Washington Newt Gingrich is taking steps toward a potential presidential bid in 2008 with a book criticizing President Bush's policies on Iraq and a tour of early campaign states.
The former House speaker who led Republicans to power a decade ago said he soon would visit Iowa and New Hampshire to promote his book, try to influence public policy and keep his political options alive.
"Anything seems possible," including a White House race, Gingrich said.
The quotable and controversial former Georgia congressman, who now runs a consulting firm in Washington, is promoting, "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America." He seemed to welcome the thought that a book tour will increase speculation about his political aspirations.
"It never hurts to maximize opportunities. That's the American tradition," Gingrich said. "If I can influence the reporters and political activists in Iowa and New Hampshire, they will influence the candidates."
Asked if he might be a candidate himself, Gingrich said: "For an Army brat from Pennsylvania who became the only Georgia Republican in the House and the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years, anything seems possible. I don't think it's very likely. On the other hand, if I have an impact on public policy and do it in a way that is exciting and positive, why wouldn't I want to do that?"
Gingrich said he hoped newspapers in Iowa and New Hampshire seized on issues raised in his book.
"If that means that every candidate will be hit by those questions, at a minimum I have helped shape policy," he said.