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Georgia Mixed Over Gingrich’s Move

November 7, 1998

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) _ Newt Gingrich’s announcement that he would not seek another term as speaker of the House of Representatives was met with dismay and disappointment in his home district, which returned him to Congress with 71 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

``It’s too bad. I wish he would stay,″ said Chris Lasiter, a 27-year-old psychiatric counselor. ``It seems they need new blood. Wish it wasn’t Gingrich that had to go.″

Lasiter and a group of others watched the news on CNN while they waited for a table at a mall restaurant not far from the spot where Gingrich held a victory party Tuesday night.

Marty Wildes, 30, a computer programmer, had heard the news about the Republican speaker’s resignation statement but preferred to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

``I don’t believe it. He’s done too much. He’s going to be there for a long time. I want to hear Newt say something,″ Wildes said.

But Gingrich was keeping to himself. He was at his district office here until about 7:30 p.m., when he left without talking to a horde of reporters outside.

Later, about a half-dozen television and radio crews gathered outside his comparatively modest home in upscale eastern Cobb County were asked by his campaign spokesman, Mike Shields, to leave.

Shields said Gingrich would comment on his plans regarding his House seat ``when it’s appropriate.″

Durwood Davis, 70, of Marietta, said Gingrich had handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal ``as well as can be expected″ and should not take the fall for GOP candidates losing seats in Congress.

``I’m very disappointed,″ said Mike Weaver, a 43-year-old consultant. ``I thought he had great presidential possibilities. I think he was more moderate than he thought he was.″

Weaver said he hoped Gingrich, who represents the Sixth District north of Atlanta, was preparing himself to run for president.

``That way, he doesn’t get caught up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal,″ he said.

Lorraine Barlett, 40, a lawyer said she believed Gingrich was ``letting the state down.″

Charlie Owens said he took the resignation as a sign that ``he’s finally fed up.″

``I think he finally threw his hands up and said to hell with it. You’ve got a president that gets away with anything. The moral fiber of this country is gone,″ said Owens, a 45-year-old construction superintendent.

Not everyone was unhappy with the news.

``This is the best thing that’s ever happened to the country. Good riddance,″ said Marty Smith, 37, a black sales representative from Marietta.

Another black, leasing consultant Reginald Reed, 27, said he had ``never been a Newt fan.″

``He wanted to be president too bad. He’s one of those very strong individuals who doesn’t like to compromise for the good of all people _ only those in a high tax bracket,″ Reed said.

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