Opinion Brief

Does Newt Gingrich have a real shot at the presidency?

The former Speaker of the House is on the brink of forming an exploratory committee to run for president. Can he overcome his baggage to nab the GOP nomination?

It looks like Newt Gingrich may indicate his plans for a presidential run within the next two weeks. By March 8, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Republican will form a committee exploring a presidential run, a traditional first step. Can Newt win over GOP voters — and could he defeat President Obama in 2012? (Watch Gingrich answer questions about his personal life)

Don't underestimate Gingrich: "Newt has ideas," says Matt Lewis at Politics Daily, and can communicate them effectively. He's a hard worker and has the "fire in the belly" a candidate needs to endure the "grueling" campaign schedule. Most importantly, "Gingrich also has a proven track record of success that no other Republican can come close to matching." So, although Gingrich comes with "baggage," his other qualities outweigh it."Newt Gingrich for president? Don't underestimate him"

His fate lies with religious conservatives: To win the White House, Gingrich will have to win over religious conservatives, says Richard Allen Green at CNN. And that might be a challenge for a man who has been divorced twice, had his own extramarital affair while criticizing Bill Clinton's with Monica Lewinsky, and "fell from power in an ethics scandal." But Gingrich is "quietly emphasizing" his conversion to Catholicism in 2009 and has been "making headway" with the religious right."Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?"

Which Gingrich will we see? Party strategists believe there is a "Good Newt" and a "Bad Newt," say Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.  Good Newt is "brilliant, brimming with ideas and charismatic." Bad Newt tends to misuse his "rhetorical firepower," deviating from his key message and hurting himself in the process. The question is, Which one will be running? "The answer to that question will determine whether he is a serious top-tier candidate or an also-ran in a year's time.""Good Newt and Bad Newt"

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