Rep. Barton is first lawmaker to publicly endorse Gingrich

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) endorsed former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for president on Thursday.

Barton is the first lawmaker to publicly endorse the former Speaker. The Texas lawmaker, a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is in his 14th term and served in Congress with Speaker Gingrich.

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“I think he’d be a great president. I have talked to him already and promised to help in his campaign and endorse him, if he thinks it helps his campaign,” Barton said on C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal."

Barton's comments come less than 24 hours after Gingrich jumped into the 2012 presidential race. 

It’s unclear how much support Gingrich will receive from Republicans in Congress. While he has a number of old friends on Capitol Hill, he has also come under some criticism from former colleagues.

Republicans interviewed by The Hill last month described his leadership style as Speaker as visionary and strategically adept, but also unfocused.

“He’s a guy of 1,000 ideas and the attention span of a 1-year-old,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who was a House member during Gingrich’s Speakership. “His discipline and his attention to any individual thing is not his strong suit.”

Barton described Gingrich as “an ideas man.”

“He’s battle-tested. He’s had the third most powerful office, and some could say the second most powerful office, in America, as the Speaker of the House. So he knows the issues,” Barton said.

“I could easily see him sitting in the Oval Office being president of the United State for all American citizens,” Barton added.

Most polls have shown Gingrich in the middle of the likely Republican presidential field.

--This story was updated at 10:57 a.m.

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