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Newt Gingrich Faces an Uphill Fight but Will Enliven the Race

Newt Gingrich has many handicaps but anonymity is not one of them.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 5/12/2011, 8:04 PM / Last Update: 5/12/2011, 10:20 PM

 Newt Gingrich announced his US presidential candidacy on Facebook and he will make a formal announcement Friday at the Georgia Republican Convention. Gingrich has a great deal going against him. Ronald Reagan was the last successful candidate who entered the white house at around Gingrich's age of 67.

Since then the Republicans have lost when they nominated the older Bob Dole against Bill Clinton in 1996 and John McCain against Barack Obama in 2008. It is not sure that they want to go down that route again. Obviously Gingrich is a vigorous person, but despite the fact that prejudices should not count, the age factor will be held against him both in the primaries and against Obama.

Another interesting question will be whether Gingrich can compete for the committed religious vote in the Republican primaries as he has been married three times and was caught in infidelity at the same time that he led the impeachment fight over the Monica Lewinsky Affair against Bill Clinton.

Gingrich has in later years discovered religion and it remains to be seen whether he can invoke sympathy as did another politician from Georgia Jimmy Carter (a comparison that both Gingrich and Carter would wince at) as a reformed born-again Christian.

What nobody doubts about Gingrich is his intelligence, his originality and his stature as an ideas person within his party. He has a Ph.d in political science and remains a voracious reader. He will seek to recapture the magic of the Contract with  America that secured the Republican Party a majority in congress after the 1994 elections and elevated Gingrich  into the role of house speaker.

He will try to tap into the dominant issue amongst the Republicans, fiscal retrenchment and downsizing government. Aside from Representative Paul Ryan, it is doubtful that anybody can make the intellectual case for these issues as effectively as Gingrich.

With all the buzz about Barack Obama 's being about to give another speech attempting to re-set America's relations with Islam following the removal of Osama bin Laden, it will be interesting to see if Newt Gingrich's sharply contrasting attitude becomes an issue. Gingrich, it may be recalled, sharply opposed the idea of establishing a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero and viewed it as Muslim triumphalism.

Gingrich was willing to consider the idea only if countries such as Saudi Arabia allowed the construction of churches on their soil. He went on:

"The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over," Gingrich wrote.

"America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization."...

Gingrich has also been quite outspoken about the unholy alliance between radical Islam and the left. To him it recalled the blindness exhibited by many on the left towards the Soviet Union.

"The left's refusal to tell the truth about the Islamist threat is a natural parallel to the 70-year pattern of left-wing intellectuals refusing to tell the truth about communism and the Soviet Union. If you go back and look at all the years of disinformation, all the years of denial, that were the left's response to communism, why would you think that the next threat to Western civilization will be more accurately studied? This is why the secular-socialist system is itself such a threat."

Even if Newt Gingrich does not want to this an issue during the campaign he will be forced to do so by liberal commentators.