Newt Gingrich is set to launch an official 2012 campaign for the presidency. He’ll be the first major contender with an official campaign; the other candidates have generally setup exploratory committees rather than full-bore presidential bids.
Because of his strong name recognition from his stint as speaker of the House in the ‘90s, news organizations tend to group Gingrich among the leading contenders. But polls consistently show him trailing other top-tier candidates (Donald Trump averages more than twice Gingrich’s support), and he only outperforms newcomers like Michele Bachmann or Mitch Daniels by a few percentage points. Voters may recognize Gingrich's face, but they generally don't like what they see. His past is a litany of mistakes and scandals, ranging from his disgraced exit from Congress to his frequent infidelities (being a champion of family values didn't stop Gingrich from leaving his wife on her death bed). He appeals to neither dominant wing of the modern Republican Party: Washington elites blame the late '90s Republican backlash on Gingrich, and his history of flipping on issues such as climate change will offend the pure Tea Party faction.
Of course, it is wise to reserve judgment until Gingrich fully jumps into the presidential field. He's frequently toyed with running for the presidency in the past, only to change his mind at the last minute. In March it was expected that Gingrich would announce an exploratory committee, only to instead dash reporters' hopes by providing a wishy-washy statement that he was considering the possibility … of exploring a possible campaign. Successful presidential campaigns require convincing the public you are the best person for the job, which Gingrich will have to prove after his previous indecisiveness.
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