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Newt Gingrich for President? Don't Underestimate Him

4 years ago
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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).

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. Sadly, his arguments might be diluted in debates featuring a crowded field of competitors. But can you imagine Gingrich in a one-on-one scenario against, say, Mitt Romney -- or, for that matter, anyone?

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 (no, not "Drill, Baby, Drill!" kind of energy -- but get-up-early-and-work-hard-all-day energy).

Fred Thompson provided a great example in 2008 of how a candidate with tremendous buzz can quickly flame out when he lacks such energy and "fire in the belly" necessary to kiss babies, shake hands and put forth his message day in and day out.

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).

Clearly, though, Gingrich is energetic. How many books has he churned out? How many organizations does he head? How many speeches does he give? It's hard to imagine anyone out-hustling him on the campaign trail, and hard work pays off.

But aside from all that, Gingrich also has a proven track record of success that no other Republican can come close to matching.

Name another one whose vision turned around his party after decades in the wilderness -- or who has a track record of taking a leadership role in helping balance the federal budget (which, last time I checked, was an important issue this year).

Haley Barbour did a great job running the RNC and Mitt Romney turned around companies and the Olympics -- but who can match Gingrich's record of winning back the House for the first time in 40 years -- and then actually helping to balance the budget? It occurs to me that these accomplishments are not as widely appreciated as they will be.

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.

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Gee, the student who questioned his morals certainly didn't underestimate him,,,,,,did she?

February 28 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personal baggage aside, there are scads of videos and other media showing him making incendiary and baseless comments, like Obama having some kind of Kenyan colonial attitude leftover from his father (whom he had met all but a couple of times). THAT more than anything will be his undoing. It's one thing to be energetic and have lots of ideas; it's quite another to have to backtrack hundreds of idiotic statements from over the past several years.

February 28 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe the author of this piece has it wrong. Instead of us voters under-estimating Gingrich, Gingrich shouldn't take the potential voters for granted. I certainly haven't taken him for granted, and he will never get my vote. His larger than life ego and hypocritical stances on issues, and less than truthful edicts place him, in my view, near the bottom of the heap along with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and last but not least Mitt Romney, who could send my children off to war or armed conflict, but couldn't bring himself to send any of his five boy's off to war or armed conflict. No, none of the aforementioned deserve my vote. Moreover, the remaining two candidates aren't very bright, and have on more than one or several occasions, made ridiculous comments that they stand by. Surely, the republicans can put up somebody other than these four...

February 28 2011 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rogell's comment

Rogell has it absolutely right!

February 28 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

So Mr, G, Ex Speaker of the House, has found religion. So have prisoners who face death do as well. However, I not yet heard of excaping death by finding religion nor do I think Mr. N G will become president by finding his God. He has much to much baggage. A good mind lost to personal problems. He could never carry the Women's vote . Three wifes, leaving one on her Cancer bed in the hospital, having an affair while in a second marriage and suddenly finding religion in his third marriage. What is left for the forth

February 28 2011 at 10:38 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anne's comment

Agree, Anne. He may make a good Presidential advisor, but he will NEVER get my vote for the reasons you listed as well as others. He is too much seen as the DC establishment. We need new people, and one of those I like is West. Another is Ryan, and there are many others....

February 28 2011 at 3:54 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

Obama had ideas...but no management experience

February 28 2011 at 9:50 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rlgoff's comment

Rigoff, The subject matter isn't about President Obama. The subject matter here is Newt Gingrich. You're about as bad or misinformed as the writer of this piece. Again, the subject is Newt Gingrich, and not the president...

February 28 2011 at 11:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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