Matt Towery

 Why? Because he is independent, outspoken and a war hero. He might actually win, which could fatally loosen the current GOP machine's grip on things. They would rather see McCain go the route of war hero Bob Dole, who lost.

 McCain's problems are not just with the "leadership." He also has a voting record that has sometimes been left of center. He has made a career of giving heartburn to his party and his fellow GOP senators.

 He's actually my kind of candidate -- which is probably the kiss of death for the man.

 Enter Gingrich. He'll likely face a roster of fresh, new faces, such as McCain, Virginia Sen. George Allen, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and others.

 But other than McCain, Gingrich will likely be the only candidate to have run for president before.

 You read right. Prior to his quick exit as speaker, the Gingrich organization was gearing up to run for president in 2000.

 Even today, Gingrich's top political guru, Joe Gaylord, has myriad political ties to GOP activists in Iowa, where Gaylord grew up. That's where the road to the White House begins in our electoral system, of course.

 And then there's that little debate Gingrich had with Bill Clinton in New Hampshire years ago. That state is the second leg on the presidential nomination marathon. Let's just say that Newt and his people took a real shining to the place. Ever since, he's more or less camped out there when not speaking or pontificating for big dollars elsewhere.

 The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are quirky events, and quirky things can happen. Ask Jimmy Carter.

 In Iowa, the "new Newt" will be on display. That's the Newt who's now a grandfather. The one that smiles and laughs more than before, and tries hard to be more like "one of the people."

 If he doesn't catch on there, he may in New Hampshire. The contrarian voters there might just go for a "smart guy"" to counter "the smart-but-dangerous" Hillary.

 Remember, too, that Gingrich is the last Republican congressional leader to have spearheaded the passage of a boatload of conservative legislation. Not much has happened in Congress since.

 One upset win for this "unpopular" policy wonk with the successful political past, and it will be off to the primaries in the South. The Georgian Gingrich might establish "home-field advantage" there.

 There are past mistakes, including divorces, for him to contend with. But that's true of others, including McCain, Giuliani and Allen.

 A Gingrich nomination is a long shot, and a Gingrich presidency even more of one.

 But there are signs of a serious Gingrich run already. When the scandal-plagued, Republican-controlled House of Representatives came under fire this week, I noticed that the Associated Press story about how bad the damage to the GOP could be included commentary by none other than a Gingrich protege.

 Is it possible that Newt Gingrich could become the presidential analogy to the film "The Producers," in which a movie production is launched with the intention of failure but instead becomes a hit?

 This much I know for sure: If it happens, I'll know the script before it hits the big screen.

 And I won't be asked to audition.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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