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Newt Gingrich makes presidential run official

May 11, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Washington   — Now, it's official. Newt Gingrich, a former Georgia congressman who became the first Republican speaker of the House in decades in 1995, announced Wednesday afternoon his candidacy for president in 2012.

"I believe we can return America to hope and opportunity," he says in a YouTube video, in which he refers to both his work with President Reagan and later as speaker, when the federal budget was balanced. "There's a much better American future ahead."

The announcement, teased by aides on Monday, came on Twitter with a link to his official website, which was at times inaccessible because of demand.

Curiously, that website features the slogan, "Winning the Future Together." President Obama has adopted "Winning the Future" as his credo since his State of the Union address in January. But Gingrich has used the phrase in the past; it was the title of his 2005 book.

Wednesday's announcement follows a somewhat muddled roll-out in March of Gingrich's "testing the waters" phase. His campaign had said he would announce an exploratory committee, then denied it. Ultimately he filed paperwork with the IRS, not the Federal Election Commission, to begin raising money under federal limits. The delayed entry allowed Gingrich time to wind down his myriad business interests.

In 1994, Gingrich helped lead the "Republican Revolution," as the party took control of the House for the first time since 1955. He was at the center of bitter political disputes with President Clinton, and presided over the first impeachment of a U.S. president in more than a century.

Like other candidates, Gingrich has vulnerabilities he must confront as he appeals to Republican voters in the next year. Speaking with the Washington Times on Tuesday, Gingrich acknowledged mistakes during his leadership of the House.

"My two biggest mistakes were being undisciplined and that I didn't listen enough," he told the paper. "I am working very diligently to be part of a team and to be sure that the team leaders have a lot of input, along with me."

Gingrich — twice-divorced and a recent convert to Roman Catholicism — has also used his network of political advocacy groups to court evangelical Christians in the past few years.

Gingrich will sit with Sean Hannity for an interview on Fox News Channel on Wednesday night. Friday he'll address the Republican Convention in Georgia, which he represented in Congress. And Sunday he'll sit down with NBC's David Gregory on "Meet The Press."

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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