"They’re a great couple that had a nontraditional start"

At Villanova University on a recent Thursday night, Mrs. Gingrich warmed up the audience for a showing of the couple’s movie about Pope John Paul II by signing books and DVDs in her left-handed curlicue. But when asked whether she is ready for the scrutiny a campaign would bring, she smiled tightly and grew silent…

Mr. Gingrich took up golf because his wife plays; she has adopted his political agenda. In 2009, after years of attending Mass to hear her sing in her church choir, he converted to Catholicism. And when Mrs. Gingrich, who plays French horn with the city band in Fairfax, Va., appears in concerts, her husband totes her black instrument case. “I’m a band groupie and a choir groupie,” Mr. Gingrich likes to say.

How eager she is for him to run after he has been out of office since 1999 is a matter of discussion among their friends. Vin Weber, the former Republican congressman from Minnesota, said he is “quite convinced” Mrs. Gingrich is happily on board. “They’ve been out of public life,” Mr. Weber said, “and I think she misses the excitement of that.”

Others say she wants her husband to run because he wants to. She has hired Ms. Olson as her chief of staff; she is also writing a children’s book, due out in September — just in time for her to go on a book tour and reintroduce herself to the public as the primary race heats up.