Newt Gingrich confirms bid to run for presidency

Newt Gingrich, who in the 1990s led the Republican Party to its first majority in the US House of Representatives in 40 years, announced yesterday that he was running for president.

The 67-year-old former House speaker is one of the most recognisable figures in the still wide-open race for the Republican presidential nomination, but he also has many political liabilities, including his three marriages.

Any Republican could have a hard time defeating President Barack Obama in next year's election. Although the US economy is still weak, President Obama is a strong campaigner who is expected to raise massive amounts of money. His approval ratings just received a boost after the military mission that killed the al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Mr Gingrich, 67, has made no secret of his White House ambitions. He has been raising money and assembling a campaign team for months and has travelled frequently to states that hold early presidential primaries. "I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Mr Gingrich wrote in his official announcement on Facebook and Twitter.

Getting into the race marks a comeback attempt by the former congressman from Georgia, who stepped down from the House after four tumultuous years as speaker. A spending fight between Mr Gingrich and former president Bill Clinton led to a shutdown of part of the federal government in 1995 and 1996. He left Congress in 1999, and has since set up a lucrative network of non-profit and business ventures.

Other potential contenders include the businessman Donald Trump, the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.