- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he had a “chance to win” the presidency next year but doesn’t regret not joining the 2008 Republican primary field.

“I think we would clearly have been competitive financially within three weeks, and we literally had not even set up the Web site yet,” the Georgia Republican said during an appearance yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“But what hit me was it would have been an underdog campaign. I mean, clearly, if you were going to come from behind, I think it would have been a real campaign. I think we would have had a chance to win.”

Mr. Gingrich said he’d already received “several million” in pledges toward a potential campaign and so far has refused to endorse any of the Republican candidates.

He said he decided not to run because campaign-finance laws would prevent him from running his American Solutions for Winning the Future organization while seeking his party’s presidential nomination.

“To give up and kill an organization we spent a year on and that had 2,000 sites around the country where people had now invested their time and effort just to look at whether or not you could run, I thought would be irresponsible,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Gingrich said he considers Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, the “most likely” candidate to win the White House next year, although he expects the race to be close.

“I think Senator Clinton, in the end, is such a polarizing figure that while I think she’s the most likely winner, I don’t think she’s likely to be a landslide winner under the circumstances,” he said.

Recently, Mr. Gingrich hinted that he was favoring a campaign by former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and wouldn’t run himself if Mr. Thompson was a consensus candidate for conservatives.

But when asked which Republicans were best representing his call for change, Mr. Gingrich cited former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I think both Giuliani and Romney are beginning to articulate really dramatic change. I think that Thompson has not yet,” he said.

Mr. Gingrich also said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could become competitive if his fundraising improves. “He’s probably the best performer in terms of giving speeches and being appealing.”

Only a week before walking away from the race, Mr. Gingrich said he was giving himself an Oct. 21 deadline to decide on running, largely based on whether he could raise $30 million in fundraising pledges toward a campaign.

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