With the departure of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly scheduled for sometime around the end of the year and President Trump likely looking at a difficult year ahead, there’s a great deal of uncertainty over who’s going to take the powerful job.
After Rep. Mark Meadows of South Carolina, a powerful House conservative, became the latest to turn down the job on Tuesday, speculation soon centered on another possible chief of staff: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich visited the White House this week, leading to fevered speculation from political journalists that he was Trump’s choice to serve as chief of staff. But there was never any solid reporting that Gingrich was actually in line for the job, and reporter Elaina Plott of the Atlantic tweeted early Thursday that she had texted Gingrich to ask if he was interested in the position, and he answered “no.”
The ex-speaker went on to appear on Fox News Thursday morning to reiterate that he’s not a candidate for the job, and added that he went to the White House, not for political meetings, but rather to view the building’s Christmas decorations, as reported by the Washington Examiner. Gingrich’s advice was for Trump to hire “somebody strong enough to say no” because “he will run over a weaker person, and they will rapidly lose control of the building.”
I texted Gingrich and asked if he was interested in the CoS job. He said, “No.” https://t.co/CnXfkGQ6WF— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) December 13, 2018
While Gingrich has a similar personality to Trump – and is also on his third marriage – he would have in many ways mark a counterintuitive choice as chief of staff. As a former House Speaker and presidential candidate, he has a much longer resume in elected politics than most chiefs of staff; among recent holders of the office, only Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, had much experience as an elected official themselves. Gingrich is known to be strong-willed, which may very well have resulted in clashes with the president and others in the White House.
The ex-speaker is also 75-years-old – older than the president – and seems mostly retired from day-to-day involvement in politics. His wife, Callista, is currently U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, which requires Newt to spend much of his time in Rome.
It’s unclear who the front runner now is for the chief of staff job. Another former public official and presidential candidate, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has also been rumored for the job.