Steve Pope  /  AP
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) says the thought of Califonria's Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) being third in line to the presidency is frightening.
updated 8/31/2006 10:00:11 AM ET 2006-08-31T14:00:11

Ex-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that the thought of California Rep. Nancy Pelosi becoming the next leader of the House and being third in line to the presidency is frightening.

"The prospect of her bringing San Francisco values and a whole attitude on foreign policy that is, I think, an attitude of weakness and appeasement and surrender, I think, would be a disaster for the country," the outspoken Republican said.

Gingrich said keeping power out of the hands of Pelosi, the House minority leader, and other Democrats is one of the reasons he was in South Carolina this week raising money for the GOP.

On Wednesday, Gingrich was at a fundraiser for Ralph Norman, the White House's chosen opponent for U.S. Rep. John Spratt, the 5th District Democrat who is Pelosi's assistant minority leader.

To suggest that "any Democrat is for appeasement is ridiculous" and "shows how desperate the Republicans are," Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said. "We know we have a dangerous world out there," he said, but "fear-mongering is not helpful to the situation."

World War Three
The former Georgia congressman said he wakes up every day worried about national security and the potential loss of U.S. cities to nuclear attacks.

"If you think, as I do, that we're in the early stages of an emerging third world war, the world is truly dangerous on a scale that I think, in a worst case, could lead to losing several American cities to nuclear weapons in our lifetime," he said.

Gingrich, who says his decision on seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 will wait until late next year, says there are plenty of reasons to worry about nuclear bombs destroying U.S. cities.

"Start with the North Korean drive to get nuclear weapons and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), then go to the Iranian drive to get nuclear weapons, then go to the fact that Pakistan has probably between 50 and 100 nuclear weapons with an unstable dictatorship," he said. Then, look at al-Qaida's willingness to "kill as many Americans as they can find" and Iran's recruitment of suicide bombers, he said.

"If you have active, overt enemies who are religiously different and who believe that killing you would be a good thing in their religious terms and they're willing to die in order to kill you," Gingrich said, "how hard is it to imagine a suicide bomber willing to walk in with a nuclear weapon?"

Regime replacement
To deal with the threat, he said, "we want to replace the North Korean regime. We want to replace the Iranian regime and the Syrian regime. We would like to replace them without using military force if we can."

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Last week, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., was in Greenville and touched on nuclear threats in an interview.

Biden, who is seeking his party's nomination in 2008, said the Bush administration is getting diplomacy wrong on dealing with those threats. Iran, he said, is a decade-away threat but North Korea is far more urgent.

"The prospects of Iran having a deliverable nuclear weapon that can endanger U.S. interests in the region or here in the next foreseeable future is very, very, very low," Biden said.

With time, the United States has options from diplomacy to political changes within Iran, Biden said. But the Bush administration isn't talking directly with Iran or North Korea, he said.

"Since when was America was so weak that we have to fear talk?" Biden said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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