Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is winning high marks from conservatives and other supporters for taking a low-key approach to his likely 2012 presidential candidacy.
Gingrich, 67, said this week that he is considering a bid and will decide early next year, after testing his political influence in several fall elections.
Associates said that he would get into the GOP primary race if the economy is still sputtering and the public is eager for the type of big ideas he traffics in. "It was a perfectly timed rollout," says one supporter and a conservative with strong ties to House and Senate leaders. "His sense of history informs his bit-by-bit rollout, done carefully so as not to rev the engine too high before this November," said the supporter.
Some worry that Gingrich's past marital issues and other foibles will thwart public support, but supporters believe that a continued poor economy and high joblessness will prompt Americans to look past his personal issues and focus on his ideas to fix the nation's ills in a bipartisan way. They cite how he and Bill Clinton secretly worked to reform Social Security before the Lewinsky affair spoiled that effort. Also, other supporters say that by talking about a bid now, Democratic opposition research efforts will start now and any new issues in his past will be brought out early.