Jackie Gingrich Cushman: Dad 'Has Actually Done Things that Have Improved Our Country'

ABC News' Rick Klein reports:

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday launched a new Website as a precursor to a presidential bid, a move that brings him a step closer to the announcement that he’s widely expected to make in the coming weeks.

His daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that Gingrich is prepared to run on his record as House speaker – a tenure that included a balanced budget agreement with President Bill Clinton.

“He's exploring with the American people where we're heading, thinking very hard about running for president and really interested in hearing from the American people where we're heading to ensure American exceptionalism,” Cushman told us.

Previewing his potential campaign message, Cushman said: “You have to remember, he's the man that balanced the budget, the federal budget … So if you're looking for someone who has the experience, who has actually done things that have improved our country, clearly he has that record. And also very importantly to me, he loves this country.”

She conceded that the government shutdown of 1995-1996, though it helped bring about the balanced budget her father is so proud of, probably could have been handled better.

“I think he would admit that it was the right thing to do, but it could have been handled a little differently,” she said. “In the end the budget was balanced. So from that standpoint it was incredibly successful. What wasn’t successful was possibly he should have used a different tactic, which was we want to keep the government going, but if we have to it will get shut down. And I think some of the language could have been different.”

“And honestly he probably should have talked to the press a little less. Which might make you wonder why I'm talking to you -- but I'm a slow, I'm a slow learner. But clearly in the end he got to where we needed to be, but as we all know the process was not necessarily pretty.”

Cushman, editor of the book, The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own,” also talked about the budget battle in Wisconsin and beyond, which she frames as a choice between “liberty” and “bondage.”

“I'm on the liberty side. I think that when you actually tell people that they'll always be okay and nothing will ever happen to them, that you actually in some ways enslave them, because they can’t imagine a better future without that help. So I think we're going to have an incredibly interesting dialogue as a nation about what's most important to us.”

“Is it important to have everyone equal at the beginning, which is what we say in the Declaration of Independence? Or are we determined in the end that everyone should be equal, which is much more the socialistic model.”

Watch the full discussion with Jackie Gingrich Cushman HERE .

We also chatted with labor activist and author Amy B. Dean about Wisconsin and the stakes for the American labor movement.

Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE .

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