UPDATE: It turns out that Newt Gingrich has dropped Palin's name more than once! Two days before the Van Susteren interview, he mentioned the Governor as a potential VP on Hannity and Colmes! His quote has been posted below (emphasis added), and be sure to scroll down to for my analysis of Gingirch's remarks. Speaker Gingrich is, without doubt, the highest ranking official to promote Palin as a national candidate, and I am positively ecstatic at reading these quotes!
"There are a number of great people. I think Gov. Pawlenty is a real possibility, a very innovative governor. I think Gov. Sanford may be as innovative as any governor in the country. There are a lot of places that Sen. McCain could go. Frankly, Governor Palin in Alaska may be the most aggressive reformer in the country. And she would be a real wildcard."
Actually, I heard about this a while ago, but had some trouble obtaining a transcript to confirm the quote. I just found one on Newt Gingrich's official website, so I now feel comfortable in announcing it.
On the April 3rd edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, The former Speaker of the House was asked about potential running mates for John McCain (specifically Gov. Crist of Florida). In response, Gingrich produced five names in a addition to Crist: Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, John Kasich, Mark Sanford, and Sarah Palin. Here's his full quote on the subject (emphasis added):
VAN SUSTEREN: Former Speaker of the House and bestselling author of a book "Real Change" Newt Gingrich joins us live on the phone. Mr. Speaker, Governor Crist did not say "no." I asked him twice. So what do you think? Is he a possibility? Is he a contender?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, sure, he is. He's a very attractive guy. He delivered Florida to John McCain at a key moment in the nomination process. He's very popular in Florida.
He clearly would have to be on anybody's short list of Republican vice-presidential nominees, and I think that Senator McCain is certainly going to think about him as a possibility.
There are other, I think, very attractive people--Rob Portman and John Kasich. They are both former congressmen from Ohio who could put that state back into play. And I think Governor Pawlenty from Minnesota, who will be hosting the National Convention, is a good reform governor.
I think, at the same time, you've got Mark Sanford down in South Carolina, who's been a very effective reform governor.
I think the long shot, an interesting example, would be Governor Palin of Alaska, who is in some ways the most interesting reformer in the entire country on the Republican side.
One thing about the Speaker's comments struck me as particularly interesting. His quip about Gov. Palin being the GOP's "long shot" and "most interesting reformer" struck me as oddly reminiscent of an article published only eight days earlier by John Gizzi of Human Events, which described the governor as "possibly the most intriguing name in the 'veepstakes'", but said her nomination was "unlikely". Maybe it's just me, but it seems that Sarah Palin is getting a lot of talk as the veepstakes' "most interesting longshot"....and Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee have both proved that the "most interesting longshot" is usually not a longshot at all.