Sunday, September 30, 2007

(AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president next year after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said yesterday.

“Newt is not running,” spokesman Rick Tyler said. “It is legally impermissible for him to continue on as chairman of American Solutions for Winning the Future and to explore a campaign for president.”

The Georgia Republican decided “to continue on raising the challenges America faces and finding solutions to those challenges” as the group’s chairman, Mr. Tyler said, “rather than pursuing the presidency.”

Mr. Gingrich had stoked speculation he might enter the crowded Republican field, despite the seemingly insurmountable challenge of entering the race several months after the other candidates.

He noted that Republican voters remain unhappy with the candidates and acknowledged that the much-anticipated entry of former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee had been bumpy.

Yet Mr. Gingrich also has spoken positively of Mr. Thompson and of the other leading contenders, including former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Just last week, Mr. Gingrich said he had given himself an Oct. 21 deadline to raise $30 million in pledges for a possible White House bid, acknowledging the task was difficult but not impossible.

He abruptly dropped the idea yesterday, apparently unwilling to give up the chairmanship of American Solutions, the political arm of Mr. Gingrich’s lucrative empire as an author, pundit and consultant.

American Solutions, a tax-exempt committee he started last October, has paid for Mr. Gingrich’s travel and has a pollster and fundraiser on staff. The group has raised more than $3 million, mostly from two benefactors who each gave $1 million: Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and North Carolina real estate developer Fred Godley.

Mr. Gingrich makes hundreds of speeches each year. He will not say how much he charges, and neither will the Washington Speakers Bureau, which books his events. But some clients have said they paid $40,000 for a speech.

He also has a contract with the Fox News Channel for commentaries and specials; Fox said it does not disclose the terms of its contracts.

Mr. Gingrich also is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Gingrich has a daily radio broadcast on more than 400 stations, and he writes a free online newsletter with 200,000 subscribers that is distributed by the conservative newsmagazine Human Events.

He also has a for-profit think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, which grew out of the consulting firm he started after leaving Congress in 1999.

Mr. Gingrich quit Congress when his party, after spotlighting then-President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, lost seats in the 1998 elections. The next year, Mr. Gingrich’s involvement with a congressional aide, Callista Bisek, led to his divorce from his second wife, Marianne. He later married Miss Bisek.

Mr. Gingrich, 64, tried to rehabilitate his image this year by admitting publicly to his extramarital affair during the Clinton impeachment scandal. He made the admission in a March interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and days later he won praise for the acknowledgment from another conservative Christian leader, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died on May 15.

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