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Bill and Newt, together again

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich headlined a Sarasota fundraiser today for Attorney General Bill McCollum's campaign for governor.

While McCollum could use the help -- he's been outraised 2-1 by Democratic frontrunner Alex Sink -- hanging out with Gingrich doesn't boost efforts to put a fresh coat of paint on his old-guard Republican image. The campaign did not promote the fundraiser even though Gingrich is one of the best-known Republican figures in the country.

McCollum and Gingrich served together in Congress for roughly two decades. Oh the memories! The 1994 Contract with America. The budget standoff that led to federal shutdowns. Former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.

More recently, Gingrich has tried to position himself as a voice of reason as the Republican party tries to rebuild after the setbacks of the 2006 and 2008 elections. He endorsed the moderate Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, in the heated New York congressional race in which other prominent conservatives rallied around a third-party candidate, Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava dropped out but Hoffman ended up losing to the Democrat.