Gingrich to seek GOP nomination for president

WASHINGTON — Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich formally launched his candidacy Wednesday for the Republican presidential nomination.

After months of hinting, Gingrich made it official with a Twitter message that said simply: "Today I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. You can watch my announcement here." A link led to a YouTube video.

"I believe we can return America to hope, and opportunity, full employment, real security, to an American energy program, to a balanced budget," Gingrich said in the video.

He said that as House speaker he had played a role in revamping welfare, balancing the federal budget and reducing unemployment. And in a nod to tea party supporters, Gingrich said he would be president over "a decentralized country under the 10th Amendment."

Gingrich enters the race as one of the best-known, most-established figures in the Republican field. He is regarded as an aggressive strategist, a big-picture thinker and a formidable fundraiser who some Republicans think could match up well against President Obama.

Still, he's not a shoo-in.

At age 67, he'll be among the oldest Republicans seeking support from a GOP electorate that seems to be searching for a fresher face.

In addition, he hasn't held public office for 12 years.

Gingrich's record also could drag him down. His House speakership from 1995 to 1999 was mixed; there were successes — forcing President Clinton to tack right on budget and welfare overhauls — but there was also much controversy.

The public largely blamed Gingrich for the federal government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 over budget fights.

Gingrich resigned from Congress under an ethics cloud: The House reprimanded and fined him in 1997 for failing to ensure that financing for two projects he was involved in didn't violate federal tax law and for giving false information to the House Ethics Committee.