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Dean Offers Gingrich Backhanded Endorsement for 2012

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) got a surprise endorsement Sunday for a potential 2012 presidential bid from Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman.

Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday” that he is exploring with his family whether to launch a presidential campaign and that he will finalize his decision in February or March.

Dean, who appeared opposite Gingrich on Fox, offered unlikely support. “The Republican Party is lacking in ideas. … He can supply intellectual leadership,” he said. Gingrich had “tons of ideas for moving America forward,” not that he agrees with any of them, Dean added.

Gingrich seemed taken aback by Dean’s words and a little chagrined. “There’s my opponent’s primary clip,” he said.

The show also addressed this year’s midterm elections, and Dean held up the “conviction politics” of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who faces a difficult race in his conservative district, as an example for other Democratic candidates.

“He’s explaining why he voted for the health care bill,” Dean said. “He’s not running away from anything, and that’s what we’ve got to have in this party.”

Republicans are capitalizing on public discontent with this year’s health care overhaul in their midterm campaigns.

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