The Associated Press
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. ִ If the government thing doesn't work, maybe Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole can try their hand at standup comedy.
Senator Dole, of course, is renowned for his always-funny, often-caustic jokes. The Republican romp in the midterm elections has only added to his material.
Speaking to a Republican Governors Association meeting Tuesday, Dole took note of the less-than-fashionable floral shirt President Clinton was photographed wearing during his recent trip to Indonesia to discuss trade with Asian leaders.
"If you have to wear those kinds of shirts, I'm not sure I'm going to run," quipped Dole, a prospective 1996 GOP presidential candidate.
Dole's presidential ambitions also factored into a friendly poke at Newt Gingrich, who will be second in the line of succession to the presidency once he becomes House speaker in January, and who has been getting more than his share of media coverage since the elections.
"I generally follow Newt these days on these TV shows," Dole said. "He's in line to be president. I'm not sure what I'm in line to be."
Gingrich, too, made a joke about his high profile these days.
He said his mother called to tell him "she thinks I'm overexposed," but he promised the governors he would be dropping out of sight soon to take a vacation with his family.
"I won't be bothering you
except on reruns," Gingrich said.
As the first GOP speaker in 40 years, Gingrich doesn't have anyone to talk to about what the job entails. So he says he's been reading a book about Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, the last Republican speaker, back in 1954.
One luxury Martin had, Gingrich noted, is that the House proceedings weren't televised then.
Now, with little time to prepare for his new job, Gingrich said his every move will be captured by the cameras. "Now my mother is going to call, 'Why did you do that?'" he said.
Dole and Gingrich weren't the only two in a joking mood at the meeting.
Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour told the GOP governors that Republicans had benefited from a tsunami in the elections.
"Tsunami, by the way, is a Japanese word," Barbour said. "It means we beat the Democrats' brains out."
Barbour reached back a few years for another stab at humor.
Late in the campaign, he noted, there was speculation of a sudden Democratic surge. But he said it was nothing more than a hectic flush.
"Hectic flush is an old medical term," Barbour explained. "Back when folks used to die of consumption, it was very common for them to rally before they died. They'd look better and feel better, be lucid and speak to everybody. . Then they'd die. The Democrats had a hectic flush just before Election Day.'"
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