Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the Obama presidency a "disaster" Monday and said he is more serious than ever about running for president.
Gingrich's remarks came during a fund-raising and training event for local GOP candidates in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I've never been this serious," Gingrich told The Associated Press.
The former speaker predicted that Obama would be a one-term president, and said Obama would displace former President Jimmy Carter as the worst president of modern times, according to the AP report.
Conservatives and political analysts greeted Gingrich's announcement with a blend of enthusiasm and skepticism.
Grover Norquist, the founder of the Americans for Tax Reform organization that urges candidates to commit to the anti-tax Taxpayer Protection Pledge, tells Newsmax he welcomes a Gingrich bid.
"Newt Gingrich, like Ronald Reagan, has spent his adult life building the modern Republican Party," Norquist says. "Newt Gingrich, like Obama, is a community organizer. Newt, however, is on the side of individual liberty."
Richard Viguerie, the conservative direct-mail guru who runs ConservativeHQ.com, said the former speaker has flirted with running for the office several times before. But a Gingrich run this time is a near certainty, he says.
"I think this time is different," Viguerie tells Newsmax. "He's wanted to be president for a long time. I remember him talking to me about it back in the early 80s. If he's ever going to do it, this is the time."
A Gingrich bid would be good for the Republican Party because it will force GOP candidates to be more thoughtful in developing their positions, Viguerie says.
"But I think he's going to have a long road to travel to convince conservatives that, if he were to become president, unlike when he was speaker of the House, that he would now govern as a principled small-government constitutional conservative, which he did not do as speaker," Viguerie tells Newsmax.
Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, remains skeptical that Gingrich is really poised to enter the political fray.
In the past, Sabato says, Gingrich has counseled other potential candidates to drop hints, stringing out their candidacy decisions in order to remain in the limelight.
"Gingrich has been a master of this strategy," Sabato tells Newsmax. "There’s no reason to think he isn’t taking his own advice. Gingrich is a controversial figure who would have to endure a rerun of his public and private life from the 1990s. That is an unwelcome prospect for Gingrich, although if he really thought he could somehow be nominated and win a general election, he would be tempted to jump in."
Gingrich, 67, left little doubt Monday that the temptation would be strong indeed.
His first priority, he said, would be getting as many Republicans as possible elected in the midterms. For Republicans, that clearly is the immediate priority.
"I am in favor of everyone running, and competing by showing how many Republicans they can get elected in 2010," Norquist says.
A decision by Gingrich on whether to run against potential GOP challengers Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee would come early next year.
"It's fair to say that by February the groundwork will have been laid to consider seriously whether or not to run," Gingrich told the AP.
Gingrich's hopes may have been buoyed by a June Des Moines Register poll of nearly 1,800 Iowa Republicans. It showed Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Gingrich to be the three front-runners for the GOP nomination. Sixty-two percent of Iowa Republicans rated Romney favorably, compared with 58 percent for Palin and 56 percent for Gingrich.
Gingrich was in Des Moines for a fundraiser and political workshop on behalf of local GOP candidates. He predicted that President Obama would be unable to make a mid-course correction and tack to the middle to win the votes of moderates and independents the way former President Clinton did.
"He's not like Bill Clinton," Gingrich told the news service. "Bill Clinton was an Arkansas Southern Baptist. [He] sort of understood middle America. While he had some Yale overtones being liberal, the truth is Bill Clinton was quite happy to move to the right."
Gingrich admitted that he considered running for the GOP nomination in 2008. But he said he will take a much more serious look at it this time.
Gingrich remains a beloved figure in many conservative circles, in part because of his role in promulgating the Contract for America that helped Republicans take the House in 1994. Gingrich was selected Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1995.
He frequently battled former President Clinton during his term as speaker, which ended in 1999.
In 2007, Gingrich founded American Solutions for Winning the Future, a tax-exempt organization that supports conservative principles.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey suggests the GOP nomination remains a wide open contest. In a national survey of 401 GOP primary voters, Romney had 25 percent of the vote compared to 22 percent for Huckabee, 19 percent for Palin, and 15 percent for Gingrich.
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