Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will announce on Wednesday he is campaigning for the GOP nod to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential elections.
Gingrich, who is pro-life, plans to make an announcement via Facebook and Twitter — the social networking outlets that have become so crucial for organizing, fundraising and campaigning in the modern era. He will then, according to a Washington Post report, interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox news Channel with a more traditional announcement via the popular cable news network.
Then, he will follow the interview with a formal speech before the Georgia Republican party convention on Friday, in the state that elected him to Congress and from which he was elevated to the Speaker position leading the House of Representatives after the 1994 mid-term election that saw Republicans re-take Congress from Democrats for the first time in decades. Since he retired from Congress, Gingrich has become something of a top policy wonk within he Republican Party and his organization American Solutions has put out extensive policy proposals on economic and foreign policy issues and to raise money for conservative political causes.
Gingrich has been putting together the nucleus of a presidential campaign for months and, in February, launched a “testing the waters” operation that allowed him to begin more formally preparing for a presidential run.
Gingrich’s entry in the race would come after former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty former exploratory committees. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman are looking at presidential bids as well. Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, businessman Herman Cain, former presidential hopeful Ron Paul and former governors Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer are examining presidential bids as well.
Most polls have Gingrich, along with Huckabee, Romney and former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin as the top four among Republican voters both nationally and in several early primary states.
Gingrich maintained a very strong pro-life voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee, and has said the Republican Party needs to be pro-life.
“I think we’re clearly a pro-life party,” he once said. “We had a vice presidential nominee who was pro-life. I don’t see [this] as a significant change. I think that it is continuity in how this party has evolved over the last 30 years.”
“I think that abortion should not be legal,” he told American View. “Abortion is a very, very important moral question and I think it’s a very important question about the very nature of society. And I think that in terms of voting on the issue and speaking on the issue I’ve been pretty clear in my entire career. I did cite at the beginning of the book, that I think that people who are not certain how they feel about “right to life,” have in fact been coming our way.”
“There should be [legal protection for unborn children,],” Gingrich added. “And I think the focus has been on doctors performing abortions. And in that sense that we want to move the society as rapidly as we can that people should select adoption rather than abortion and that choosing abortion is not acceptable.”
The former Speaker became something of a national hero and top Republican figure after he led the House. However, Gingrich’s personal life has given some conservative and Christian voters pause. He also upset conservative Republicans with some endorsements of liberal Republican candidates.
Yet, conservative political columnist Matt Lewis says Gingrich shouldn’t be dismissed and could surprise some political observers.
“With reports that former Speaker Newt Gingrich is set to soon announce an exploratory committee for a presidential run, a lot of folks are already dismissing his chances — some even saying that Obama should be so lucky as to have Gingrich win the nomination (though they don’t expect he could even win a primary),” he writes. “But underestimating Gingrich’s chances — especially in light of a likely weak GOP primary field — would be a mistake for several reasons.”
“First, Gingrich has ideas — and at the end of the day, politics is still about ideas. What is more, unlike some leaders, Newt can also communicate his ideas,” Lewis writes. “In a one-on-one format, my money’s on Gingrich to at least hold his own — and, at best, to dominate his opponent.”
“And Gingrich has something else that is vital: energy,” he continues. “Energy is vital on a grueling campaign trail where hitting dozens of breakfast spots in places like Manchester, N.H., can be tedious. Some candidates (like Bill Clinton) actually seemed to gain energy from the throngs, while most are just flat worn out by them. One gets the sense that Gingrich is more like the former (though the real test will be whether he has the patience to suffer fools with a smile).”
“But aside from all that, Gingrich also has a proven track record of success that no other Republican can come close to matching,” Lewis concludes. “There is no doubt Gingrich has plenty of baggage (both personal and political) that would come up in a campaign. But my argument is that ideas, energy, and a proven track record of success can cover a multitude of sins.”