House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. - known for fiery speeches against Democrats, including a scathing attack last month against Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah - gave Owens an offer he could refuse this week.

"Newt Gingrich offered to let me join the Republican Party," Owens said. The offer came as they traveled together to Kuwait.Owens said he wasn't tempted. He said simply, "I thanked him very nicely." He added that he isn't so sure that Utah Republicans would want him anyway.

Did Owens in turn offer Gingrich the chance to become a Democrat? Owens said, "No we wouldn't . . .," and cut his sentence short. Then he said more diplomatically, "We didn't offer him the opportunity of joining the Democratic Party."

Gingrich attacked Owens and four other Democrats appointed to the House Select Committee on Intelligence last month, charging Democratic leaders were trying to undermine U.S. intelligence by appointing such liberals and outspoken critics of intelligence agencies.

Owens said Gingrich told him he didn't mean to aim that attack at him, that he was more worried about Rep. Ron Dellumns, D-Mich., but that he is now also less worried about him.