Newt Gingrich will run for president in 2012
May 12, 2011, 9:22 pm·
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich formally announced his presidential campaign May 11 over Twitter.
‘Today I am announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Gingrich wrote at about 4:20 p.m.
Gingrich also released a video announcement of his candidacy in which he extolled the importance of cooperation and bipartisanship. “We Americans are going to have to talk together, work together, find solutions together,” he said in the video.
Gingrich is one of just a handful of Republicans who have announced their presidential bid — Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is expected to announce his candidacy as well today.
However, despite the small field, Gingrich’s main obstacle appears to be public perceptions about his personal life.
Gingrich’s Feb. 22 visit to Penn as the Social Planning and Events Committee’s spring Connaissance speaker soon led to a controversy overnight after Penn Democrats President and College sophomore Isabel Friedman asked about his past.
“You adamantly oppose gay rights … but you’ve also been married three times and admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second,” said Friedman to Gingrich. “As a successful politician who’s considering running for president, who would set the bar for moral conduct and be the voice of the American people, how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?”
“I’ll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question,” Gingrich responded. “I appreciate the delicacy and generosity in the way it was framed. … I hope you feel better about yourself.” Gingrich added that he believes in “a forgiving God” and “if the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant.”
The exchange was covered by several national news outlets, including CNN, CBS, Politico and MSNBC.
College Republicans President and Wharton junior Charles Gray said he was unsure of whether Gingrich’s personal past will affect voters’ decisions.
“He apologized for the things he’s done in the past and that's what counts,” Gray, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, said. “If he has remorse in his heart, I think voters will see that.”
Gray also said Gingrich’s personality will make him a good contender in the primary and general elections, adding that his visit to Penn “shows he’s willing to engage with all sorts of people — that attitude is going to be very helpful on the frontlines of the campaign.”
Friedman however is unconcerned over the prospect of Gingrich running. "There was a time when he was incredibly popular, which is why he was speaker," she said. "But there were a lot of mistakes leading up to his resignation and those legislative mistakes…will result in him not being the [Republican] nominee."
Friedman added that Gingrich's past is something that will be in the minds of those going to the polls. "Everyone’s lives and past are up for public examination. If you have blemishes, they’ll be talked about by voters," she said.
However, some disagree that Gingrich's past will be a salient issue. “He’s a been a bit inoculated,” Annenberg School for Communication professor Alvin Felzenberg said with regard to public scrutiny of Gingrich’s past.
Gingrich’s “negatives are well known. As the other candidates undergo public vetting … Gingrich has already been there and done that,” Felzenberg said.
Felzenberg also said that Gingrich’s personality will aid him on the campaign trail. “If I were [President Barack] Obama, I would not underestimate [Gingrich] — I’ve seen him in debates with politicians and professors,” Felzenberg said. “Though Obama has great charisma and stage presence, Gingrich also has that in his own way. I’d be a little leery of his oratorical strength.”