Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Donald Trump would have a good shot in his third presidential bid if he puts his focus on the future rather than the past.
The former president, after months of hinting at a 2024 run, formally announced his bid on Nov. 15 in a prime-time speech at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, outlining a vision for “America’s comeback” that includes stronger foreign policy, lower taxes, fewer regulations, and supply chain independence.
Gingrich, a contributor to The Epoch Times, thought that the tone and the substance of the speech were “very positive,” and “moved him in the right direction.”
“If he is a candidate focused on the future, and he’s a candidate focused on big solutions, and he’s a candidate focused on bringing us together, he will do very, very well,” Gingrich told The Epoch Times.
Arguing over the 2020 election outcome and “being divisive,” on the other hand, would be counterproductive to Trump’s campaign, the former House speaker added.
Overall, Gingrich said Trump had “stuck to the script” in the one-hour-long address.
While he has heard complaints about Trump being “low key” in the speech, Gingrich believed it was the right step for the former president.
“I think it’s good for him to come across as somebody who has thought about things and who is bringing, not just energy, but also some wisdom [as] to what America needs to get done,” he said, describing it as “a reasonably good start.”
“He’s the guy who has all the advantages. If he does well, he will become the nominee and probably president,” Gingrich said.
“The nice thing about politics is it really is a performance test. You have to go out there and you have to actually do it,” he added.
But Trump still has a long road ahead of him to the Oval Office.
“[Trump] has to … prove that he has some big ideas that will change the country and solve the problems that Biden is creating, and to prove that he has thought through a lot about his governing style, and that he’s going to be a calm, positive unifier bringing us together, rather than dividing us,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich admitted that he would have appreciated it if Trump had delayed his announcement until after the Georgia senate runoff on Dec. 6, so as not to take attention away from that race, where Republican candidate Herschell Walker takes on Democrat incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.
While the Democrats have already secured the majority in the upper chamber with 50 seats, the Georgia race still matters.
“The difference between a 50-50 joint majority and a 51-49 Democratic majority is just huge,” he said. “So I think anything which diverts energy away from that is, frankly, a mistake. But President Trump has his own timing, and he has the right to have announced.”
Trump is the first candidate of either party to launch a 2024 run. Many expect that Trump will face stiff challenges from other Republican hopefuls, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“This will be the longest presidential marathon in modern history,” Gingrich said. He believes that as many as a dozen other contenders will “decide on their own pace,” adding that “they’re not forced to announce by Trump announcing.”
There are good reasons for Trump to make the move early, Gingrich believes.
The formal bid would likely shut down any criminal probes from the Justice Department, he said. In addition, Trump “knows he has the biggest nationwide network,” and likely wants to “pile up the largest possible number of endorsements before anybody else starts to play,” according to Gingrich.
“It’s a rational strategy, and we’ll see whether or not it works.”
Gingrich described Trump as “an extraordinarily clever politician.” “He certainly understands the whole country better than probably anybody else, and he’s starting as the front runner,” the former speaker added.
Some Republicans have blamed the former president for the GOP’s disappointing midterm results. But Gingrich is reserving his judgment, saying he’s “still exploring what happened” because the results were “so different from what I thought it would be.”
On the failure to capture a Senate majority, Gingrich agreed with Trump that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was largely responsible.
“Mitch McConnell managed to mess up New Hampshire and Arizona in ways that make no sense at all,” he said.
McConnell has drawn criticism for cutting financial support to Blake Masters and Don Bolduc, GOP senatorial candidates for Arizona and New Hampshire, respectively, who both ultimately lost their races. Weeks before the election, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McConnell, slashed millions of dollars in funding to Masters and Bolduc’s campaigns.
The Epoch Times has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.