Game On!

Rich Galen

5/11/2011 12:01:00 AM - Rich Galen

Newt Gingrich is scheduled to officially announce today that he is a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination.

As most of you know I have worked with, for, and around Newt for most of the past 30 years. He is likely to be among the two smartest people in the room, in any room he is in.

He has 15 ideas a day: 12 are benign; two are brilliant; one is deadly. The secret is sorting them out.

Newt will be 68 years old in June, but he will outwork all of his opponents.

Newt has issues he will have to discuss but, so will all of his primary opponents - different issues, but they all have them. The perfect candidate comes along about once every 2,000 years and this doesn't look to be one of them.

As I said to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza the other day:

"Newt's name ID is 130 percent so just about everyone who has ever even flipped by a cable news channel en route an NCIS rerun knows who he is, and has an opinion of him. He is going to have to convince a lot of people this is the New Newt."

Newt's last major political victory was in November 1994 - 17 years ago. He left Congress in 1998 - 13 years ago. For many younger voters talking about the Gingrich Revolution in winning control of the House for the first time in 40 years is no different than talking about FDR and the New Deal. Ancient history.

Can Newt win the nomination? Sure.

He will likely have three significant opponents - four if Gov. Mitch Daniels gets in: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman - all former Governors.

Let's take them one at a time.

Mitt Romney is the frontrunner until he's not the frontrunner. Any poll which shows Donald Trump as leading for the GOP nomination is not a useful measure of reality.

Romney has been through this before which is a pretty big advantage. He knows what was wrong with his campaign four years ago and, assuming it will be better run his background as a very successful businessman will serve him in good stead if the economy remains weak as it appears it will.

Romney - along with Gingrich and Obama - has the additional advantage of being identifiable by his first name alone. Couldn't hurt.

Can he win the nomination? Sure.

Tim Pawlenty has been running for President for about a year. He hired a bunch of big name Republicans through his political action committee and was the only "A" list contender to appear at the first GOP debate in South Carolina last week.

Pawlenty is unknown to just about everyone who doesn't sound like they stepped out of a movie titled "Fargo" which means he can introduce himself to voters without their needing to unlearn what they may have thought they'd known about him before.

The question is: What does Pawlenty bring to the table? Experience - a draw; excitement - none; vision - not yet determined; fund raising ability - he's raised enough to have started early and remain in the game.

Can he win the nomination? Sure.

Fourth among those who have indicated they will run is Jon Huntsman who was Governor of Utah and has worked in the Administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Huntsman has the same advantage as the most popular person in many NFL stadiums: The backup quarterback. He hasn't thrown any interceptions and he hasn't fumbled a snap from center.

Huntsman will have to establish a workable and believable theory of his campaign fairly quickly or he will be relegated to the second tier by mid-June and will have a tough time climbing out of it.

Can he win the nomination? Sure.

So, who will be the GOP nominee? No idea.

At this point in 2007 Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama 36 - 28, and we know how that turned out.