Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has announced he's running for president. This is about as surprising as announcing that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow, but at least it's now official.
Gingrich, a Georgian, became Speaker in 1994, the first Republican to hold the job in fifty years. He left the Speakership and the House in 1998. There've been some scandals, but he's been a vocal and popular Republican ever since, always mentioned as a presidential possibility. Now, it seems, he's ready to run.
How will he do? Pretty well, I would guess. There's no dominant frontrunner yet, no Ronald Reagan.
Mitt Romney is pretty well known but as much for hauling his dog around on the roof of the family car as for anything else. As a governor he championed a health care plan which resembles the one President Obama got Congress to approve for the country. Republicans hate that, of course.
Tim Pawlenty? Mitch Daniels? Sure, maybe, but they aren't exactly household names. Sarah Palin? The Donald Trump? Again, maybe, both are household names but neither one has announced yet. If they did, would anyone take it seriously?
Liabilities for Gingrich? Well, he's on his third marriage. I don't know if most voters care about that kind of thing as much as they did, say, thirty years ago. The conservative base might. He criticized Obama for intervening in Libya right after he demanded that he should. Flip flop is a tough sell. And, too, there is that pesky old House ethics investigation. He's got some baggage to tote.
Anyway, he's just made 2012 a more interesting year. Well done, Mr. Speaker.
Morton is a retired political reporter who worked in Washington for CBS News from 1964-1993 and for CNN from 1993-2006. He attended his first political convention in 1960 and has been to most of them since then.