Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made it official
today: he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. I’m sure Giuliani and Romney are breathing sighs of relief; they can finally relax now that they won’t have to feel Newt’s hot, garlic-tainted breath down the back of their necks. The official reason Newt is keeping out of the race is that campaign finance laws would force him to leave his American Solutions 527 group if he became a declared candidate. The unofficial and actual reason is that somebody close to Newt finally convinced him that he never, ever had a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning.
Newt would prefer it if voters got to the “leader of the 1994 Republican revolution” line on his résumé and just stopped reading. What happened next – the bits about him violating federal tax laws and being sanctioned $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee, narrowly avoiding being voted out as Speaker by members of his own party in 1997, and earning the lowest approval rating ever for a Speaker of the House (28%) aren’t nearly so becoming. Nor are the creepy wish-fulfillment alternative history novels he co-wrote with William Forstchen about the Confederacy winning the American Civil War.
It tells you all you need to know about Newt that he actually seriously entertained the notion of running for president, despite the fact that the vast majority of Republicans, Democrats, and miscellaneous regard him as a punchline. Sure, there is a base of disgruntled conservatives who would be willing to vote for Newt, but they’ve always been a minority of a minority. Newt aspiring to the White House is like Bill O’Reilly believing that his relatively paltry basic cable audience gives him the power to significantly influence national events – funny, sure, but mostly just sad.