In case I haven’t already added former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to my burgeoning list of frequently mentioned Republican presidential hopefuls who will not be the party’s nominee in 2012, let’s make it official. I take this step now only because it was confirmed over the weekend that Gingrich is once again mulling a run for president. I have written previously about Gingrich’s limitations as a potential candidate. But I have also noted that I nonetheless expect him to be right in the thick of the selection process, not as a frontrunner, but as a party poobah with plenty of public opining about who the eventual nominee should be.
So why does Gingrich seem to go through this quadrennial mulling process election cycle after cycle? My guess is that he views it as a pragmatic means of keeping himself both relevant and highly visible in a potentially crowded field of Republican political elites. It’s sort of a quadrennial insurance policy for keeping himself at the center of attention, although I’m not sure he really needs it at this point. Last time around, Gingrich set September 2007 as his decision deadline. This time it’s February 2011, so he is giving himself a little more lead time into the first 2012 primaries and caucuses, should he actually decide to run.
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that each time Gingrich takes up the question of a presidential run, he sets conditions for his entrance into the race that are unlikely to be met, given the dynamics of how candidates typically build their campaigns nowadays. His whole approach has a white knight waiting in the wings quality to it that is admirably old school, but (as Fred Thompson can tell you) often results in the competition passing you by.
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