Gingrich (R) Will Not Run; Gore (D) Still Being Mentioned
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich officially cancelled the idea of entering the presidentialrace today, after figuring out that he can't both explore a bid for president and remain as head of his tax exempt organization, American Solutions (for Winning the Future).
Gingrich was the last major candidate-in-the-wings on the GOP side. Christopher Hitchens argued in Salon this week that Al Gore still falls in that category on the Democratic side, with his final decision not to be made until the Nobel Peace Prizes are announced on October 12th.
As a candidate, Gingrich would have been somewhat hampered by his turbulent personal life and his unceremonious departure from Congress after the GOP's dismal performance in the 1998 midterm elections. After serving as the public face of the GOP-led unsuccessful impeachment of Bill Clinton, he came to be viewed as a highly divisive figure. However, conservative Ohioans still revere his role in developing the Contract with America and the groundbreaking GOP victory in the 1994 midterm elections. Since leaving Congress he has largely rehabilitated himself with the GOP base through his public activities as a commentator and advocate.
If Gore does decide to run, it will be fascinating to see whether Ohioans respond well him on the basis of his Academy Award, best-selling book and popular movie, and (if it happens) Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly an impressive and unprecedented string of accomplishments for a presidential candidates. He did win the majority of popular votes in the 2000 presidential election, and history has vindicated his strong positions about global warming and against the war in Iraq. However, it is difficult to overcome the stigma of losing a presidential election, and his performance on the campaign trail in 2000 is not highly regarded. Still, I know from personal experience that among Democratic activists in Ohio he has a strong following.