Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia formally entered the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination today.
Gingrich, 67, said on his campaign website that he was running “because I believe we can return America to hope and opportunity, to full employment, to real security, to an American energy program, to a balanced budget.”
The website includes a line quoting Gingrich saying, “Together we will win the future.” That parrots a line that President Barack Obama -- the Democrat Gingrich is seeking to unseat -- used in his State of the Union speech to Congress in January and that he has occasionally recycled since then.
Gingrich returned to that theme tonight in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.”
“This is about millions of Americans deciding we can win the future with the right policies leading to the right outcomes,” he said. “President Obama has the wrong policies leading to the wrong outcomes.”
Gingrich had signaled May 9 that he would seek the Republican nomination.
With his announcement today, he became the first among the more prominent prospective Republican White House contenders to officially declare his candidacy. Several of the others, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, have been laying the groundwork for presidential campaigns.
A former college professor, Gingrich was elected to the House in 1978. In the 1994 midterm elections, he spearheaded a Republican campaign that gave the party its first majority in the House in 40 years. In January 1995, when the new Congress took office, he became the first Republican House speaker since Representative Joe Martin of Massachusetts served in the post from 1953 to 1955.
In 1997, Gingrich was reprimanded by the House and paid $300,000 to settle claims that he had used tax-exempt organizations for political purposes and had given misleading statements during an investigation. He announced his resignation from Congress in November 1998 after the House Republicans saw their majority shrink in the second consecutive election.
As speaker, he championed the House’s impeachment of Bill Clinton over the president’s relationship with a White House intern. The Senate acquitted Clinton. It later was disclosed that while promoting Clinton’s impeachment, Gingrich was having an extramarital affair with a congressional staff member, who became his third wife in 2000.
Four other Republicans have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to raise money for their presidential campaigns and are expected to soon officially announce their candidacies. In addition to Pawlenty and Romney, this group includes former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.
Others considering a run include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee; Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite; real estate developer Donald Trump; Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels; and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who returned to the U.S. last month after serving as Obama’s ambassador to China.
Herman Cain, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Godfather’s Pizza Inc., and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also have declared their candidacies. They joined Pawlenty, Paul and Santorum for the campaign’s first debate May 5 in South Carolina.
Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, a Democrat-turned-Republican, has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run.
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