Newt Gingrich, Seeking Presidency, Promises New ‘Contract’

Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the latest entrant into the 2012 Republican presidential race, says he will offer a new “Contract With America” similar to the 1994 document that helped him become the first Republican House speaker in 40 years.

Gingrich, who formally announced his candidacy yesterday, said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that he would ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to join him with an agenda that a Republican Congress would pass and a Republican president would sign into law.

“If we had a contract in the fall of 2012 and we had an election on core principles, we would have a mandate on the very first day,” said Gingrich, 67.

The former House speaker talked about the need to “win the future,” parroting a line that President Barack Obama -- the Democrat Gingrich is seeking to unseat -- used in his State of the Union speech to Congress in January and that he has occasionally recycled since then.

“This is about millions of Americans deciding we can win the future with the right policies leading to the right outcomes,” Gingrich said on Fox. “President Obama has the wrong policies leading to the wrong outcomes.”

Contract With America

Gingrich presented the first Contract With America at the Capitol in 1994, promising a vote on its 10 items if the Republicans won the majority in the House. They did, and in January 1995 he became the first Republican House speaker since Representative Joe Martin of Massachusetts, who served in the post from 1953 to 1955. Gingrich’s official portrait at the Capitol depicts him holding the original contract.

In 1997, Gingrich was reprimanded by the House and paid $300,000 to settle claims that he had used tax-exempt organizations for political purposes and had given misleading statements during an investigation. He announced his resignation from Congress in November 1998 after the House Republicans saw their majority shrink in the second consecutive election.

As speaker, he championed the House’s impeachment of President Bill Clinton over the president’s relationship with a White House intern. The Senate acquitted Clinton. It later was disclosed that while promoting Clinton’s impeachment, Gingrich was having an extramarital affair with a congressional staff member, who became his third wife in 2000.

Republican Contenders

Gingrich is the first among the more prominent prospective Republican White House contenders to formally declare his candidacy.

Four other Republicans have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to raise money for their presidential campaigns and are expected to soon officially announce that they are running for president. They include two former governors -- Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts -- along with former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Others considering a run include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee; Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite; real estate developer Donald Trump; Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels; and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who returned to the U.S. last month after serving as Obama’s ambassador to China.

Herman Cain, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Godfather’s Pizza Inc., and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also have declared their candidacies. They joined Pawlenty, Paul and Santorum for the campaign’s first debate on May 5 in South Carolina.

Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, a Democrat-turned-Republican, has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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