Gingrich: Will he or won't he?
The long-running question of whether or not former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is going to run for president is about to be answered. Maybe.
After a confusing couple days of news, in which the permanently potential candidate's adviser, Joe Gaylord, said Gingrich would be announcing an exploratory committee at an event on Thursday, and then was refuted by his own spokesperson, who said he would not be doing so after all, Gingrich is expected to make an announcement Thursday. While he apparently will not be setting up a committee, which would make him a legal candidate, he is expected to say Thursday at a public event in Georgia that he will be starting to raise funds to begin a "serious exploratory phase" to run for president.
Um, okay. Apparently this is not just another example of Gingrich's indecisiveness--or flirtations with the media, if you choose to look at it that way--in which he comes really, really close to running for president and then decides not to, as he's done so many times in the past. Rather, there's some legal "i"s that need to be dotted and "t"s that need to be crossed before he makes an announcement about a formal exploratory committee. Like, oh, not being a paid contributor to Fox News, which abruptly suspended Gingrich (and Rick Santorum, but not Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee) yesterday. Or tying up any loose ends that are part of his complex financing network. Or working out the details of any fancy transportation he might have taken to the Georgia event.
If this all looks like unnecessary drama for what would seem to be a simple process and decision, especially for someone who's been mulling the opportunity to run for president for more than a decade, it is. While few voters are likely to be paying much attention yet to the 2012 election, "the messy start" to Newt's campaign, as Politico's Jeanne Cummings called it, could haunt him in the weeks to come. As one campaign finance attorney told Cummings, "If he utters a word now that smacks of being a presidential candidate, he's got a problem." (Once candidates enter the gray area of exploring their candidacy but haven't formally announced it, they're not suppose to advocate for themselves as president.)
Even more so, it could make things appear to potential donors or observant voters that Gingrich's team doesn't have their ducks in a row. While that might be understandable for someone who is thinking for the first time of running for president, it's hard to see how Gingrich, who's been here before, doesn't have such details sorted out by now.
Whether or not that says a whole lot about his potential leadership is questionable. If he does eventually--and finally--run, legal quirks like this will surely be overshadowed by other issues that dog Gingrich, such as his personal life or criticism by popular members of his own party that he is too harsh or alienating. In the meantime (ahem), Gingrich has one thing figured out. The will-he-or-won't-he, committee-or-no-committee, announcement-or-no-announcement back and forth is at the very least keeping him in the news.
March 3, 2011; 9:45 AM ET |
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