Gingrich likely to announce bid for presidency nomination

BY LUKE VOELZ | MARCH 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be the first Republican to take a big step toward a presidential bid.

Gingrich’s lawyer, Randy Evans, said he expects the 67-year-old to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee in the coming days, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

But a local expert said the move likely won’t influence other politicians.

“Other Republicans are thinking about it and have their own calculations, and this may give them the go-ahead to think about entering if that’s what they’re going to do,” said Cary Covington, a University of Iowa political-science associate professor. “[But] their decision will be based on their own timetable and not what other candidates have done.”

Covington said he believes time will be the deciding factor.

“We’re getting closer to January 2012, and that’s when things are going to start happening,” he said. “The closer we get, the more likely candidates are to make that decision to enter their bid.”

Johnson County Republicans Chairman Bob Anderson said he supported Gingrich’s political leanings.

“As party chairman, we have a policy that officers do not endorse candidates,” Anderson said. “But I am happy in the sense that he is one more very credible candidate to the Republican field, standing for strong conservative principles.”

University Democrats President Margaret Murphy said she wasn’t surprised at Gingrich’s expected announcement.

“They’re kind of starting later this year — I’m just curious to see who will formally announce, so hopefully that will start the ball rolling to see who’s going to be enrolling [in a bid.]”

But Paulina Taylor, a member of the Johnson County Democrats said she didn’t support Gingrich’s candidacy.

“It’s a scary thought because of his totally conservative beliefs,” she said.

Gingrich, 67, was elected to Congress in 1978, and he became speaker of the House in 1995. He left Congress in 1999 after Democratic victories in 1998. This experience has garnered praise from local Republicans.

“I think having been Republican speaker of the House and been involved in some of the very major issues of the not too distant past, he would be considered a serious candidate in any field,” Anderson said.

Gingrich has been through Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucus, eight times since May 2010, according to AP. While Gingrich will likely be the first to announce an exploratory committee, several others who are considered strong contenders have visited Iowa City in recent weeks, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

DI reporters Hayley Bruce and Ariana Witt contributed to this report.

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