So Newt Gingrich made news this weekend in a Politico interview. He praised Pawlenty:
“Governor Pawlenty is a terrific talent, he’s a very attractive guy and he has a good reform record,” Gingrich told POLITICO over the weekend after his speech to the annual Americans for Prosperity conference in Washington.
Pawlenty is “certainly going to be a player. There is every reason he should run, there is wide open field right now,” Gingrich said. “He’s an example that the future of the Republican Party is bright and that we have lots of talent.”…
“He’s going to add new energy and more excitement to the game,” the former Republican House speaker of Georgia said of Pawlenty. “He’s going to draw more Republicans in and make our chances in 2010 even better.”
He also lavished praise on Romney. But, then, on his own ambitions:
“Probably in February in 2011 I’ll sit down and make a very difficult decision,” he said. “We’ll see what the environment is like. We’ll see what the circumstances are and whether or not in order to get those solutions adopted I need to be a candidate.”
Newt’s playing a very interesting game here. On the one hand he’d like to be President. All this stuff about it being a “difficult” decision is hooey. It’s only a difficult decision because Newt is also pragmatic and has no interest in losing terrifically, a very real possibility in a primary, and a likelihood in a general. If Newt thought he could win, he’d jump in tomorrow. So he’s playing a waiting game. But, in the meantime, it does make some sense to put himself in the most positive light possible. For the last few years, he’s been trying the conciliator approach and this is maybe his last chance to see if it moves the dial. So he’ll praise Pawlenty and Romney, to the sky if necessary, and hope his negatives turn around a bit. Still, it’s always nice to get a heavyweight on record praising your candidate. It’ll now be much harder for Newt to go negative on Pawlenty if they end up competitors.