Newt Gingrich put an end to any speculation yesterday, declaring that he will indeed be a candidate for president in the upcoming election. The former speaker of the House broke the news on Twitter and Facebook, before appearing on Fox with Sean Hannity to discuss his vision for America.
“All my life I’ve preached citizenship,” Gingrich said. “I think my job now is to recruit 310 million Americans.” He said that the problems that the nation faces today are beyond the ability of any one person in the White House to solve by themselves. However, he maintains that a united nation can return to four per cent unemployment, a balanced budget and a secure energy future. “I think this country has an enormous potential to break out,” he said.
Gingrich brings tremendous name recognition into the race. Eighty-four per cent of Republicans recognize his name according to Gallup, even though he’s not held an elected position for twelve years. On the downside, his high-profile position as speaker and combative style made him the leading foil to President Bill Clinton when Clinton was in office. Gingrich thus became a favorite target for many liberals in the mainstream media who despised him.
Hannity questioned him about that issue, especially in terms of how the mainstream media is expected to delve into Gingrich’s personal life and history, even though they have been loath to do so when it comes to Barack Obama’s past. Gingrich shrugged the problem off, telling Hannity that a conservative would be foolish to expect even-handed treatment from the mainstream media, so his focus would be on getting his message out, rather than the hopeless task of trying to obtain fair treatment from left-wing journalists.
Gingrich’s great advantage as a candidate is his intellect. He is as good at formulating and articulating policy as anyone who might be a potential candidate in 2012. If Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama were to sit across a table and discuss the issues of the day for an hour or two without a script, there can be no doubt that Gingrich would demolish the president. However, that soaring intellect is also his Achilles’ heel. It’s much more difficult for Gingrich to project the homespun, everyman image that voters adore and that master politicians like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were able to utilize so well.
Might another “Contract with America” be in the works? Gingrich indicated that he would revive that part of his playbook during the campaign. He hopes to get Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on board so that they can present a unified new contract to the American people. The ultimate goal, according to Gingrich, is to add twelve more Republican seats in the Senate and forty in the House. If that happens, he asserts, a Gingrich presidency can make a real difference.
Gingrich juxtaposed the rise of Texas and the demise of Detroit as the metaphor for the way that he looks at the role of government, and how Barack Obama views the same. Texas has created more jobs than any other state for the last ten years running, largely due to adhering to free-market, small government principles. In contrast, Detroit is the epitome of big-government and big-union influence and everyone understands how that has worked out.
“Talking to [Texas] Governor Rick Perry, I know how to get the whole country to resemble Texas,” Gingrich said. “President Obama knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit.”
The former speaker promised to reverse what he described as Obama’s “anti-American energy policies” by encouraging and allowing further use of the nation’s vast energy reserves. While generally respectful of the president and the office he holds, Gingrich reverted to a harsher tone on a couple of occasions.
He was very offended by Obama’s critical tone with regard to Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan. The president said that Ryan’s plan would force many disadvantaged Americans, like those suffering from Down’s Syndrome or autism, to go it “on their own.” Gingrich called that assertion a “falsehood” and said that Obama demeaned the office of the president by fabricating such a yarn.
Gingrich was also very critical of Attorney General Eric Holder and the cozy relationship that Holder had with suspected terrorists before joining the Obama administration. Holder continues to pursue cases against intelligence professionals in agencies like the CIA, on the grounds that they violated the “rights” of accused enemy combatants. “Americans should be outraged that the people in agencies like the CIA who are working to protect us are being attacked by their own Attorney General,” Gingrich said.
There is no doubt that Newt Gingrich will be a force in the race to pick a Republican nominee for President. Whether or not this conservative icon can attract enough votes to take on Barack Obama remains to be seen.