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Gingrich Brings Strengths, Weaknesses to US Presidential Nomination Bid

Voters in the United States will begin the process of choosing the next president January 3rd in the state of Iowa, where Republicans will gather in groups and vote for candidates running for their party’s nomination.  One of the leading contenders is Newt Gingrich.

For decades Newt Gingrich has been one of America’s best known Republican politicians and now, at the age of 68, he wants the nation’s top job. “I am announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” he announced.

Gingrich says he has the best chance among Republicans of beating the incumbent.  “Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on in trying to defend a record that is terrible and an ideology that is radical,” he stated.

Gingrich burst on the national political scene when he led Republicans to success in the 1994 congressional election, ending 40 years of majority rule by the Democratic Party.

He was rewarded by being elected Speaker of the House.

A self-described revolutionary, he is known for coming up with big ideas to solve America’s problems.

“The energy and the revolutionary character are the strength, but there are some doubts as to whether he will be a stable, solid candidate who will withstand a long campaign because of those same traits,” Political scientist John Fortier said.

Early in his campaign Gingrich had to answer questions about a high flying lifestyle, including millions of dollars in private jet travel.

That includes a million-dollar home outside of Washington and expensive jewelry from Tiffany’s for his wife.

A luxury cruise through the Greek Isles during the campaign led much of his senior staff to resign, and his campaign plunged into debt.

“Newt Gingrich is a wonderful off-the-cuff [impromptu] guy.  He is a horrible political organizer and does not have any [campaign] money," explained Professor Allan Lichtman of American University.  

Gingrich has also had to deal with questions about his personal life.

He has been married three times and has acknowledged having extramarital affairs.

“In my case I have said up-front openly I have made mistakes at times," Gingrich acknowledges. "I have had to go to God for forgiveness.  I have had to seek reconciliation.”  

In early December, Gingrich had a strong lead in opinion polls, but that advantage eroded recently following a furious barrage of negative ads from his opponents.

Ron Paul Campaign Commercial: “Newt Gingrich, this guy hasn’t got skeletons in his closet; he’s got a whole graveyard in there.”

Through it all, Gingrich has pledged to remain positive.

Gingrich Campaign Commercial: “These are challenging and important times for America. We want and deserve solutions. Others seem to be more focused on attacks rather than moving the country forward.”

Republican voters have changed their minds repeatedly in the early months of the campaign.

As Gingrich heads to the first contest in Iowa, two-thirds of likely voters in a CBS News survey say they are still willing to change their minds. 

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