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Newt Gingrich ‘set to run for US president’

Newt Gingrich, America’s former House speaker, was expected last night to signal his intention to become a contender in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination — although he stopped short of taking the usual first official step of creating a presidential exploratory committee.

For Mr Gingrich (67), who left Congress more than a decade ago to write books and set up a conservative think-tank, the days leading up to a visit to his home state of Georgia yesterday were marked by confusion. One minute his aides were whispering to reporters that, yes, he would announce an |exploratory committee — the next minute they were retracting it.

It was thanks to Fox News that the world became aware something was afoot, but not through anything it reported. Rather, the Rupert Murdoch-owned network said that Mr Gingrich's long-held gig as a paid on-air pundit was ending.

That Mr Gingrich — who some Americans remember as the conservative nemesis of Bill Clinton during his Presidency (in budget clashes Mr Gingrich forced the federal government to shut down twice) — will run does not seem to be much in doubt.

But his toe-dipping hesitations have only underscored a wider impression that the Republicans are struggling to find anyone able — and willing — to try to block Barack Obama from winning a second term.

Just two months away from the first scheduled debate between Republican hopefuls, no-one among the likely mainstream candidates has formally declared.

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