Newt Gingrich Running Stealth Non-Campaign for President

Newt Gingrich is not running for president. But if the people sign petitions to get his name on the ballot in all fifty states. . . . No, wait. That was Ross Perot.

The radical realist who defied conventional wisdom 12 years ago by stealing the House out from under the noses of entrenched Democrats now plans a surprise attack for the presidency. “I’m going to tell you something, and whether or not it’s plausible given the world you come out of is your problem,” he tells Fortune. “I am not ‘running’ for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.” So he’s running, only without yet formally saying so.

While other potential competitors like Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney build staff and hire consultants, Gingrich revealed to Fortune that he plans to create a draft-Newt “wave” by building grassroots support for his health care, national security and energy independence ideas – all of which he has been peddling to corporate audiences over the past six years. “Nice people,” Gingrich says of his GOP competitors. “But we’re not in the same business. They’re running for president. I’m running to change the country.”

In December, Gingrich will launch a 527 group, called “American Solutions for Winning the Future,” that will enable him to raise and spend unlimited money on behalf of this effort. In January, he will conduct a strategy meeting with advisers. By next fall, he’ll decide whether to make a bid official – a late start by any recent historical standard.

It’s a strategy that would be considered far-fetched if this were any other candidate. But Gingrich has to be taken seriously. Polls place him third in the GOP presidential nomination race, behind Giuliani and McCain. And a recent internal GOP poll recently put him second, and ahead of McCain.

The similarities between Gingrich and Ross Perot are quite striking, really. Both of them are wholly unsuited for political power but much more interesting than virtually anyone in politics. Both are people who, if I happen across them as a guest on a talk show, I’ll stop and listen because they’re so engaging. They’re both uncommonly bright and natural leaders, albeit in different ways.

Unfortunately, both are deeply flawed. Perot is crazier than Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich put together. Gingrich is sleazier than Bill Clinton. Neither will ever be president and that’s a very good thing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    Why do you imply that Howard Dean is crazy at all? Is it because he was right about the war before most everyone else? Or because he gave an enthusiastic cheerleading speech to his supporters after a primary loss? Or because he had the vision to rebuild the infrastructure of his party in all the areas of the country that they were being pushed out of?

  2. With the democratic win in congress, the potential for a plethora of third party candidates in 2008 increases. I suspect that some ‘true believers’ will be disappointed in what the democrats do with their new found control of the levers. Certainly there is fission on the right as to why the GOP lost and what should be done about it.

    Pelosi has 37 signed up “blue dog” democrats in her Caucus. If she loses less than half of them, she needs republicans to win a vote. 4 of the 5 republicans with ACU ratings 54 and below are gone. 93% of the GOP delegation has a lifetime ACU rating of 70 or higher (or won election in 2006 in a seat vacated by GOP with an ACU rating of 70 or higher). The two sides are relatively evenly matched (44% with ACU ratings 70 and better, all republican; 45% the ACU ratings 30 or less, all democrats). That 11% in the middle is about 3/4 democrat (which is why Nancy is speaker), but it will be interesting to see how much red meat she can deliver to the leftist base.

  3. legion says:

    With the democratic win in congress, the potential for a plethora of third party candidates in 2008 increases.

    I’m not so sure about that. If the Dems had blown it this election, then I could imagine a great many big names abandoning the party infrastructure for something newer & with less baggage. And I suppose the same thing might happen to the GOP, with many less extreme conservatives & libertarian types bailing on the party machine. But I think it’s more likely that a lot of the worst of the current GOP will get kicked to the curb before ’08…

  4. Legion,

    My third party entrants are based on two variants on the theme. From the left, those who aren’t happy with how far the democrats in congress push things. No matter how far Nancy pushes things, I can guarantee you there will be those on the left who think she is selling out by not pushing things further. If that group can coalesce behind a voice (think of a Kerry, Gore or Edwards who lose out in the primaries to the dragon lady), then that would be one potential split. A less likely split would be a Lieberman running as a liberal democrat/national security hawk.

    On the other side of the aisle, imagine Newt running as a third party going after Reagan democrats, libertarians and disaffected small government GOP types. Or a hard right GOP in response to a McCain or Rudy.

    And of course there is the possibility of a true moderate stepping up to the plate.

    I don’t think we will know until 2Q08, but my gut tells me we will have at least one if not two serious third party candidates. They may run under the Green party, Libertarian party or a yet to be created label, but I think we will see them. And of course, depending on which side of the aisle they come from, they will in turn likely syphon votes in key states.

  5. Tano says:

    I really dont see any third party taking any real support from either party in any presidential election in the near future. Certainly not on the Dem side. This excruciatingly long national nightmare, facilitated by Ralph Nader, has made the consequences of supporting a third party blindingly obvious to all.

  6. Tano,

    Posit a US congress that can only point to a couple of minor bills passed (e.g. minimum wage) in two years. We are still at war in Iraq with no change and the democrats in congress saying we need to stay in and keep fighting because of the larger regional implications. Democrats are running up the deficit with increased spending, but not raising taxes. Several democrats get caught up in the Abramoff and other lobbyist scandals. I’m not saying this is the most likely scenario, but if that was the case, do you really think there wouldn’t be a movement on the left to find another voice.

    Nader got his votes on the left because he basically pointed out that the democrats were not running on “democratic values” but had become the party of big businesses. Newt is getting mileage on the flip side that the GOP isn’t the party of smaller government. While there is a strong core on both sides who will go down with the ship for their parties, if you can’t see 5% coming off of either party (or both for the right candidate) I don’t think you are looking at this rationally.

  7. Tano says:

    Yetanother,

    I am not saying that I can’t envision 5% on either side wanting to support a third party, I’m just saying that I dont think they would end up doing so, becuase it would be clear that by doing so they will not really manage to elect the third party candidate, but will likely merely swing the election to their respective worst-case candidate.

  8. RJN says:

    How is Newt sleezy? If it is the adultery thing, I offer FDR and Ike, as good to better presidents, who each had an adulterous relationship.

    In any case, I think we will have a three-way contest in Nov. ’08 and the Lizard Queen will slither to victory.

  9. floyd says:

    tano; none of those ; howard dean is crazy; because he is a shallow minded, loudmouthed, hate mongering jackass who can do nothing but bray at the camera at every opportunity.

  10. anjin-san says:

    Unlike most of the folks who say things like Howard Dean is “crazy”, I have actually met Dean, talked to him, and seen him speak in person on many occasions.

    Dean was right about Iraq. He is right about health care. (of course he is a “hate monger”, after all, he thinks every child in this country should see a doctor once a year”.)

    Shallow minded? I know some senior people from Dean’s campaign, people who, I will wager, have resumes a bit more impressive then Floyd’s, who were dazzled by Dean’s intelligence and vision.

    Dean was clearly not prepared for the level of scrutiny he received as a presidential front-runner. His staff also failed to adequately prep him more then once. That being said, the man was on record saying that if he became president, he would break up media conglomerates. And the media went after him, pronto.

    So if you want to be a sheep and look at one video of Dean that was not his best moment (and how many times was it shown? Thousands?) Well by all means, be a sheep. Just remember that sheep often get fleeced.

  11. DL says:

    Dean isn’t crazy because he thinks that every child in America should see a doctor once a year?

    Is that the abortionist that Dean so loves?

  12. floyd says:

    it all depends on who’s being impressed now doesn’t it?

  13. floyd says:

    quote from anjin-san…”Unlike most of the folks who say things like Howard Dean is “crazy”, I have actually met Dean, talked to him, and seen him speak in person on many occasions.” starstruck?? BTW; are you trying to imply that people who don’t provide their own children with health care are hate mongers?

  14. anjin-san says:

    Floyd,

    Actually “informed” would be more like it. My experience with Dr. Dean goes back to when he was gov. of Vermont, a point in time when his star power was not all that great. In any case he is hardly the first well known public figure I have met.

    At any rate, I will take the fact that you are unable to come up with a better response to my comments about Dean as an admission that you are simply engaged in name calling directed at a man you obviously know nothing about.

  15. floyd says:

    anjin-san; you’re right, he’s a god.