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Newt Gingrich announces run for president

ATLANTA -- Newt Gingrich, the House speaker who led a national GOP resurgence in the 1990s before facing ethics questions and resigning, is running for president.

Gingrich's announcement, made on social networking websites yesterday, came after months of public flirting with a bid. He enters a slow-to-form presidential field that has left some Republicans craving more options as they search for a nominee strong enough to credibly challenge President Barack Obama.

The former Georgia congressman brings to the race a years-in-the-making political machine with ties to early nominating states as well as a network of supporters and donors. But his personal baggage -- he's acknowledged marital infidelity and has had two divorces -- could hinder his chances of winning the party's nomination.

Still, he spoke confidently of wide support.

"I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich said in a Facebook posting that urged supporters to watch Fox News Channel on Wednesday. "I will be on to talk about my run for president of the United States."

Gingrich, 67, has spent months raising money, assembling a campaign team and visiting early primary-season states. He has opened a headquarters in a suburb of Atlanta, and he will make his first speech as a candidate on Friday to the Georgia Republican Party Convention.

He is trying to position himself in the race as a policy heavyweight who used his time in Congress to overhaul welfare, balance the federal budget and cut taxes.

Earlier this year, he outlined an energy policy overhaul, proposed an Environmental Solutions Agency to replace the Environmental Protection Agency and described Obama's policies as a "war on American energy."

Gingrich is among the field's best-known candidates; only 14 percent of Republican or GOP-leaning voters said they didn't know him in an Associated Press-GfK poll in March. Among Republicans and those who lean toward that party, 61 percent had a favorable opinion of him.

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