I leave it to others to speculate as to whether Newt will join the race. Either way, he stands to play a key and perhaps decisive role in determining the nominee. If he chooses not to run but to endorse another candidate it could be one of the few endorsements that really matters since it offers the prospect of Newt playing a role in the endorsee’s administration. If, on the other hand, he chooses to run he can shape the debates and the race even if he can’t win it. Clearly he has his eye on a theme, one I believe is key but currently underappreciated, that managerial competence is crucial to restoring GOP credibility and getting government reform back on track. This focus will favor two candidates with executive experience and track records and disadvantage two who come up short in this area. Second, Newt has little patience for fluff and platitudes so any candidate who hopes to slip through on tried and true nostrums without detailed policy proposals should be forewarned. You can only imagine a Newt stiletto comment in a debate like “Well that was a nice soundbite but I never heard a solid prescription for solving X.” That type of comment coming from the GOP’s chief wonk would carry significant weight. So if you doubt Newt could win the nomination, don’t doubt he could hugely influence who wins.