Newt Gingrich says he will run for president if he can convince people to donate $30 million, according to the Washington Times. As hard as it is to believe, Gingrich claims that “more and more people have been approaching me about running.” (Apparently Mike Huckabee didn’t get the memo: the struggling second-tier candidate is letting Gingrich guest-blog on his campaign web site.)
The former House speaker has been dancing around the 2008 campaign for almost a year, practicing his platitudes through a project called American Solutions for Winning the Future, which has also allowed him to gather a mailing list. Gingrich threatened to announce his candidacy if the GOP’s “pathetic” bunch of “pygmies” don’t shape up, but only after Solutions Day, his futuristic holiday scheduled for this very week, when Gingrich “will outline the challenges facing our country and how to address these challenges through fundamental transformational change. Real change requires real change.”
Most of the “workshops” organized for Solutions Day appear to be house parties hosted by Gingrich fans, but at least one features a far-right celebrity: The Texas chapter of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity will feature David Barton, a Republican activist and pseudo-historian known for promoting the idea of a “Christian nation” and the claim that the separation of church and state is a “myth.”
For supporters of American Solutions—aside from those who were bowled over by the “Real change requires real change” rhetoric—Gingrich may represent a conservative ideal embodied in his reputation for hard-line partisanship during the Clinton Administration. But that ideal is also embodied in the career Gingrich pursued after his growing unpopularity and scandal-ridden fall from grace—a novelist of books in which the Confederacy beat the Union at Gettsyburg. “Alternate history” may be effective in fiction, but such a strategy seems likely to be less compelling in a real political campaign, even with Gingrich’s futuristic makeover.
Which leads Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman to speculate that Republicans may nominate Gingrich as a “postmodern Goldwater”—a reference to the 1964 candidate who stuck by his far-right principles and went down in electoral flames, but inspired the Right to create the conservative movement that would elect Ronald Reagan 16 years later. Gingrich, writes Darman, may be positioning himself as “a candidate conservatives can be proud to vote for in a year when they face near-certain defeat.” But before GOP voters take that step, they may want to listen to the advice of one reviewer of Gingrich’s book: “Readers should be forewarned … they may come away from this exciting novel believing events really did happen this way.”