WASHINGTON – Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and conservative leader, said Saturday he had decided not to seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
“Sometimes you have to decide what the right role is,” he said in a telephone interview. “This is right for me.”
The Georgia Republican said legal advisers warned him Saturday morning that federal law would prohibit his fundraising for a presidential race unless he quit a fledgling political action organization that separately raises money to seek solutions to troubling national problems.
“Anything that could be construed as helping my campaign in any way is potentially a criminal offense” under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms passed in 2002, Gingrich said.
Gingrich, who has placed third in some early national polls of Republican voters, said he had planned to announce an exploratory presidential campaign operation Monday.
He had taken a leave of absence from his role as a political commentator on Fox News, had prepared a campaign Web site and was committed to trying to raise $30 million as the necessary ante for a national race, he said.
“We were ready to explore,” he added. “But I was not prepared to walk away from something we had spent a year building just to explore.”
Gingrich said he decided to abandon his presidential ambitions for now rather than step down as chairman of the new group, called American Solutions. It claims 19,000 members and sponsored 2,000 workshops around the country, organized seminars online and conducted other programs Friday and Saturday. It aims to find comprehensive solutions to problems of immigration, national defense, education and other national issues, according to its Web site.