Gingrich exploring 2012 presidential bid

ATLANTA Thu Mar 3, 2011 6:40pm EST

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a press conference as his wife, Callista Gingrich, looks on in Atlanta, Georgia, March 3, 2011. Gingrich on Thursday edged toward becoming the first big-name Republican to challenge President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. REUTERS/Johnny Crawford/Atlanta Journal-Constitution THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a press conference as his wife, Callista Gingrich, looks on in Atlanta, Georgia, March 3, 2011. Gingrich on Thursday edged toward becoming the first big-name Republican to challenge President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Credit: Reuters/Johnny Crawford/Atlanta Journal-Constitution THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Related Topics

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday edged toward becoming the first big-name Republican to challenge President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Gingrich, known for budget battles with President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s, said he would explore a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the weeks ahead.

"We are excited about exploring whether there is sufficient support for my potential candidacy for president of this exceptional country," Gingrich and his wife, Callista, said on newtexplore2012.com.

He stopped short of announcing a formal presidential exploratory committee. That gives him time to work out his extensive business affairs before becoming a formal candidate.

Gingrich's tiptoe closer to a race reflected the slow pace of the Republican campaign to decide who will challenge Obama in 2012. No prominent Republican has yet made the plunge, although several are close to announcements in the weeks and months ahead.

While Republicans won big in November congressional elections, most agree that it will be difficult to unseat Obama particularly if the U.S. jobless rate shows improvement from its current 9 percent.

Gingrich, 67, should be considered a "long shot" because some evangelical voters are wary of the fact that he was twice divorced before his current marriage, said Merle Black, political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

"Gingrich has a lot of political talent. He can make succinct arguments and criticisms. But he has had a lot of problems in the past with indiscipline ... and in a presidential campaign that can be a big problem," Black said.

SPENDING FIGHT

Gingrich, who believes Obama has saddled America with deeper debt and deficits, has flirted with a presidential race for years. He led the Republican "revolution" that took control of the House in 1994 elections and he was House speaker from 1995 to 1998.

Gingrich's Republicans shut down the government in a standoff with Clinton. Republicans were seen as losing that fight as the Democratic president was re-elected in 1996, but Gingrich argues the standoff set the stage for a 1996 budget deal that led to a big drop in spending.

Government spending is again a major bone of contention with Republicans, and the budget deficit is set to reach a record $1.65 trillion this year.

Gingrich is now chairman of American Solutions, a group that advances conservative causes, and has been traveling frequently to the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to test the waters.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lead with field among Republican voters with 25 percent and 21 percent with Gingrich in third at 13 percent.

Fox News on Wednesday suspended Gingrich from his role as a paid analyst, along with former Senator Rick Santorum, because the two have been weighing a run for the Republican nomination.

A little-known candidate joined the Republican presidential fray on Thursday.

Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer said in Baton Rouge that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee to consider whether he should seek the Republican nomination.

(Writing by Steve Holland, editing by Alistair Bell)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (10)
Cru wrote:
He’s really forming a group of ghost writers for the book this faux presidential run will sell.

Mar 03, 2011 11:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
grgilmore wrote:
I would not vote for Gingrich for dog catcher. He stands by any
Republican even though that Republican is more a Democrat than a
Republican.

Mar 03, 2011 12:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
elvvis wrote:
Be it Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney or John Boehner, any of them would make perfect GOP candidates in 2012 because not one of them poses any threat to Barack Obama. Face it, the Republicans don’t have one candidate that even comes close to polling even with Barack Obama. What I would REALLY love to see is Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket! It would be a landslide for Barack! The GOP is working their way farther and farther right by the moment and soon they will fall off the edge. Keep up your circular firing squads GOP! You’re destroying yourselves much better than the Democrats could. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

Mar 03, 2011 1:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.