In a roundtable discussion with political reporters and analysts on ABC’s “This Week,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said what others may be thinking.
Gingrich told guest host Martha Raddatz that Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, real estate mogul and novice politician, could, in fact, become the Republican presidential nominee.
RADDATZ: Could he be the nominee?
RADDATZ: You think — you have to know he could be the nominee?
GINGRICH: Absolutely. I don’t think he — I think he also could be the president.
RADDATZ: How does he do it?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, if you’re ahead everywhere and you — and your lead is increasing, as it is in Iowa…
RADDATZ: Among the Republicans.
GINGRICH: Among Republicans, which started with the nominee. First, you have to become the nominee. I think you might be surprised…
Gingrich, a once-powerful Republican who represented a district in Georgia, is now a political commentator on CNN. And the former GOP insider and one-time presidential candidate has not been shy about sharing his predictions for the 2016 general election.
In February, he said the GOP nominee is likely to be one of the many Republican governors running for president. That list, of course, includes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Gingrich may also have been referring to one of several former state executives in the race, including anticipated front-runner Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor; former New York governor George Pataki; and former Texas governor Rick Perry.
Earlier this month, Gingrich even weighed in on the Democratic Party’s likely nominee. He told Fox News that former secretary of state and senator Hillary Clinton will not be the Democrat who makes it to the general election and advised both Democrats and Republicans to “worry” about Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
[Iowa poll: Sanders surges to within 7 points of Clinton]
But Gingrich’s prediction that Trump could continue to best the long list of experienced politicians and public officials seeking the GOP nomination and that Trump’s largely self-funded campaign has the strength to sustain itself in the long term would seem to be an even bigger, bolder claim. Gingrich explained his reasoning.
“I think it’s very hard to win the presidency,” he said. “And the thing that characterizes both the Sanders campaign and the Trump campaign and the [Ben] Carson campaign is authenticity. The American people know the system isn’t working. They are sick of politics as usual.”
Not surprisingly, Republican contenders such as Christie and Walker played down the significance of their standing in recent polls.
Christie told the “Fox News Sunday” audience that he has been in this position before and fought his way out.
“I’ve been an underdog my entire [political] career, and what matters is the power of ideas and campaigning. Campaigns matter. That’s why we have them.”
And, over on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Walker described some of Trump’s core policy ideas — such as an end to birthright citizenship — as a “distraction.” Walker also reiterated something that several political insiders have said this month: It’s a little early for anyone to lay permanent claim to the front-runner status.
[On birthright citizenship, Scott Walker takes yet another stance: Don’t change the Constitution]
Walker pointed to what was happening at this point in the 2008 race. “Hillary Clinton was way ahead of some guy by the name of Barack Obama. And Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson were ahead of John McCain and Mitt Romney.”