Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn expressed doubt Wednesday that likely Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has what it takes to be president. “He is undoubtedly the smartest man I’ve ever met,” Coburn said of the former Speaker of the House in an interview with C-SPAN. “He is a thinker. He has great vision. The question to me is, does he have the capability to lead the country? And having served under him in the House, he is probably not one that I would choose to support in a presidential primary.”
Coburn said that the Republican presidential nominee should be someone who is “stable, and learned, and is gonna consistently bring us together rather than alienate us.”
“We need somebody whose eye is critical, but is not harsh in their manner,” he continued.
This isn’t the first time Coburn, a conservative stalwart, has criticized Gingrich. “He’s the last person I’d vote for for president of the United States,” he told attendees at a town hall last August. In 1996, Coburn was one of a group of House Republican insurgents who tried to oust Gingrich from his position as Speaker.
Gingrich’s contract with Fox News was suspended on Wednesday in anticipation of a presidential run. Although a number of his aides previously confirmed to various news outlets that Gingrich was preparing to announce the creation of a presidential exploratory committee, his office released a statement Tuesday night indicating that he was still weighing his options and was not ready to make any kind of formal announcement.