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Thanks to the compressed news cycle and the impatience of the political class, we have seen the earliest serious launch of a presidential season in long memory. Normally candidates play coy until no more than eighteen months before a presidential election, but this cycle already has declared candidates and exploratory committees abound. In this rush to commitment, Newt Gingrich has decided to take a different and somewhat novel approach:
A former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, said yesterday that he will consider entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination only if no other potential candidate looks to be a prohibitive favorite by September 2007.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," Mr. Gingrich also praised several Republican politicians who are expected to make announcements soon about their presidential plans, Governor Romney of Massachusetts, Mayor Giuliani, and Senator McCain of Arizona.
"Romney's had a good year. He's emerging as a serious player. Giuliani is wildly popular for national security reasons. John McCain has built a base for years of hard work. If one them seals it off by Labor Day, my announcing now wouldn't make any difference anyway," Mr. Gingrich said. "If none of the three having from now to Labor Day can seal it off, the first real vote is in 2008. And there's plenty of time in the age of television and e-mail between Labor Day and 2008."
Gingrich is nothing if not clever. He knows that the field has already gotten crowded, and some question whether anyone else could find the financial backing to challenge the three frontrunners. In that environment, Gingrich figures that he can keep his powder dry until he really needs it. Labor Day 2007 would have been the traditional launch period of presidential campaigns anyway, and it leaves him plenty of time to rally his faithful.
The strategy still has its risks. Big-ticket donors are already feeling the pressure to get behind a specific candidate. Potential staffers may decide to sign onto other campaigns, leaving Gingrich with fewer and less influential choices by September 2007. The same could be said for voters as well, although thankfully voters don't commit until the primaries. Still, he's leaving the field open for someone to take control of the race and roll into the winter with commanding momentum.
However, Gingrich may have the one strategy tailored specifically for him. He has some strong negatives still within the party and outside of it, and he doesn't need another nine months for those to get dragged through the limelight. He has made a name for himself as an astute political pundit, and as long as he's still at least nominally an outsider he can continue to get media attention (and get paid for it). The lack of a credible conservative candidate also plays to this strategy. He can allow himself to get drafted late in the process, avoiding some of the internecine fighting of the early campaigning and perhaps even be a figure of unity within the GOP.
Clever indeed. Gingrich has always been clever, but he has miscalculated in the past. We'll have to wait until Labor Day to see whether he has this time.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» 2008: Evan says "buh-Bayh!" while Newt bides time from Wizbang Politics
While the strategy is "risky," Gingrich certainly has little to lose. He would be a minor figure among those heavyweights at this point, and the inevitable avalanche of polling over the next nine months or so could bury him in single digits, destroyin... [Read More]
Tracked on December 19, 2006 11:33 AM
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