Newt Gingrich, serious this time, mulls a bid for president
By Paul West
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT)
But this time could be different. Gingrich has said he's more inclined to run than not, and some longtime associates think he might. If so, he would bring an oversized personality and biting tongue to a crowded
It would also be further evidence that party professionals aren't just spouting platitudes when they describe the 2012 Republican race as unusually wide open.
This time, "the situation's objectively very different," Gingrich said in a brief interview after addressing 250 party activists Thursday night in
"The potential to launch a new generation of ideas and to draw a very dramatic contrast is much greater," Gingrich said. "You couldn't do that in the shadow of the (George W.) Bush presidency."
Or as the title of his new book puts it, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine."
Gingrich's camp sees another difference this time, after surveying the Republican field: a vacuum.
Many in the hierarchical
The other potential leader of the Republican pack, supernova
So does Gingrich: His ability to command attention is proven, but his appeal as a presidential contender is not. Some Republican politicians call him easy to like but hard to love.
But if the warm response he drew as a potential candidate in
Along with dinner, they got a taste of vintage Gingrich in the stump speech he road-tested campaigning for fellow Republicans this year. At a time of economic despair, he's promoting "a
In characteristically grandiose terms, he blames the nation's ills on his longtime collection of villains. They include, in his words, the leftist news media, the
To that list he has added millions of new culprits: ordinary Americans who would rather draw an unemployment check than find a job.
"I'm opposed to giving people money for doing nothing," he said to loud applause from the Carolina Republicans.
Comparing unemployment benefits to welfare, a system he worked with former President
His attacks on the nation's elites and calls to "take this country back" from President
But they aren't alone. Party professionals were impressed with the extent of his 2010 midterm election efforts. He traveled extensively to key states and donated to candidates through his political action committee. In the leadoff state of
Gingrich appears to have strengthened his political operation, which gives him the potential to finance and organize a campaign, even as he expands a personal conglomerate of think tanks, grass-roots organizations and a film production company run by
"I'm in a much different position in my own life," said Gingrich, who converted to his wife's Catholicism last year. They're about to promote their movie "Nine Days That Changed the World," about
He's also reached the stage in life where it looks like it's now or never for a
"I have the same challenge Reagan had," said Gingrich, who would be 69 in 2012. Reagan, the oldest man to become president, was 69 when he was elected in 1980.
In opinion surveys of Republican voters, Gingrich ranks near the top among prospective candidates. But at this stage, poll numbers tend to reflect little more than name identification, not the chances of getting nominated or elected.
Frequent appearances on
"We need to get the country working and stop putting people on the dole," said the 72-year-old retiree, who drove 90 minutes from his home in the
The last time Gingrich talked about running for president — before opting out a few months before the 2008 primaries — he was candid enough to acknowledge that being seen as "potentially available" for a presidential campaign is a reliable way to get media attention.
This time, he said, becoming a candidate wouldn't be about selling more books, getting coverage of his speeches or promoting his ideas in the fast-expanding calendar of primary debates, including several scheduled over the next six months.
"I would never run unless I thought I could win," he said. "If we decide to do this, it'll be because we think it's real."
Gingrich led the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and, as speaker, achieved a rare degree of celebrity for a legislator. He wound up quitting the House after Republicans were set back in the 1998 midterm election.
Gingrich said he'll discuss a 2012 run with his extended family at the
He'll make a public announcement of his decision, he said, "by the end of February, probably."
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