Gingrich: I'll Decide in September

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT

( - Taking a swipe at politicians who already have declared plans to run for president in 2008, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that he would decide in September whether to seek the Republican nomination.

Gingrich promised conservatives gathered at a conference in Washington that he would make a decision "around Labor Day."

"I think this whole process is stupid," he told the National Review Institute's Conservative Summit, referring to the fact that presidential campaigns are being launched almost two years before the election. Early announcements are "entirely consultant-driven ... and let me tell you, consultants are not friends of the conservative movement," he said.

Gingrich pointed out that two of the 20th century's most popular presidents did not find it necessary to declare their candidacies two years in advance.

Ronald Reagan waited until November 13, 1979 to announce his candidacy in the 1980 presidential election. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy January 2, 1960. Gingrich noted that Kennedy's announcement -- a full 10 months before the election -- was the earliest of any in American history at the time.

"It would be historically wrong to spend all of 2007 raising money in order to run in 2008 in order to take office in January 2009," Gingrich said. He encouraged candidates and other elected officials to spend the next year "talking about solutions as Americans."

"We don't need the two parties running off into corners to yell at each other," he said.

Gingrich called on conference attendees to initiate a conservative groundswell similar to the one he led in 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress during the Clinton administration.

"There are 511,000 elective offices in the United States," he said. "A genuine wave of reform has to come across the nation, not just be in two or three presidential campaign headquarters."

Gingrich has established American Solutions, an organization he described "a deliberate effort to renew, revitalize and re-launch the Goldwater-Reagan Contract with America movement by going back to its source: the citizen activists, communities and states that built the American conservative movement."

While Gingrich has delayed making an announcement about his political future, he said one of the things that would tempt him would be the chance to debate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gingrich welcomed "the prospect of seven or ten or twelve dialogues next fall with Hillary, because I don't believe the left could survive in an open and honest dialogue about the difference in the values of the two systems."

Sen. Clinton is regarded as the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

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