Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gingrich out of Race, but Will Have Impact

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gingrich out of Race, but Will Have Impact

Article excerpt

House Speaker Newt Gingrich ruled out a 1996 presidential run Monday, leaving a clearly defined field to fight for the GOP nomination and little doubt the speaker himself will be a campaign issue.

It had long been clear that Gingrich was unlikely to join the presidential race, but not until Monday did he completely slam the door. He said he would not endorse a candidate but hoped to serve as chairman of the Republican convention in August in San Diego. Explaining his decision, Gingrich listed the challenge he faces in trying to get a balanced budget through Congress, calling it "one of the most important decisions we've made in domestic government in the last 60 years."

But political calculations also played a part. Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primary are less than three months away, followed by several early primaries.

"I didn't see how I could be both speaker of the House and run a campaign of that scale," Gingrich said.

When asked about the possibility of a presidential run sometime after next year, Gingrich answered: "Let us get through this next year, and we'll see what happens."

His decision - and that of retired Gen. Colin Powell not to run - leaves the GOP field with a clear front-runner, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas. Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, publisher Steve Forbes and commentator Pat Buchanan are among those clamoring for an opening or for a stumble by Dole.

For his part, Dole is working feverishly to create the impression that his nomination is all but inevitable. On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson became the 16th of the 30 Republican governors to endorse Dole. That number could top 20 by the end of the year.

"I think the Dole campaign has turned the corner," said GOP pollster David Hill.

Backers of Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett have been complaining about the quality of the GOP field, but both men have refused to reconsider their decisions against running.

Ross Perot's organization is moving ahead with its effort to form a new party and could field a presidential candidate. Two-time Democratic candidate Jesse Jackson has not ruled out an independent bid. …

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