Video: Gingrich set to announce 2012 run

  1. Closed captioning of: Gingrich set to announce 2012 run

    >> well.

    >>> the gop field is starting to take shape. with former house speaker newt gingrich throwing his hat into the ring today. chuck todd is the white house correspondent and political director. chuck, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. over the last month the busiest presidential candidate was the incumbent, barack obama . the republican field has been unformed, but all of that begins changing today. president obama worked crowds in kx tuesday, raising money in the push for a second term.

    >> now is the time where you can help shape this campaign, just like you did the first time. make sure we get out of the gate strong.

    >> reporter: the president had a bounce in his step thanks to polls after the killing of president obama . a new poll shows dissatisfaction over the president's handing of the economy lingering with 37% approving of the job he's doing, giving republicans a clear opening in 2012 . few big name contenders have stepped up. former house speaker newt gingrich makes his candidacy official today with an announcement on twitter and facebook. he's trying to confront some of the marital problems by making his third wife calista, a center piece of the t campaign. while donald trump captured most of the headlines, only minnesota governor tim pawlenty appeared among relative unknowns. rick san to rum, gary johnson , and ron paul among others.

    >> how many people here would use heroine if it were legal? oh, yeah, i don't want to use it so i need laws.

    >> reporter: staying off the trail is a lesson learned.

    >> last year they got in early, spent $8 million on overhead when the voters weren't paying attention.

    >> reporter: mitt romney says he's still, quote, exploring a bit, is giving a major speech aimed at convincing conservatives that his health care plan in massachusetts was different from the one president obama signed into law. romney's problems with the conservatives and the weakness of the field have republicans like house speaker john boehner pining for more karz mat tick choices. he said this about chris christie .

    >> he does a good job and speaks english, plain talk .

    >> reporter: and this about mitch daniels .

    >> another person with a track record of reform in this state, the kind of reforms we need in washington, d.c.

    >> reporter: matt, we still have a lot of decisions we are awaiting on the republican side from sarah palin to mike huckabee who's still dominating polls to john huntsman, president obama 's former ambassador to china.

updated 5/11/2011 8:10:42 AM ET 2011-05-11T12:10:42

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Republican powerhouse in the 1990s, announced that he was joining the race for the party's presidential nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

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The deeply conservative Gingrich ranks among the best-known Republicans in the still-forming group of candidates for next year's contest for the White House.

Story: The 2012 GOP presidential field

He also brings considerable negative political baggage: three marriages, resignation under an ethics cloud while leader of the House and a tendency to shoot-from-the-hip when speaking.

In 1994, Gingrich led the Republican Party to its first House majority in 40 years. But any Republican candidate could face insurmountable difficulties in defeating the incumbent Obama, who remains personally popular with Americans and has seen his job approval rating rise notably in the early days after the killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

Story: Poll: Economy fears temper Obama's bin Laden bump

Obama was expected to raise as much as $1 billion to finance his bid for re-election and has proven himself a highly effective campaigner.

History would suggest a difficult path for Gingrich. While many former presidents and candidates for that office have served in the House, the last president to have served as House Speaker was James K. Polk, a Tennessee Democrat, in 1844.

Successful presidential candidates more often move into the job from the vice presidency, the Senate or the governorship of one of the 50 states.

Story: Lesser-knowns get spotlight at GOP presidential debate

Gingrich has made no secret of his White House ambitions. He has been raising money and assembling a campaign team for months and has traveled frequently to states that hold early presidential primary elections or caucuses. Doing well in early primaries is considered necessary for a candidacy to prosper.

"I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich wrote Monday in his official announcement on Facebook and Twitter. He said he would talk more about his bid Wednesday on Fox News.

Comeback attempt
Getting into the race marks a comeback attempt by the former congressman from Georgia who stepped down from the House after four tumultuous years in the top position as speaker.

A spending fight between Gingrich and President Bill Clinton led to a shutdown of part of the federal government in 1995 and 1996. He left Congress in 1999.

Story: Iowa GOP donors court New Jersey's Christie

Since then, he has established a network of nonprofit and lucrative business ventures. He also has churned out a steady stream of books and made frequent speaking engagements.

In recent months Gingrich has lambasted Obama's federal health care reform law and has criticized the Democrat's foreign policy as "clueless."

Gingrich is dogged by extramarital affairs and having been married three times. He has been working to make inroads with social conservatives critical to the Republican primary base, highlighting his conversion to Roman Catholicism after marrying his third wife, Callista.

Story: Gingrich's third wife to take central role in presidential bid

He also has been criticized as a glib political figure who is not long on consistency in public statements. He calls for a muscular approach to combating terrorism. But he was widely mocked recently for an about-face on Libya policy. First he said he would "exercise a no-fly zone" and get rid of Moammar Gadhafi. Two weeks later, he said: "I would not have intervened. ... I would not have used American and European forces."

This year has been highly unusual in that possible Republican candidates are very late in announcing their intentions.

While the initial field is expected to be crowded, it also is more divided than usual, given that the mainstream of the party faces a splintering off of ultraconservative Tea Party factions and others with extreme populist or libertarian messages.

Story: Big GOP donors adopt wait-and-see 2012 tack

According to Gallup polling records dating back to 1952, when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the party standard-bearer, the Republicans never have been without a leading candidate at this stage in the campaign cycle.

So far and in addition to Gingrich, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have taken the first official step by forming campaign exploratory committees. About a dozen Republicans are believed to be contemplating a candidacy.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explainer: The 2012 GOP presidential field

  • A look at the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Barack Obama in the general election.

  • Rick Perry, announced Aug. 13

    Image: Perry
    Sean Gardner  /  REUTERS
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry

    Mere hours before a major GOP debate in Iowa (and a couple of days before the high-interest Ames straw poll), the Perry camp announced that the Texas governor was all-in for 2012.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas governor.

    While some on ground in the early-caucus state criticized the distraction, strategists applauded the move and said Perry was giving Romney a run for his money.

    Slideshow: A look at Gov. Rick Perry's political career

    He may face fierce opposition from secular groups and progressives who argue that his religious rhetoric violates the separation of church and state and that his belief that some groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, should be allowed to discriminate against gays is bigoted.

  • Jon Huntsman, announced June 21

    Image: Jon Hunt
    Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

    Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, made his bid official on June 21 at at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former governor of Utah.

    He vowed to provide "leadership that knows we need more than hope" and "leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems."

    The early days of his campaign were clouded with reports of internal discord among senior staffers.

    Slideshow: Jon Huntsman Jr.

    Huntsman, who is Mormon, worked as a missionary in Taiwan and is fluent in Mandarin. But his moderate credentials — backing civil unions for gays and the cap-and-trade energy legislation — could hurt him in a GOP primary. So could serving under Obama.

  • Michele Bachmann, announced on June 13

    Image: Michele Bachmann
    Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
    Rep. Michele Bachmann

    Born and raised in Iowa, this Tea Party favorite and Minnesota congresswoman announced during a June 13 GOP debate that she's officially in the running for the Republican nomination.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Minn. congresswoman.

    Bachmann tells The Associated Press she decided to jump into the 2012 race at this time because she believed it was "the right thing to do."

    She's been criticized for making some high-profile gaffes — among them, claiming taxpayers would be stuck with a $200 million per day tab for President Barack Obama's trip to India and identifying New Hampshire as the site of the Revolutionary War's opening shots.

    Slideshow: The political life of Michele Bachmann

    But Bachmann's proved a viable fundraiser, collecting more than $2 million in political contributions in the first 90 days of 2011 — slightly exceeding the $1.8 million Mitt Romney brought in via his PAC in the first quarter.

  • Rick Santorum, announced on June 6

    Image: Rick Santorum
    Charlie Neibergall  /  AP file
    Former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum

    A staunch cultural conservative vehemently against abortion and gay marriage, the former Pennsylvania senator hopes to energize Republicans with a keen focus on social issues.

    He announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on FOX News, where he makes regular appearances. He make his run official on June 6 in Somerset, Pa., asking supporters to "Join the fight!"

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Pennsylvania senator.

    No stranger to controversy, Santorum was condemned by a wide range of groups in 2003 for equating homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and bestiality. More recently, Santorum faced criticism when he called Obama’s support for abortion rights “almost remarkable for a black man.”

    Slideshow: Rick Santorum's political life

    Since his defeat by Democrat Robert Casey in his 2006 re-election contest — by a whopping 18 percentage points — Santorum has worked as an attorney and as a think-tank contributor.

    A February straw poll at CPAC had him in twelfth place amongst Republicans with 2 percent of the vote.

  • Mitt Romney, announced on June 2

    Image: Mitt Romney
    Paul Sancya  /  AP file
    Former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney

    The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate has spent the last three years laying the foundations for another run at the White House — building a vigorous political action committee, making regular media appearances, and penning a policy-heavy book.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Mass. governor.

    In April, he announced, via YouTube and Twitter, that he'd formed an exploratory commitee. Romney made his run official in Stratham, N.H., on June 2.

    The former CEO of consulting firm Bain & Company and the president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney frequently highlights his business background as one of his main qualifications to serve as president.

    Slideshow: Mitt Romney's life in politics

    To capture the nomination, Romney will have to defend the health care overhaul he enacted during his governorship — legislation that bears similarities to the Obama-backed bill despised by many conservatives. He'll also have to overcome the perception of being a flip-flopper (like supporting abortion rights in his 1994 and 2002 bids for office, but opposing them in his '08 run).

    In the first quarter of 2011, he netted some $1.8 million through his PAC "Free and Strong America."

  • Herman Cain, announced on May 21

    Image: Herman Cain
    Brendan Smialowski  /  Getty Images file
    Talk show host Herman Cain

    Cain, an Atlanta radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has support from some Tea Party factions.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Atlanta radio host.

    An African-American who describes himself as a “citizen’s candidate,” he was the first Republican to form a formal presidential exploratory committee. He officially entered the race in May, telling supporters, "When we wake up and they declare the presidential results, and Herman Cain is in the White House, we'll all be able to say, free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, this nation is free at last, again!"

    Prior to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, Cain rehashed the birther theory, telling a Florida blogger, “I respect people that believe he should prove his citizenship ... He should prove he was born in the United States of America.”

  • Ron Paul, announced on May 13

    Image: Ron Paul
    Cliff Owen  /  AP file
    Rep. Ron Paul

    In 2008, Texas congressman Ron Paul’s libertarian rallying cry — and his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — did not fall on deaf ears. An idiosyncratic foe of the Federal Reserve and a passionate advocate for limited government, Paul mounted a presidential run that was characterized by bursts of jaw-dropping online fundraising.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas congressman.

    Slideshow: Ron Paul

    He officially launched his 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, saying, ""The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building ... Our time has come."

    In the first quarter of 2011, raked in some $3 million through his various political organizations.

  • Newt Gingrich, announced on May 11

    Image: Newt Gingrich
    John M. Heller  /  Getty Images file
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

    The former speaker of the House who led the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” Gingrich remains a robust presence on the GOP stage as a prolific writer and political thinker. In recent years, Barack Obama has provided a new target for the blistering critiques Gingrich famously leveled at President Bill Clinton.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former speaker of the House.

    In early May, he made his 2012 run official. "I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

    But a month later, the campaign was practically in ruins — with his campaign manager, spokesman, senior strategists all resigning en masse. Most cited issues with the "direction" of the campaign. But Gingrich vowed to press on.

    Slideshow: Newt Gingrich

    Also at issue: Gingrich’s personal life could make winning the support of social conservatives thorny for the twice-divorced former lawmaker. In a damning interview earlier this year, Esquire quoted one of Gingrich’s former wives describing him as a hypocrite who preached the sanctity of marriage while in the midst of conducting an illicit affair.

    Additional obstacles include his recent criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan as “right-wing social engineering" and reports of a $500,000 line of credit to Tiffany’s, the luxury jewelry company.

  • Gary Johnson, announced on April 21

    Image:Gary Johnson
    Jim Cole  /  AP
    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

    The former New Mexico governor took a big leap in late April, not by announcing an exploratory committee, but by actually announcing his official candidacy. “I’m running for president of the United States,” he told a couple of supporters and cameramen gathered for his announcement outside the New Hampshire State Capitol.

    He's a steadfast libertarian who supports the legalization of marijuana. He vetoed more than 700 pieces of legislation during his two terms as governor.


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