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BREAKING NEWS: The Newt Watch -- now he says no

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker whose political striptease over running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination went through even more layers of clothing than Fred Thompson, sent out a spokesman today to say that the Georgian had decided not to make the effort this time.

Barely 72 hours ago the 64-year-old Gingrich had announced that a close advisor would depart Monday on a three-week nationwide trek to gauge possible financial commitments and that if he could round up $30 million worth, Gingrich didn't see how he could resist such popular pressure to run.

Today, the spokesman, Rick Tyler, said Gingrich had just discovered that he could not legally explore a political opportunity like running for president while remaining head of American Solutions, his tax-exempt political organization. So he was giving up the presidential idea. "Newt is not running," Tyler said.

A master at manipulating the media, even before helping to invent the "Contract With America" that in 1994 won Congress back for the GOP after decades of minority status, Gingrich is an erudite and eloquent speaker who retains a loyal Republican following despite his resignation after Republican election losses in 1998.

A presidential confrontation next year between Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, who so often denounced his right-wing conspiracy, would have been one of the most entertaining in decades. And the debates would have surely outdrawn reruns of "The Simpsons."

The decision's implications for the other Republican candidates seem minimal, except possibly the freeing up of some Gingrich donors awaiting his decision. You can bet that the Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson folks are calling them this afternoon.

In public, such as during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair, Gingrich can be one of the most pointedly partisan speakers imaginable. His biting remarks leave scars not easily forgotten, and he'd never make any Democratic Lincoln Bedroom list. Yet out of office, he can also publicly debate prominent Democrats like Mario Cuomo and produce a fascinating evening of bipartisan political dialogue rich in enlightening history.

In person Gingrich's attention to and involvement with those around him is intense, like a college professor engaging students in the hall after a lecture. Win-or-lose, his ...

energy is palpable and he seems to positively overflow with ideas, always pulling yet another piece of paper from his suit jacket with some new plan for reforming the stalemated American political system.

Gingrich has many of the credentials seemingly required to run for the modern American presidency. He has held elected federal office, can draw a media crowd anywhere, has written books, has been divorced and had at least one affair.

In fact, Gingrich's on-air admission last winter to Focus on the Family's James Dobson of conducting an affair while married and even while criticizing President Clinton's affair was what got many political observers thinking Gingrich would seek the party's nomination, getting the dirty laundry out in public and making it old news before opponents could leak it salaciously, a classic defense.

Gingrich has spent the ensuing months in countless interviews offering unsolicited advice from the campaign sidelines to alleged Republican colleagues, at one point calling them a bunch of pygmies. This prompted an outburst from another GOP elder, the normally calm Bob Dole: "I totally disagree with Newt Gingrich. I don't know how he has set himself up as the spokesman for the world."

Each Gingrich interview, of course, provided the opportunity to present himself as an alternative, which he never discouraged. And he appeared at various times to lean both ways -- yes, he might; no, probably not.

The fact is Gingrich has carefully constructed a network of lucrative businesses. He gives frequent lectures and all this publicity in recent months can only increase his reported $40,000 fee. He is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, writes an online newsletter for Human Events, has a regular radio program reaching more than 400 stations, writes books that provide regular promotional tours and much media exposure and is a paid contributor to Fox News.

Besides the nonprofit bipartisan American Solutions, Gingrich also has a for-profit think tank, the Center for Health Transformation. So he won't be disappearing from the public consciousness.

Basically all of that business would have to be jettisoned for a presidential run that grows increasingly risky at this stage, which was once considered still pretty early and now seems very late. Polls adding Gingrich to the existing Republican field have shown him in the 7%-8% range, a lot better than Ron Paul but behind even the under-financed John McCain. Gingrich himself pointed out the other day the challenge of taking on a multimillionaire like Romney, who can write his own campaign checks.

So this looks like the end of the Newt Watch for now. Should Republicans lose the White House next year, however, there won't be many party leaders with existing followings left standing in the wreckage except maybe this tall Georgia fellow who has been issuing all these warnings and compiling his own fortune, keeps showing up on TV and will still be in his mid-60s come 2010, when the next presidential campaign starts.

Something that does strike the eye, however: Gingrich has said that if he ever did run, he would never make the announcement in such an undignified way as on a late-night talk show, as McCain, Thompson and Arnold Schwarzenegger have done.

So he makes the announcement of not running by sending out a hired hand on a quiet Saturday morning, not the day you normally pick nor the time of day to announce something you want ignored. TV and newspapers have all day to prepare their stories. Chances are today's announcement will boost the ratings for Sunday's "This Week" on ABC, where both Gingrich and former president Clinton are to appear.

Despite an entire week full of activities by all the other candidates and their travels and attacks and responses and major policy pronouncements, the Sunday newspapers, the Sunday morning political talk shows and the weekend blogosphere will now be full of buzz and chatter about what Newt Gingrich isn't doing. See what we mean about clever manipulation?

Oh, and one other thing: Regardless of the news so casually released on a September Saturday, the deadline for filing for January's New Hampshire primary doesn't come until November.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (23)

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If this member of the Council on Foreign Relations, while majority leader, could not figure a way to disembowel the National Endowment for the Arts or Public Broadcasting, how can he address the larger and more serious unconstitutional encroachment of the Federal Leviathan of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, Public Education, Internal Revenue Service et. al.

Patriots have anointed an OB GYN from Texas to return the United States of America to the Framers original intent. Congressman Ron Paul has actually read the enumerated powers clause [Article One, Section Eight] of the Constitution and has a voting record to prove it. What a counterfeit conservative...

How do you figure that being inside the margin of error with Newt is "A lot better"? Statisically its a dead heat. Or was before Newt realized that he's more vice president on a losing ticket material.

Newt Gingrich, is an intellectual powerhouse, a pefect man for the Presidency. I am sorry he will not run. He would easily out-debate Ms. Hilarious Clinton and her cohert slick Willy. Newt is amazing, we need true leaders and real visionaries not pansy, change on-a-whim washington old hat politicians whom are just power hungary, for no real patriotic reasons.
American shoud take notice, and elect the type of Leader Mr. Gingrich has proven to been, fully competent, insightful, globally-minded, and a rich historical perspective on where we as a country have been and where we should be going. The loss is ours by not having him in there to run against phoney democratic candidates.

this isn't news. like he would win any state or any primary. lol

"Polls adding Gingrich to the existing Republican field have shown him in the 7%-8% range, a lot better than Ron Paul but behind even the under-financed John McCain. "

Lies. Prove to me these polls were done such that Paul was included in the candidates list. A lot of these polls fail to mention Paul, so all of his results are "write ins." Also, they call at odd times, like 5pm - and to homeowners, not apartments or dorms.

We are being "Diebolded" with these false polls, and the straw polls prove this.'

Walden O'Dell, CEO, Diebold, August, 2003 : "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year"
Walden has since resigned as he the company he lead is facing securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading.

Newt wants to change the country but he's too cheap to do so. His alleged consideration of running for President seems a mere afterthought. With his "Well, if someone wants to pay for it, I'll do you a favor and run for President" No Newt - really, don't get up, don’t trouble yourself. His self-righteous finger pointing really makes him seem bloated with self importance. He teased us last year with a run for the Presidency merely to draw attention to his new book he was schlepping around. Newt talks a good game but doesn't want to make the sacrifice to meet the American people halfway. This country needs a party other than the obvious two incompetent ones, but Newt is not the answer.

It's a great loss! I was looking forward to the Thompson run until he started to speak . There is no way that he has the speaking ability or the right position on issues to win the nomination. Hopefully Newt will change his mind one more time. He has a lot more that 7% to 8% support. Most conservative Republicans that I talk with would like to see Newt in the race.

If Americans don’t wake up their will be nothing left, our Nation is broke and Wall Street is the only people making a profit. While the Hidden inflation tax continues to rise and the value of the dollar declines. Ron Paul is the only one who truely understands this, and honestly if he is not elected America should be prepared for a real economic depression like it has never seen before.

Unless you want a North American Union and a new currency the "Amero" split with Canada and Mexico. And lose all your rights and freedom. Vote For Ron Paul 2008!

So my advice is to bypass the media and spread the word to your family and friends about him. The power of the People is far greater than a campaign spending 10's of million to buy an image. Because this man is a real American Hero. He has dedicated his life to this country and everyone in it, and now he is trying to save it from disaster.

Spread The Word! Go Ron Paul 2008!

Ron Paul Has Raised 838,000 in 5 Days from people who really love this country and their freedom!

Join The ReVoLuTiOn:

I believe Newt could've whipped Hillary. Oh well, if you were behind Gingrich, PLEASE get behind Huckabee, Paul or Keyes.

As a fellow Texan I'm excited to see so much enthusiasm for Paul...shame the mainstream media ignores him.

It would be so COOL to have tens of millions of write-ins for him & pull a huge upset on just another Dem-GOP "lesser of two evils" election.

I could stand almost anybody BUT evil / phony Billary or grossly inexperienced Obama.

I am sorry that Newt won't run. He would have done what no present candidate could have - straighten this country out !

Between, 20+ million Illegals, Lunatic Terrorists, unjustified Taxes, decaying infrastructure, Tremendous Government Corruption, worn out Northeast Senators, corrupt election system where multiplied 10’s of thousands of dead have voted and the moto in Baltimore is “ Vote early – vote often, millions of jobs going over seas due to Disloyal American Greedy Corporate big shots – this country is in BIG trouble !

Ron Paul has raised $960,000 online in the past six days, after setting a goal of $500,000 in one week to end the quarter.

Ron Paul has 47,000+ volunteers signed up in local Meetup groups across the country -- more than the rest of the candidates, combined.

Ron Paul has drawn large crowds across the US, from Texas to Iowa to Missouri to South Carolina to Nevada to California to Washington to Utah to Pennsylvania. Today he is in New Hampshire, at another large rally and going door-to-door with his family.

Ron Paul has mopped the floor with Giuliani, McCain, Hunter, Huckabee, Brownback, and Tancredo in Republican straw polls around the nation, and has done as well as or better than Romney and Thompson.

Ron Paul has mopped the floor with everyone at the seven debates he has participated in.

Ron Paul is the most searched-for and most read-about candidate on the Internet -- why isn't the LA Times covering him? Don't you like site traffic?

No wonder Newt decided not to bother.

(Ans: Doug, thanks for your concern but we're doing great on traffic. And judging from all the Ron Paul comments here, it seems we're getting that traffic too.

If you guys were a little less into your persecution complex, always looking to see where you're not being mentioned, you'd have noticed we just printed several entire pages verbatim from Ron Paul's website so that our readers could see for themselves what he's saying. We'll be doing that occasionally for all the surviving candidates.

Looks like you need to pay a little more attention.-AM)

If Giuliani gets the nomination, Newt would make a good choice for VP.

This is a real shame, and a terrible blow for liberty and freedom.

I was really hoping we could have another thrice-divorced, ethicallly-challenged, neocon warmonger to remind everyone exactly why we can't trust anyone but Ron Paul to deliver on his promises.

Newt's entry in the race would have diluted and split the neocon vote, to Ron Paul's (and the nation's) advantage.


Newt ; will allways be remembered as the exotic figure of the conservative party,thats what make made him weak. to proclame your ideas with so much certainty and never listen to the other side put him on the spot ,the place all arrogant stupid people tend to like .

The real reason Gingrich is not running is because people are not interseted in him -- not his stated reason that he's just found out he can't run for office and run his think(?) tank, too. Newt can't raise the money to run for president, and he's polling lower than most of the other candidates. It's not a situation like Thompson had where Thompson polled high before he got in. No one is interested in Newt -- he should stick his head in the sand and stay there.

Newt says he's not running because he can't run his bogus, nonprofit think(?) tank and run for president, also. He knew that before he offered himself as a candidate. If people were interested in him, he would have dropped that think(?) tank like a hot potato. Newt is continuing with his pattern of lies and deceit -- as he did with his CONTRACT ON AMERICA and his ex-wives.

Newt should never offer himself as a candidate for anything again. WE'RE NOT INTERESTED!

Oral Roberts wanted 40 million, or he'd be called home.
Newt wants 30 million or he wont run.
It seems there are crooks on all sides. Watch your wallet, and count your fingers if you shake hands or meet any of these people.

Ron Paul? Is he even still alive?


Alive to the tune of $1,023,719.75 in six days. You can go back to your slumber now...

“If ye love wealth greater than Liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

– Samuel Adams

Thank God you all live in CA...Stay there!!!!!

(Ans: Thanks for reading anyway, pal.-AM)

In a PIG's EYE would I vote for Gingrich. Don't he have a baby out of wedlock, something like that.. and unmerciful toward Bill Clinton. "To Renew America" and.. what was it.. "Contract On America" BAH!!

Gingrich thought Reagan was a "great president" BAH!

Same crooks, different name. Hey give me $30 million dollars.. I'll run.
I sure wish they would have the "Government Shutdown" and I mean RIGHT NOW! As far as scandal and womanizing this egomaniac makes BIll Clinton look like a altar boy.

Newt was one of my professors while attending West Georgia College (1973-1976). While he was exceptionally intelligent, he was also self centered, egotistical, and insuffrable. Over the years, my experience with humanity is that people tend to intensify with time. The exceptional tend to become more more so, the insufferable become more insufferable. Newt follows the pattern.

"A presidential confrontation next year between Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, who so often denounced his right-wing conspiracy, would have been one of the most entertaining in decades. And the debates would have surely outdrawn reruns of "The Simpsons.""

Right because we are all just waiting here with a bad of popcorn to be entertained while our country rots from the inside out. MSM, you are making America sick!

To the point.
Who cares about Newt? The only thing useful he has said in this election is that Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate that offers something that the Bush clones do not. He isn't running because he knows that American's are on to the fraud. I'd like to see him personally endorse Ron Paul, then you will know what he stands for.

"Gingrich has many of the credentials seemingly required to run for the modern American presidency. He has held elected federal office, can draw a media crowd anywhere, has written books, has been divorced and had at least one affair."

Actually none of the Democrats have been divorced or had affairs, along with Mitt Romney on the Republican side. But I guess it's more "balanced" and "nonpartisan" to say they're "seemingly" all guilty. Congratulations, your readers are less informed after reading your story than when they started.

(Ans: Well, we wouldn't know for sure about the affairs yet, just the younger wife, the second marriage, the books, being elected to federal office and drawing a crowd. Thanks for reading.-AM)


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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