There are all sorts of reasons that a fellow might travel to New Hampshire and then to Iowa in quick succession, even if we can't think of any right off the bat. But if the fellow in question is an out-of-office politician with a big political following, there's probably only one real explanation: He's looking to run for president.
The Hill has the travel itinerary today for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and it says a lot about his plans for 2008. Next week, Gingrich visits New Hampshire for a $50-per-person Republican state committee fundraiser and meetings with the Concord Monitor, the Union Leader and the Valley News. Then Gingrich is off to Iowa, with visits planned for Sioux City, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. On the question of a White House run in 2008, Gingrich's spokesman tells The Hill that nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out. Gingrich has also been coy; when he was asked recently about running, he said: "You never know." In an interview in Monday's Las Vegas Business Press, Gingrich said he doesn't miss public life.
Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood, one of Gingrich's compatriots from his "Contract with America" days, tells The Hill that the former speaker "would love to be president." Although LaHood says Gingrich hasn't told him one way or the other whether he'll run, he says he has "no doubt" that Gingrich is "exploring the possibility."
If Gingrich enters the race, his name recognition and history with the Republican Party will put him in the thick of a pack that's likely to include Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Bill Frist and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback.