Newt Gingrich on Trump's enduring appeal with Republican voters: He's 'not a candidate' but the 'leader of a mass movement'

Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Washington Post that former President Donald Trump can't be thought of as a traditional candidate.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • Former President Donald Trump remains the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

  • Newt Gingrich told The Washington Post that Trump may be in the race, but he's not a "candidate."

  • "You can't think of him as a candidate. He is the leader of a mass movement," Gingrich said.

For months, the slate of Republican presidential contenders have sought to cut into former President Donald Trump's hefty advantage with GOP voters.

Candidates including Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, and Vivek Ramaswamy have spoken of the need for a new generation of conservative leadership. Gov. Ron DeSantis has long touted his governing record in Florida, arguing that he's best suited to produce conservative results. And Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has sought to project a sort of sunny conservatism, a bit of a departure from what the party has seen in recent years.

Former Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas have taken a more direct approach, openly criticizing Trump and asking GOP voters to move on from the former president.

But none of these approaches have worked, and even as Trump faces four indictments in multiple jurisdictions, he remains in a dominant position with the Republican primary electorate, relegating most of the field to single digits in polling.

As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently told The Washington Post, Trump is simply a figure that is unlike anyone else in the Republican Party. And Gingrich said the other candidates are not even on the same plateau.

"I keep trying to tell people, he is not a candidate. You can't think of him as a candidate. He is the leader of a mass movement," Gingrich told the newspaper. "They are competing with a leader in a completely different world."

Gingrich, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, left an indelible mark on US government throughout his two decades on Capitol Hill.

As a combative congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, he was the face of the 1994 "Republican Revolution," which saw the party regain control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in the minority — with the Senate also flipping to the GOP that year after nearly eight years of Democratic control.

Gingrich assumed the speakership in January 1995, going toe-to-toe with then-President Bill Clinton on everything from the budget to foreign affairs. But after a disappointing GOP midterm performance in 1998 — fueled in part by voter backlash over the party's push to impeach Clinton — Gingrich faced growing dissent within the Republican conference and ceded his leadership role shortly after the election.

He then resigned from the House altogether in January 1999.

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