WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party is in serious danger of losing political ground in November elections if it does not enact reforms that eliminate waste and hold the federal bureaucracy to higher standards, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Sunday.
``I think they're in very serious danger of having a very bad election this fall,'' Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday. ``You have to respect the right of the American people to say they want change,'' he said, criticizing the federal government's bungled efforts to cope with Hurricane Katrina and the Republican-led Congress' failure to enact immigration reforms.
``Are they going to learn some lessons and get their act together?'' Gingrich asked. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 231-201 in the House and have a 55-44 advantage in the Senate. The former representative from Georgia said the ``debacle'' over measures to strengthen U.S. borders and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants ``was one more piece of the puzzle'' for many voters who have lost faith in Republican leadership.
``The country absolutely wants control of the borders,'' Gingrich said. ``The country absolutely wants us to insist that becoming an American citizen requires that you passed a test in English.'' A well-designed guest worker program would have the support of 75 percent to 80 percent of the American people, he said. With the federal budget deficit at record levels, Gingrich said Americans are losing patience with ``pork,'' the discretionary spending earmarked to benefit local political constituencies. ``We were sent here to reform Washington, not to be co-opted by Washington,'' he said.