Will he or won't he? Amid conflicting reports, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich planned to take at least a small step this week toward a Republican presidential candidacy in 2012.
Gingrich is expected to announce his intent to form a presidential exploratory committee during a visit Thursday to his home state of Georgia, according to the Wall Street Journal. Other reports, quoting Gingrich aides Tuesday, suggested he would actually announce formation of such a committee. Then again, he may say very little about his national ambitions, Politico said, out of concern that any pointed talk of a candidacy could prematurely trigger legal and financial questions relative to who's paying for what.
Even a declaration of intentions would begin a choreographed process -- a slow dance usually drawn out for maximum media exposure -- leading to a "formal" announcement of candidacy. The exploratory committee -- in theory a backdrop for a time of pondering -- allows a would-be candidate to begin collecting campaign money and requires reporting of those donations to the Federal Election Commission.
Word of Gingrich's possible announcement was enough to prompt Fox News to suspend him
as a regular contributor at least until May 1 as he considers his options, the AP said. Another Fox contributor, former Sen. Rick Santorum, who also is weighing a campaign, was also put on ice by the network while he makes his mind up.
If Gingrich takes his semi-step on Thursday, he would be the first high-profile Republican to head down the 2012 campaign road, with others sure to follow in the not-too-distant future.
One long shot is expected to surface Thursday in Baton Rouge, where former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer planned to announce his own exploratory committee, according to ABC News
and other media outlets. Roemer, a onetime Democrat and member of Congress, served as governor between 1988 and 1992. He is 68 and has been out of elective office for the better part of two decades.
Up north, a sitting Republican governor who says he won't take the plunge -- New Jersey's Chris Christie
-- does not lack for confidence. Christie, already a popular figure in GOP circles in his first term, insists he's not running for president. But he told the National Review
, "I have people calling me and saying to me, 'Let me explain to you how you could win.' And I'm like, 'You're barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win.' That's not the issue."
What matters, he goes on to say, is whether he
believes he is "ready to be president -- and I don't... I think when you have people who make the decision just based upon seeing the opportunity, you have a much greater likelihood that you're going to have a president who is not ready. And then we all suffer ... if your conservative president is not ready, you're not going to be good anyway because you're going to get rolled all over the place in that town."
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