WASHINGTON, Sep 30 (Reuters) Ending months of speculation, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would not run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, citing campaign finance law restrictions.
Gingrich, who previously said he was considering joining the race, told Fox News the McCain-Feingold campaign law would have forced him to leave his American Solutions political organisation if he declared his candidacy.
''I wasn't prepared to abandon American Solutions, even to explore whether a campaign was realistic,'' he said yesterday.
Gingrich, 64, an architect of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, described American Solutions as a bipartisan organisation dedicated to developing solutions to major issues facing the country.
Gingrich, who also ruled out accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination, declined to endorse any Republican candidate. He said Republicans' chances of beating the Democratic nominee were ''very, very slim'' unless they could distance themselves from the Republican record in Washington.
The 2002 McCain-Feingold law, named after Republican presidential candidate Sen John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, was designed to reduce the influence of money in politics, but critics say it infringes on free speech.
Gingrich represented his Georgia district in Congress for 20 years. While he was instrumental in ending 40 years of Democratic control of Congress, he was forced to step down after four years as speaker and leave Congress amid ethics allegations and Republican losses in the 1998 election.
Top Republican presidential contenders are former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, McCain and former Tennessee Sen Fred Thompson.
Reuters MP VP0422