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Election 101: Ten questions about Newt Gingrich as a presidential candidate

The former speaker is a masterful strategist with a brilliant political mind. But a rocky marital record and a penchant for flame-throwing may jeopardize his candidacy.

3. What does he have going for him?

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sings during Easter Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church on April 24 in Washington. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. Over 5,000 people attended the Mass.

“He’s brilliant,” says Lichtman. “Along with Karl Rove, he is far and away among the best political strategists the Republican Party has produced.”

Most Americans know Gingrich as the grand architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution. Thanks to his Contract with America, Gingrich helped engineer the GOP victory that saw the party regain a House majority after more than 40 years.

A history professor by training, Gingrich is the GOP’s intellectual powerhouse and its unofficial “philosopher king.” He’s tested, versed in policy, an excellent debater, and has managed to guide public debate on conservative ideas longer than most of his contemporaries. By dint of sheer career longevity, he’s also got a hefty war chest and a thick Rolodex.

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