Eye of Newt
03-06-2009
You may have come across a link to this news item today, which reports that Newt Gingrich will seriously consider a run for the presidency in 2012. You’ll recall that the former Speaker of the House flirted with a late entry into the Republican primaries in the Fall of 2007, but the conditions he set for entry into the race never materialized. Since then, he’s been largely mum about his own presidential ambitions.
 
You probably know the famous saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Well, Newt abhors a vacuum, too. A leadership vacuum, that is. Come post-2010 midterm election time, if Gingrich perceives a continued void in Republican leadership, then my guess is he will try to fill that vacuum by getting into the race early this time.  Gingrich has taken great pains in recent years to recalibrate his public image as being more policy wonk and less ideologue. In fact, he now more often than not speaks the language of management consultants, with its focus on the need for solutions.
 
I think the biggest limitation to a Gingrich candidacy is that he only helps the Republican Party get halfway to where it must go. I have been critical of party elites for obsessing over a return to core conservative principles, without explaining how those ideas might manifest themselves as innovative and workable policy proposals. Gingrich could certainly help the party with this first task. But the party also needs to find a way to get beyond its own base, in order to reach the millions of moderate voters it would need to win back the White House. Given his long and controversial history as a conservative firebrand, this second task would be a much bigger challenge for Gingrich to overcome. And, Democrats would be more than happy to provide voters with a trip down memory lane.


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