Gingrich: No Regrets, But Says His "Underdog Campaign" For President Would Have Competitive

Sunday, September 30th 2007, 9:19 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday he could have been a contender, but has no regrets about skipping the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Gingrich said he'd had a Web site ready to launch this week and already had received several million dollars in pledges.

``I think we would clearly have been competitive financially within three weeks, and we literally had not even set up the Web site yet,'' he said. ``But what hit me was it would have been an underdog campaign. I mean, clearly, if you were going to come from behind, I think it would have been a real campaign. I think we would have had a chance to win.''

Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said Saturday that Gingrich opted out of the race, a crowded one with nine candidates, after determining he could not legally explore a bid and stay as head of his tax-exempt political organization.

Besides the potential legal difficulties, Gingrich said running would have wasted the effort spent building up American Solutions for Winning the Future, the tax-exempt political arm of his lucrative empire as an author, pundit and consultant.

``To give up and kill an organization we spent a year on and that had 2,000 sites around the country where people had now invested their time and effort just to look at whether or not you could run, I thought would be irresponsible,'' he said on ABC's ``This Week.''

Just last week, Gingrich said he had set an Oct. 21 deadline to raise $30 million in pledges for a possible run, acknowledging that the task was difficult but not impossible.

He said Sunday that the deciding factor was learning he risked violating the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

``I thought there was a way that you could continue the momentum of those ideas while I began to prepare a presidential campaign,'' Gingrich said. ``What we learned yesterday morning was, I mean, it's literally a go to jail, criminal activity.''

In a taped appearance broadcast on ``Fox News Sunday,'' Gingrich also criticized the law.

``The effect of the McCain-Feingold censorship act has been to weaken the middle class, to make it harder to have a middle-class candidate and to make it much, much harder to raise money and so I think you've got to be realistic about what it takes to campaign,'' he said.

Gingrich said he would not align himself with any of the candidates.

``I'm not going to endorse anybody. I'm going to try to offer ideas that hopefully all of them can look at,'' he said.

Gingrich is the latest Republican to decide against joining the race. In early September, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel announced he would not run for the White House or seek a third term.