the Speaker is in any trouble in any sense of the term trouble. This is politics," said Lindsey Graham, who organized the gripe session. John Kasich chimed in: "Do I believe there is some serious movement against Newt Gingrich? The answer is no." Despite the temporary calm, cracks in the GOP were widening. While meeting with reporters, Majority Leader Dick Armey sidestepped many opportunities to express his support for the Speaker. Asked point-blank, "Do you think the Speaker is doing an effective job?" Armey walked away, saying, "You all have a good day." For his own part, Gingrich blamed reporters for his problems, accusing them of exaggerating a non-issue. "I was Speaker when we went into this meeting, and I came out Speaker," he said. "Seven or eight times we've gone up this hill, and seven or eight times I've come down the hill as Speaker." That may be, but a leader firmly in control shouldn't be making so many trips. If the upcoming debate on the tax cut bill goes as poorly as the flood relief fiasco, the Speaker may find himself facing an overwhelming insurrection.