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Paul Hayden

Might Newt Still Run?

August 13, 2007

Lately, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has adopted a higher profile, touring while promoting his new co-written novel about the Pearl Harbor attack and its aftermath and sharpening his critique of the Democrat presidential candidates-especially the junior senator from New York.

At last week's Sean Hannity Freedom Concert in Cincinnati, Gingrich gave a short but impassioned speech about the power of the voting public in affecting legislation, citing their recent success in getting the illegal immigration bill defeated. Gingrich encouraged the crowd to maintain their level of activism by, in part, joining a web conference in late September to submit their ideas for better government to him. Could this conference be a prelude to a presidential run?

Gingrich may have seen the opportunity to talk tough on illegal immigration as too good to pass up, since also present at the Hannity event was Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who has recently been criticized by fellow candidate Mitt Romney for being too soft on the issue while mayor of New York City.

Giuliani received the most enthusiastic cheers from the Cincinnati crowd-after all, he is the front-runner and Gingrich is on the sidelines, at least for now. And Hannity seems to be in the corner of his fellow New Yorker, whom he admittedly knows better than the other candidates and has allayed his own concerns, if not all his fans', on Giuliani's less-than-conservative positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control.

Although Gingrich has solid conservative credentials, he has the baggage of perceived corruption while Speaker that caused him to step down after just four years in that position, and his personal life has not always been exemplary. These issues have kept him on the outside of this campaign, but not necessarily for the duration. The ultimate decision for Gingrich will probably depend heavily on whether (and when) former Senator Fred Thompson enters the race, and how well Thompson does, both popularity-wise and in sticking to a conservative message. If Gingrich sees slippage in either of these areas, he may well step in to attempt wresting the conservative candidate mantle from Thompson. All signs point to Gingrich staying prepared, ready to go full steam ahead if he decides to seek the nomination.

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