2012: Newt's in -- kind of!

Initially the word was that today would be decision day, but apparently his team is still trying to figure out how to square his many private political ventures with federal election laws. So instead it’s … website day: Here’s the site, which doesn’t feature much beyond the word “2012,” an invitation to “explore,” and a biggg photo of him and his wife. You know who that’s aimed at and you know why. He’s spent months flirting with a presidential run, and I swear, every single time he’s talked about it publicly that I’ve seen, he describes it as a decision he “and Callista” will have to make. Message discipline. I wonder if he’ll do so much as a single event on the trail without her at his side, as a visual reminder to social cons that he does indeed take traditional values very, very seriously.

His strategy? Hope that Huck and Palin don’t run and then count on the south to vanquish Romney.

Senior advisers have already mapped out Gingrich’s road to the nomination. “He will likely have to do well in two out of the three early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina,” says one Gingrich strategist. “From those contests, one person will emerge as the ‘Mitt Romney alternative.’ We are hoping that it is Newt Gingrich. Even if Romney pours resources into New Hampshire and wins it, we still believe that we can be competitive in Iowa and South Carolina, garnering enough support to move into future contests in a strong position. Especially in South Carolina, where there are many self-identified evangelicals, we see a lot of opportunity.”…

“Look, if Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin do not run, there is a lot of room,” the strategist continues. “Gingrich brings a very strong non-rhetorical track record to the table. Everyone else will say that they want to balance the budget. That’s great. But Newt is the only one who can say, ‘I did that.’ He is the only one who has a track record of major legislative achievements, from paying down the debt to welfare reform. Romney may talk about the fiscal issues, but we are strong in that area, too. Newt had a solid, conservative record in the House.”

Here’s a snippet from his non-announcement announcement this afternoon. For legal reasons, the words “exploratory committee” weren’t uttered. Exit question: How soon will it be before the race is on in earnest? Exit answer: Sooner than you think!

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