May 2011 Update: The former House Speaker is formally in the 2012 race. He had a rough first week as a candidate and has said that this campaign will test whether he has “the discipline and judgment to be president.” He is right about that and that is how it should be. Past personal behavior, Gingrich has shown that he has the intellect and fortitude to challenge anyone for the nomination and the presidency. We’ll see if he can compete without his campaign imploding or destroying his party’s chances in the general election.
March 2011 Update: Gingrich has had a stormy month. He confused everyone when he announced that he would have a major announcement with Gov. Nathan Deal in his homestate of Georgia (every one thought he was announcing an exploratory committee or just jump straight into a run). Turns out that he just wanted to let everyone know he was thinking seriously about running. Then, under subtle attack about his three marriages, Gingrich came out and admitted his extramarital activities that occurred when he was the Speaker (these indiscretions took place as he was chastising President Clinton for his own escapades). What made the whole thing crazy though was he said that he was so patriotic and was working so hard for the country that it caused him to get too close to his aide and have an affair…what?!?! Then with the situation in Libya, Gingrich was all for a no fly zone and American military action, then when the president moved to action, Gingrich said that there should not have been military action and that the president is prosecuting the operation in a terrible way. If Gingrich wasn’t such a beloved conservative figure and ideas generator, he would not be a serious candidate. He still may not be; time will tell.
Should Newt Gingrich pursue the Republican presidential nomination, he would enter the contest with considerable advantages. He is well know by most American voters, having served as Speaker of the House. He is recognized on both sides of the aisle as a prolific idea generator. He has a demonstrated record of cutting spending during his tenure as Speaker, and for Republicans, he has a record to stand on for standing up to a Democratic president. I can only think of two issues that could cause trouble for Mr. Gingrich. First, he may not represent the generational matchup that Republicans might want to create in 2012 (he would be 69 on Inauguration Day 2013). Second, he is on his third wife. Some may not have a problem with that, but Republican primary voters are more religiously conservative than the general electorate and it may strike some as hypocritical for a party that increasingly stresses the importance of family values to nominate someone who does not seem to live those values. The importance all these things will be for voters to decide. I think that Newt Gingrich is a bright, energetic and politically savvy individual who would make a formidable opponent to President Obama.