It's official. Newt Gingrich is running for President. I have to admit, it's a bit of a surprise to me that he went ahead and jumped in. Up until a few days ago I thought his presidential exploration exercise was looking a lot like a way to raise money for his pet projects. Then he announced Monday that he would make an announcement Wednesday and, apart from the absurdity of announcing an announcement, he caught my attention.
There was a time I would be jumping for joy at Newt's announcement to run for President. I still think he is usually the smartest guy in the room. I cannot, however, shake the feeling that he missed his time and now he has too much to overcome. The country yearns for fresh faces and fresh ideas. The infatuation with Barack Obama continues to fade and so far most pollsters, when allowed to be perfectly honest, will tell you that this will be a tough and competitive race in 2012 if only the GOP will run a strong candidate against Obama.
Don't get me wrong - I am forever grateful to Newt Gingrich for the victory in 1994 that brought my party into dominance for the first time in my then 30 something years. I was over the moon with the possibilities that a Republican led House and Senate could bring, even with a Democrat in the White House. The day after election night I clearly remember to this day talking to my sister on the telephone and both of us saying what a great day it was to be a Republican.
Newt Gingrich and Republicans were successful for the first time in 40 years in securing a majority in Congress because they offered a real plan for governing. Broken down into 10 clear and precise pledges, Gingrich carried it around in a pocket sized laminated copy and whipped it out at every press conference until all ten points were moved on.
It was glorious.
Because of those ten points and because Gingrich made good on his campaign promises, President Clinton was forced to sign welfare reform into law. Kicking and screaming against it until he could no longer, those welfare reforms were the necessary ones to make in the big entitlement reform agenda. Welfare programs destroyed at least one generation, probably two generations of minority and poor families in our country. The time had come for true and responsible reform.
A balanced budget was demanded by the new Republican majorities and again President Clinton was dragged kicking and screaming into signing that into law. Recent re-writes not withstanding, it was thanks to stubbornly committed Republicans that made that happen. It was never President Clinton's intention to govern within a balanced budget scenario.
Gingrich has been out of elected office for some thirteen years now. Though not a hindrance in the minds of many, it does mean he is now accustomed to being his own boss. He will have to prove that this run for President is more than a ego driven adventure.
I've met Gingrich and he is as impressive in person as he is on television. He has lots of ideas he articulates clearly to his audience. He has an ability to tell the story of our nation's history like no other. Is that enough? Are today's voters younger than me even interested in the history of Republican politics or of the 1994 Republican Revolution? Do today's voters older than me think Newt is not worthy because of excess personal baggage?
I don't know. Getting to that answer will be interesting.
Here is Newt's big announce on youtube: