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Posted at 1:42 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Newt Gingrich's inner circle

By Chris Cillizza

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sounds like he is running for president. AP Photo/David Goldman

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has been leaning into a 2012 presidential bid for months now.

He reiterated that interest over the weekend in an interview on "Fox News Sunday", saying that he is "more inclined" to think a presidential bid in 2012 is "doable". He said he plans to make a formal decision by late February or early March.

And, Gingrich has ramped up the fundraising through his federal PAC -- collecting $314,000 between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22 -- a sign that he may be priming the financial pump for a national bid. (Gingrich raised nearly $14 million for his American Solutions 527 organization, which can accept contributions of unlimited size.)

Gingrich has also spent time -- and money -- in Iowa, suggesting that he will make a heavy play to win, place or show in the Hawkeye State caucuses.

With Gingrich teetering on the edge of a presidential candidacy, now seems like the right time to take a look at the people he is consulting with as he makes a final decision on a bid.

Gingrich, more so than any other politician -- with the possible exception of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- keeps his own counsel and is his own best political strategist.

But, he still has a (small) inner circle of advisers, all three of which have been with him for a decade or more. Check them out below. And don't forget to read our inner circle pieces on Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Gingrich Inner Circle

Sam Dawson: Dawson, a native of South Carolina, is regarded as a disciple of the late Lee Atwater. In the 1996 election cycle, Dawson functioned as then Speaker Gingrich's liaison to the National Republican Congressional Committee and went on to briefly serve as executive director of the committee in the 1998 cycle. (He had previously been political director and field director at the committee.) Dawson also did a stint as chief of staff for Minnesota Sen. Rod Grams in the late 1990s. In 2001, he started a media consulting firm with fellow GOP strategists Terry Nelson and Pat McCarthy.

Joe Gaylord: Perhaps the first among equals in Gingrich's tight-knit inner circle, Gaylord has been at the Georgia Republican's side for a very long time. Gaylord, an Iowa native, managed several of the Gingrich's congressional races during the 1990s and was his political alter ego during his speakership. Like Dawson, Gaylord has deep roots in congressional politics -- having chaired the NRCC during the mid 1980s.

Rick Tyler: If Dawson and Gaylord are more prone to be found behind-the-scenes, Tyler is the public face of the Gingrich political operation. Tyler is Gingrich's official spokesman and also the leading defender of the former speaker on television and in print. Tyler is a former executive director of the Maine Republican party.

By Chris Cillizza  | December 6, 2010; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012, Inner Circle  
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