Des Moines, Iowa - My Newt credentials are pretty well known, but for those who might have come in late here is a brief summary:
* Public Affairs Director of the NRCC - responsibility for working with Newt, 1982.
- Press Secretary to the House Republican Whip, 1989.
- Ran the press operation for election night, 1994.
- Communications Director for the Speaker's Political shop, 1996.
- Executive Director of GOPAC, 1998.
* To name some of the high spots.
* When I signed on with Fred Thompson there were bloggers - and reporters - who claimed that act was evidence that Newt was not going to run for President. I said that was the pundi-cratic equivalent adding 2 and 2 and coming up with Pi because I had never discussed with Newt his plans for running - or not running - for President in 2008.
* There is a huge difference between being a potential candidate for President and an actual candidate for President.
* On Friday, to review the bidding, Newt's office sent out an advisory directing reporters to a Monday briefing with Newt's Lawyer, Randy Evans, in Atlanta who would be laying out the plan for a one-month evaluation into the feasibility of Newt raising $30 million to finance a race for President.
* On Saturday morning, Newt announced he would NOT be running for President.
* Prior to this past weekend's Newtonian weirdness, whenever I was asked about Newt running I said more-or-less the same thing:
Newt has stated he has a continuing interest in "framing the debate" among the Presidential candidates and there is no one (with the possible exception of Bill Clinton) who, by simply making a statement on a Sunday morning news program, can force Republican and Democratic candidates to respond to an idea.
So long as he remained a potential candidate, Newt would be called upon by Russert, Schieffer, Stephanopoulos, et. al. to use his impressive intellectual and analytical skills to talk about large issues.
The second, though, that he became an actual candidate the discussion with the press corps would immediately shift from his plans for America's future to a review of all 417 (or whatever the number was) ethics charges which had been launched by House Democrats against Newt as Whip and Speaker.
The fact that all but two were dismissed has having no merit - and one of those two was because he had neglected to list his co-signing a mortgage application for one of his daughters to purchase a house - would be lost in the blizzard.
By the time the explanations were finished, I said, it would next June.
* On Saturday, after the "I'm not running" announcement came out, I called Newt's spokesman, Rick Tyler to find out what the deal was. Tyler said that the same lawyer who was going to run the evaluation on Friday had concluded by Saturday that Newt could not maintain his position as the head of his American Solutions organization while plotting a political campaign for President.
* On ABC's "This Week" Newt said,
"We were informed yesterday morning that [under the terms of McCain-Feingold] if I had any communication with American Solutions after I became a candidate, it was a criminal offense."
* Newt did not say (or the summary of his appearance on the ABC.com website did not report) who the "we" was nor who had done the informing.
* It is possible that Newt had his press shop send out the advisory on Friday without actually talking with Evans and making certain that Evans wanted to take on that role, but the level of detail in the advisory regarding things like the contact person at Evans' law firm for the press to get further details makes that unlikely.
* It is also possible that Evans got caught up in Newt's fervor on Friday - everyone in Newt World is guilty of that at one time or another - but Evans has been around Newt for a long time and has been known as being a reliably steady hand on the rudder.
* Assuming Al Gore doesn't suddenly decide the country wants him back, Newt's announcement means the Presidential field is set and a little over 14 weeks from today we will all be back here in Des Moines for the Iowa Caucuses as the official process of choosing nominees will begin.
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