Inside the Beltway, Newt Gingrich is well-known as a provocateur, a novelist, and a futurist. But a national-security heavyweight? Not so much.
On the campaign trail, however, the former speaker is challenging the conventional wisdom. Beginning this week, according to campaign sources, the rising contender will make a concerted play for national-security conservatives.
For Gingrich, the strategic shift serves two purposes: It reminds voters about an often unnoticed part of his record, and it shows Mitt Romney — who is in a dead heat with Gingrich in the latest polls — that, on national security, he has competition.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has frequently highlighted national security, penning a bestseller, No Apology, that outlines his worldview. He has also enlisted boldface names, such as former CIA director Michael Hayden, to his advisory team. Yet Romney is not experienced on foreign policy, which leaves room for Gingrich to assert himself, observes a source close to Gingrich.