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Politics

Rumored Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich Backs Bill McCollum

June 27, 2010 - 6:00pm

Speculation continues that former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is planning a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 -- and his increasingly active profile in Florida politics only increases the buzz.

On Monday, Gingrich, who served as speaker from 1995 until 1999, endorsed Attorney General Bill McCollum over health-care executive Rick Scott for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Gingrich had served with McCollum in Congress from 1981 until 1999.

At a time when the size and scope of government is increasing at an alarming rate, our nation is looking for leaders who will fight for the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint and economic and personal freedom, said Gingrich. Floridians have such a leader in Bill McCollum. Bill is a longtime friend, a tireless public servant, a lifelong conservative, and he will make a great governor. His plan to create 500,000 jobs and revive Floridas economy is exactly what Florida needs.

While Gingrich remains controversial because of his confrontational leadership style during his tenure as House speaker, McCollum, trailing Scott in the polls and looking to shore up his conservative credentials, was grateful for the support from his old boss.

I am pleased to have Speaker Gingrichs support in my campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, said McCollum. I was proud to join Speaker Gingrich in passing his Contract for America and I look forward to building on our success in reforming government when I am elected governor.

McCollum is not the only Florida Republican to get Gingrichs backing. In April Gingrich backed former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican.

After resigning as speaker and from Congress in 1999, Gingrich remained active in public policy and politics, founding the Center for Health Transformation and American Solutions for Winning the Future, a 527 committee. Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism after marrying his third wife, has also been active writing on religion in American life and produced a film about Pope John Paul IIs visit to communist Poland in 1979.

While there was speculation that Gingrich would launch a presidential bid in 2008, he ultimately declined to enter the Republican primaries.

Gingrich is considering a bid for the White House in 2012, when he would be 69. Republicans are showing some support for Gingrichs possible presidential aspirations. Gingrich placed third in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll back in April behind two 2008 candidates -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Gingrich also made a visit to New Hampshire, the first state to hold a presidential primary, last week, feuling speculation that he would run for the presidency in 2012.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.

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