Later today Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich will announce he is a candidate for President of the United States in 2012. Newt Gingrich is a formidable individual with a record which would on paper make him an ideal candidate. He is a political strategist of the first order who literally created the republican revolution of 1994 and in designing the Contract with America defined a pattern for defining a mandate and nationalizing congressional elections. Beyond his electoral success, Newt is considered one of the leading policy wonks, something many candidates clearly are not and a stream on innovative ideas on areas as diverse as health care, energy policy and new technologies. Lastly Newt is a fighter, a skill which serves any presidential candidate well.
However there are other sides to Newt Gingrich which we cannot forget and will be brought to light during the primaries which will not be so flattering. Central to these are the events surrounding his being dumped as Speaker after the 1998 congressional election by the House Republican Conference. Not only was this a reaction to the loss of seats, but to questions of policy and ethics charges which had swirled around the speaker for most of his term. Let’s remember, his removal was a direct result of Republican members, not Democrats, many of whom owed their very seats to Gingrich. While Newt has been a policy innovator without equal in Washington, it was a failure of leadership on his part not to bring his Republican colleagues along with him. Lastly we cannot overlook Newt’s admitted personal failure to live up to the family values he has made central to his political philosophy in being divorced twice and in both cases he has admitted infidelity as the cause.
While Gingrich has been out of public office since he resigned his seat in the House in 1999 he has had the opportunity to restart his political career on several occasions. With the death of Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA) in July 2000 and the appointment of Democrat Zell Miller to complete his term, Gingrich could have run for the senate in an open race he surely would have won in 2004, thus bringing his immense legislative talents to the US Senate. Alternatively he could have sought the Governors’ office in Georgia in 2002 which would have given him a platform to execute on many of his innovative ideas. Additionally running for either of these offices would have given Newt the opportunity to rehabilitate his political reputation in front of the voters of his home state. Instead he chose to go the way of life in his own Washington think tank. Many factors go into the personal choices to seek higher offices. But the bottom line is Newt Gingrich chose not to reenter electoral politics for more than a decade.
People run for President for many reasons and without question newt Gingrich has earned his place on the debate platforms and will be a serious contender for the nomination. As a former Speaker of the House of Representatives he has the political bona fides most will not be able to equal. Newt lead the conservative revolution and has always been true to his beliefs and convictions and the House Republicans would likely not have suffered the loss of direction which led to their defeat has Gingrich remained as Speaker. Yet his personal record cannot be overlooked as he now seeks the Presidency. More than a decade has passed since Gingrich last held elected office and the politics of today are very different. I truly hope no serious Republican thinks defeating Barak Obama will be easy, it will not. While President Obama has badly misread his mandate and congressional Democrats paid the price in 2010, he remains an adept politician. No incumbent President can be underestimated, especially one who has shown an uncanny ability to say one thing and do another without regret or hesitation, and who has the media as his booster club. All Republicans must keep singular focus on enduring Barak Obama becomes a private citizen ounce again on January 20th, 2013; America would be seriously harmed by a second term for this President. While Newt Gingrich has a central role to play in driving the future of the Republican Party, unfortunately it will not be as the 45th President of the United States.