Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) announced Thursday that he was opening an exploratory bid for the Republican presidential campaign.
He is the first major Republican to do so.
Gingrich and his wife, Callista, released a statement on their new website newtexplore2012.com.
“We are excited about exploring whether there is sufficient support for my potential candidacy for President of this exceptional country,” the statement statement said.
Gingrich outlined some of his core principles in a brief appearance at the Georgia state Capitol Thursday.
“We believe that America’s best years are actually ahead of us,” he said. “We believe it is possible through the right policies with the right values to create dramatically more jobs with dramatically higher incomes.”
“We believe it is possible to reestablish American exceptionalism as the core value of this country, that has made it so unique and has attracted people from all over the world.”
He continued: “We believe it is possible to dramatically shrink government in Washington, to get back to a balanced budget, and to create the kind of economy that draws from 9.6 or more percent unemployment, down to four percent unemployment which is the first and biggest step to get back to a balanced budget.”
“We are today establishing a website, newexplore2012.com,” he added. “We will look at this seriously, and we will very methodically lay out the framework of what we will do next, and we think they key is to have citizens who understand this is going to take a lot of us for a long time working together.”
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (.pdf) found Gingrich was supported by 13 percent of Republicans. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Mitt Romney, (R-MA), and Sarah Palin (R-AK) all enjoyed more support.
Gingrich also has a lot of work to do to get the vote of top conservatives.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) declared Wednesday that he wasn’t likely to support Gingrich in the primary.
“The question to me is, does he have the capability to lead the country?” he told C-SPAN. “And having served under him in the House, he is probably not one that I would choose to support in a presidential primary.”
“He’s the last person I’d vote for for president of the United States,” Coburn told the Tulsa World in August. “His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president.”
Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, revealed to Esquire that same month how the former speaker had presented his first wife with the terms of their divorce while she was in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer.
Fox News had employed Gingrich as a paid contributor, but suspended him and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) Wednesday.
This video is from The Associated Press, broadcast March 3, 2011.
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