Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Gingrich speaking at the 2011 CPAC FL conference in Orlando, Florida.
58th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 4, 1995 – January 3, 1999
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Tom Foley
Succeeded by Dennis Hastert
House Minority Whip
In office
March 20, 1989 – January 3, 1995
Leader Robert Michel
Preceded by Dick Cheney
Succeeded by David Bonior
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Jack Flynt
Succeeded by Johnny Isakson
Personal details
Born Newton Leroy McPherson
June 17, 1943 (1943-06-17) (age 68)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jackie Battley (1962–1981)
Marianne Ginther (1981–2000)
Callista Gingrich (2000–present)
Residence Carrollton, Georgia (1979–1993, while in office)
Marietta, Georgia (1993–1999, while in office)
McLean, Virginia (1999–present)[1]
Alma mater Emory University (B.A.)
Tulane University (M.A./PhD)
Occupation College Professor
Religion Roman Catholic[2] (formerly Baptist)
This article is part of a series about
Newt Gingrich

Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich (play /ˈnt ˈɡɪŋɡrɪ/; born Newton Leroy McPherson; June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author who served as the 58th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He represented Georgia's 6th congressional district as a Republican member from 1979 to 1999.

Gingrich was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but raised in Hummelstown, a small nearby borough. A college professor, historian, and author, Gingrich twice ran unsuccessfully for the House before winning a seat in the election of November 1978. He was re-elected ten times, and his activism as a member of the House's Republican minority eventually enabled him to succeed Dick Cheney as House Minority Whip in 1989.

As a co-author of the 1994 Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of the Republican Party's dramatic success in that year's Congressional elections and subsequently was elected Speaker of the House. In 1995, Time magazine named him "Man of the Year" for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the House, ending 40 years of the Democratic Party being in the majority. During his tenure as Speaker, he represented the public face of the Republican opposition to President Bill Clinton. Under his Speakership, Congress passed and Clinton signed the 1996 reform of welfare, a capital gains tax cut and the first balanced budget since 1969.

Following Republican losses in the 1998 mid-term elections, Gingrich resigned both his Speakership and his congressional seat. Since resigning his seat, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant. He continues to write works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction, and is the author of twenty-three books. He is the founder and/or chair of several organizations and companies, including American Solutions for Winning the Future, Center for Health Transformation, Gingrich Productions and Renewing American Leadership. In May 2011, he announced he will seek the Republican nomination to run in the 2012 presidential election.


Early life

Gingrich was born Newton Leroy McPherson, at the Harrisburg Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 17, 1943. His mother, Kathleen "Kit" (née Daugherty; 1925–2003), and father, Newton Searles McPherson, had married the previous September, but the marriage reportedly fell apart within days.[3][4][5] In 1946, his mother married Army officer Robert Gingrich (1925–1996), who adopted Newt.[6] Gingrich has three younger half-sisters, Candace Gingrich, Susan Gingrich, and Roberta Brown.[6] Gingrich is of German, English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry,[7] and was raised a Lutheran.[8]

The family settled in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, a small borough outside of Harrisburg (located between Harrisburg and Hershey). Gingrich was the child of a career military family, moving a number of times while growing up and attending school at various military installations. In 1961, he graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. Gingrich has attributed the beginning of his interest in seeking public life to his time as a teenager living in Orléans, France, where he visited the site of the Battle of Verdun and learned about the extreme sacrifices made there and the importance of the political leadership necessary to see it through.[9]

He received a B.A. in history from Emory University in Atlanta in 1965. He received an M.A. in 1968, and then a PhD in modern European history from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1971.[10] His dissertation was entitled "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945–1960". While at Tulane, Gingrich, who at the time belonged to no religious group, began attending the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church to pursue an interest in the effect of religion on political theory; he was soon baptized by Rev. G. Avery Lee.[11] In 1970, Gingrich was appointed an Assistant Professor in the history department at West Georgia College (now the University of West Georgia) in Carrollton. In 1974 he moved to the geography department. While at West Georgia, Gingrich was instrumental in establishing an inter-disciplinary Environmental Studies program. He left at the end of the 1977–1978 academic year, after being denied tenure.[12] He also taught a class, Renewing American Civilization, at Kennesaw State University (then called Kennesaw State College) in 1993.[13]

Early political career

Congressional campaigns

In 1974 and 1976, Gingrich made two unsuccessful runs for Congress in Georgia's sixth congressional district, which stretched from the southern Atlanta suburbs to the Alabama state line. Prior to running for office, Gingrich had been Southern regional director for Nelson Rockefeller in 1968.[14] In both campaigns, Gingrich lost to incumbent Democrat Jack Flynt. Flynt had served in Congress since 1955 and never faced a serious challenge prior to Gingrich's two runs against him. Gingrich nearly defeated Flynt in 1974, a year that was otherwise very bad for Republicans due to Watergate. A 1976 rematch was similarly close, despite the presence of Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia until 1975, on the presidential ballot.

Flynt chose not to run for re-election in 1978. Gingrich ran for the seat a third time, and defeated Democratic State Senator Virginia Shapard by almost 9 points.[15][16] Gingrich was re-elected six times from this district, facing only one close race. In the House elections of 1990, he defeated Democrat David Worley by 978 votes.

Pre-speakership congressional activities

Congressman Gingrich meets with President Ronald Reagan, 1985

A 1980 memo from then-freshman House member Gingrich may be the original inspiration for Ronald Reagan's "are you better off than you were four years ago?" line from a presidential debate the same year.[17]

In 1981, Gingrich co-founded the Congressional Military Reform Caucus (MRC) as well as the Congressional Aviation and Space Caucus. During the 1983 congressional page sex scandal, Gingrich was among those calling for the expulsion of representatives Dan Crane and Gerry Studds.[18] Other notable early House activities by Gingrich include supporting a proposal to ban loans from the International Monetary Fund to Communist countries and endorsing a bill to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.[19]

In 1983, he founded the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), a group that included young conservative House Republicans. Early COS members were handpicked by Gingrich and included Robert Smith Walker, Judd Gregg, Dan Coats and Connie Mack III. The group expanded over time to comprise several dozen representatives[20] who met each week to exchange and develop ideas.[19] Gingrich's analysis of polls and public opinion identified the original issues that the group focused on.[20] Ronald Reagan adopted the "opportunity society" ideas for his 1984 re-election campaign, supporting the group's conservative goals on economic growth, education, crime, space exploration and social issues, which he had not emphasized during his first term.[21] Reagan also referenced an "opportunity" society in the first State of the Union address of his second term.[20]

In May 1988, Gingrich (along with 77 other House members and Common Cause) brought ethics charges against Democratic Speaker Jim Wright, who was alleged to have used a book deal to circumvent campaign-finance laws and House ethics rules. During the investigation, it was noted Gingrich had his own unusual book deal, for Window of Opportunity, part of whose publicity expenses were covered by a limited partnership, which raised $105,000 from Republican political supporters around the country to promote sales of the book.[22] Wright eventually resigned as a result of the inquiry. Gingrich's success in forcing the resignation was in part responsible for his rising influence in the Republican caucus.[23]

In March 1989, after House Minority Whip Dick Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense, Gingrich was elected to succeed him. He faced the chief deputy whip, Edward Rell Madigan, in the election and won by 87 to 85.[24] This was Gingrich's first formal position of power within the Republican party[25] and following the election he stated his intention to "build a much more aggressive, activist party."[24] Early in his role as Whip, in May 1989 Gingrich was involved in talks about the appointment of a Panamanian administrator of the Panama Canal, which was scheduled to occur in 1989 subject to United States government approval of the candidate. Gingrich was outspoken in his opposition to giving control over the canal to an administrator appointed by the dictatorship in Panama.[26] Gingrich and others in the house, including the newly minted Gang of Seven, railed against what they saw as ethical lapses in the House, an institution that had been under Democratic control for almost 40 years. The House banking scandal and Congressional Post Office scandal were emblems of the exposed corruption. Gingrich himself was among the 450 members of the House who had engaged in check kiting; he had overdrafts on twenty-two checks, including a $9,463 check to the Internal Revenue Service in 1990.[27]

As a result of the 1990 United States Census, Georgia picked up an additional seat for the 1992 U.S. House elections. However, the Democratic-controlled Georgia General Assembly eliminated Gingrich's old district, which stretched from the southern suburbs of Atlanta to the Alabama border. Gingrich's home in Carrollton was drawn into the Columbus-based 3rd District, represented by five-term Democrat Richard Ray. At the same time, the Assembly created a new 6th District in Fulton and Cobb counties in the wealthy northern suburbs of Atlanta—an area Gingrich had never represented. However, Gingrich sold his home in Carrollton, moved to Marietta in the new 6th and won a very close Republican primary. The primary victory was tantamount to election in the new, heavily Republican district. Meanwhile, Ray lost to state senator Mac Collins by 9.52 percentage points.

In the 1994 campaign season, in an effort to offer an alternative to Democratic policies and to unite distant wings of the Republican Party, Newt Gingrich (with the help of other Republicans) came up with a Contract with America, which laid out ten policies that Republicans promised to bring to a vote on the House floor during the first hundred days of the new Congress, if they won the election.[28] The contract was signed by Gingrich and other Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. The contract ranged from issues such as welfare reform, term limits, tougher crime laws, and a balanced budget law, to more specialized legislation such as restrictions on American military participation in U.N. missions.

In the November 1994 elections, Republicans gained 54 seats and took control of the House for the first time since 1954. Long-time House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois had not run for re-election in 1994, giving Gingrich, the highest-ranking Republican returning to Congress, the inside track to becoming Speaker. The following year, Gingrich was named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine for his role in the 1994 election and his nascent Speakership, which Time wrote had "changed the center of gravity" in the nation's capital.[29]

Speaker of the House

Vice President Al Gore, President Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich at the 1997 State of the Union Address

Congress fulfilled Gingrich's Contract promise to bring all ten of the Contract's issues to a vote within the first 100 days of the session, even though most legislation was initially held up in the Senate. Over the objection of liberal/progressive interest groups[30] and President Clinton, who called it the "Contract on America",[31] many aspects of the proposal were implemented in subsequent legislation.

Legislation proposed by the 104th United States Congress included term limits for Congressional Representatives, tax cuts, welfare reform, and a balanced budget amendment, as well as independent auditing of the finances of the House of Representatives and elimination of non-essential services such as the House barbershop and shoe-shine concessions. Following Gingrich's first two years as House Speaker, the Republican majority was re-elected in the 1996 election, the first time Republicans had done so in 68 years, and the first simultaneous with a Democratic president winning re-election.[32]


Welfare reform

A central pledge of President Clinton's campaign was to reform the welfare system, adding changes such as work requirements for recipients. However, by 1994, the Clinton Administration appeared to be more concerned with universal health care and no details or a plan had emerged on welfare reform. Gingrich accused the President of stalling on welfare, and proclaimed that Congress could pass a welfare reform bill in as little as ninety days. Gingrich insisted that the Republican Party would continue to apply political pressure to the President to approve welfare legislation.[33]

In 1996, after constructing two welfare reform bills that were vetoed by President Clinton,[34] Gingrich and his supporters pushed for the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), a bill aimed at substantially reconstructing the welfare system. Introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr., the act gave state governments more autonomy over welfare delivery, while also reducing the federal government's responsibilities. It instituted the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, which placed time limits on welfare assistance and replaced the longstanding Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Other changes to the welfare system included stricter conditions for food stamps eligibility, reductions in immigrant welfare assistance, and recipient work requirements.[35]

Gingrich personally negotiated with President Clinton over the legislation in private meetings. Previously, Clinton had quietly spoken with Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott for months about the bill, but a compromise on a more acceptable bill for the President could not be reached. Gingrich, on the other hand, gave accurate information about his party's vote counts and persuaded more conservative members of the Republican Party to vote in favor of PRWORA.[34]

President Clinton found the legislation more conservative than he would have preferred; however, having vetoed two earlier welfare proposals from the Republican-majority Congress, it was considered a political risk to veto a third bill during a campaign season with welfare reform as a central theme.[34] As he signed the bill on August 22, 1996, Clinton stated that the act "gives us a chance we haven't had before to break the cycle of dependency that has existed for millions and millions of our fellow citizens, exiling them from the world of work. It gives structure, meaning and dignity to most of our lives."[36]

After the passage of the bill, Gingrich continued to press for welfare reform and increasing employment opportunities for welfare recipients. In his 1998 book Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Gingrich outlined a multi-step plan to improve economic opportunities for the poor. The plan called for encouraging volunteerism and spiritual renewal, placing more importance on families, creating tax incentives and reducing regulations for businesses in poor neighborhoods, and increasing property ownership for low-income families. Gingrich cited his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity as an example of where he observed that it was more rewarding for people to be actively involved in improving their lives—by building their own homes—than by receiving welfare payments from the government.[37]

Balancing the federal budget

A key aspect of the Contract with America was the promise of a balanced federal budget. After the end of the government shutdown, Gingrich and other Republican leaders acknowledged that Congress would not be able to draft a balanced budget in 1996. Instead, they opted to approve some small reductions that were already approved by the White House and to wait until the election season.[38]

By May 1997, Republican congressional leaders reached a compromise with the Democrats and President Clinton on the federal budget. The agreement called for a federal spending plan designed to reduce the federal deficit and achieve a balanced budget by 2002. The plan included a total of $152 billion in Republican sponsored tax cuts over five years. Other major parts of the spending plan called for $115 billion to be saved through a restructuring of Medicare, $24 billion set aside to extend health insurance to children of the working poor, tax credits for college tuition, and a $2 billion welfare-to-work jobs initiative.[39][40]

President Clinton signed the budget legislation in August 1997. At the signing, Gingrich gave credit to ordinary Americans stating, "It was their political will that brought the two parties together."[41]

In early 1998, with the economy performing better than expected, increased tax revenues helped reduce the federal budget deficit to below $25 billion. Gingrich then called upon President Clinton to submit a balanced budget for 1999—three years ahead of schedule—which Clinton did, making it the first time the federal budget had been balanced since 1969.[42]

Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997

In 1997 President Clinton signed into effect the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which included the largest capital gains tax cut in U.S. history. Under the act, the profits on the sale of a personal residence ($500,000 for married couples, $250,000 for singles) were exempted if lived in for at least 2 years over the last 5. (This had previously been limited to a $125,000 once-in-a-lifetime exemption for those over 55.)[43] There were also reductions in a number of other taxes on investment gains.[44][45] Additionally, the act raised the value of inherited estates and gifts that could be sheltered from taxation.[45] Gingrich has been credited with creating the agenda for the reduction in capital gains tax, especially in the "Contract with America", which set out to balance the budget and implement decreases in estate and capital gains tax. Some Republicans felt that the compromise reached with Clinton on the budget and tax act was inadequate,[46] however Gingrich has stated that the tax cuts were a significant accomplishment for the Republican Congress in the face of opposition from the Clinton administration.[47]

Other legislation

Shortly after the Republicans won the House majority, Gingrich promised that the House would be on the Internet by the opening day of the 104th United States Congress. In January 1995, Gingrich and the Library of Congress unveiled THOMAS, an Internet-accessible database of congressional information. THOMAS initially included text versions of bills of the 103rd United States Congress, directory information, and other legislative materials. Commenting on the new system, Gingrich said, "This will change the balance of power in America toward the citizens out of the Beltway. There will be a shift to talking about ideas, not personalities."[48]

Among the first pieces of legislation passed by the new Congress under Gingrich was the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which subjected members of Congress to the same laws that apply to U.S. businesses and their employees, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As a provision of the Contract with America, the law was symbolic of the new Republican majority's goal to remove some of the entitlements enjoyed by Congress. The bill received near universal acceptance from the House and Senate and was signed into law on January 23, 1995.[49]

Government shutdown

Gingrich and the incoming Republican majority's promise to slow the rate of government spending conflicted with the president's agenda for Medicare, education, the environment and public health, leading eventually to a temporary shutdown of the U.S. federal government.[50] Prior to the government shutdown, Congress passed several continuing resolutions for funding, although both were vetoed by President Clinton.[51] When the previous appropriations bills expired, the government closed most non-essential offices. The shutdown became the longest-ever in U.S. history, ending when Clinton agreed to submit a CBO-approved balanced budget plan.[52]

During the crisis, Gingrich's public image suffered from perception that the Republican hardline stance over the budget owed partly to a "snub" by Clinton during a flight to and from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel.[53] Following the trip, Gingrich attended a breakfast with reporters in Washington, where he expressed dissatisfaction with Clinton not inviting him to discuss the budget during the flight, as well as being instructed to use the plane's rear exit, saying the snub was "part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher continuing resolution".[54] In the subsequent media coverage, Gingrich was lampooned for implying that the government shutdown was a result of his personal grievances, including a widely-shared editorial cartoon depicting him as having thrown a temper tantrum.[55] Democratic leaders, including Charles Schumer, took the opportunity to attack Gingrich's motives for the budget standoff.[56][57] Gingrich later called his comments the "single most avoidable mistake" as Speaker.[58]

Reflecting on the impact of the government shutdown for the Republican party, Gingrich later commented that, "Everybody in Washington thinks that was a big mistake. They're exactly wrong. There had been no reelected Republican majority since 1928. Part of the reason we got reelected ... is our base thought we were serious. And they thought we were serious because when it came to a show-down, we didn't flinch."[59] In a 2011 op-ed in the Washington Post, Gingrich stated that the government shutdown led to the balanced-budget deal in 1997 and the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, as well as the first re-election of a Republican majority for the first time since 1928.[60]

Ethics sanctions

Gingrich is the only Speaker of the House to have been disciplined for ethics violations.[61]

During his term as Speaker, eighty-four ethics charges were filed against him; eighty-three of them were dropped.[62] The remaining charge concerned a 20-hour college course called "Renewing American Civilization" that Gingrich had taught through a tax-deductible foundation, Kennesaw State College Foundation. Allegations of tax improprieties led to two counts "of failure to seek legal advice" and one count of "providing the committee with information which he knew or should have known was inaccurate" concerning the use of a tax exempt college course for political purposes. To avoid a full hearing, Gingrich and the House Ethics Subcommittee negotiated a sanctions agreement. Democrats accused Gingrich of violating the agreement, but it was forwarded to the House for approval.[63][64] On January 21, 1997, the House voted 395 to 28 to reprimand Gingrich, including a $300,000 "cost assessment" to recoup money spent on the investigation.[65][66]

The full committee panel did not agree whether tax law had been violated.[67] In 1999, the IRS cleared the organizations connected with the courses.[68]

Leadership challenge

In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Gingrich's public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted "coup" began July 9 with a meeting between Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup.[69]

On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly, as the only member of the leadership who had been appointed to his position—by Gingrich—instead of elected.[70]


Gingrich's official portrait as Speaker

By 1998, Gingrich had become a highly visible and polarizing figure in the national public's eye, making him a target for Democratic congressional candidates across the nation. His national approval rating was 45% in April 1998, although his local approval was undiminished, and he was handily reelected to an 11th term.[71]

Republicans lost five seats in the House in the 1998 midterm elections—the worst performance in 64 years for a party that didn't hold the presidency. Polls showed that Gingrich and the Republican Party's attempt to remove President Clinton from office was widely unpopular among Americans.[72] Gingrich suffered much of the blame for the election loss. Facing another rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 6, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well. Commenting on his departure, Gingrich said, "I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals. My only fear would be that if I tried to stay, it would just overshadow whoever my successor is."[73]


Gingrich has since remained involved in national politics and public policy debate, especially on issues regarding healthcare, national security, and fighting for recognition of the role of religion in American public life.


In 2003 he founded the Center for Health Transformation to develop a 21st century intelligent healthcare system that is centered on the individual, prevention focused, knowledge intense, and innovation rich.[74] Gingrich supported the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, creating the Medicare Part D federal prescription drugs benefit program. Some conservatives have criticized him for favoring the plan, due to its cost. However, Gingrich has remained a supporter, stating in a 2011 interview that it was a necessary modernization of Medicare, which was created before pharmaceutical drugs became standard in medical care. He has said that the increase in cost from medication must be seen as preventive, leading to reduced need for medical procedures.[75] In a May 15, 2011, interview on Meet the Press, Gingrich repeated his long-held belief that "all of us have a responsibility to pay – help pay for health care", and suggested this could be implemented by either a mandate to obtain health insurance or a requirement to post a bond ensuring coverage.[76][77] In the same interview Gingrich said "I don't think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate." This comment caused a great deal of back-lash within the Republican Party.[76][77] Gingrich has also been an advocate for health information technology. In 2005, together with Hillary Rodham Clinton he announced the proposal of the 21st Century Health Information Act, a bill which aimed to replace paperwork with confidential, electronic health information networks.[78] Gingrich also co-chaired an independent congressional study group made up of health policy experts formed in 2007 to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of action taken within the U.S. to fight Alzheimer's disease.[79]

Gingrich has served on several commissions, including the Hart-Rudman Commission, formally known as the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, which examined issues affecting the armed forces, law enforcement and intelligence agencies with regards to national security.[80] In 2005 he became the co-chair of a task force for UN reform, which aimed to produce a plan for the U.S. to help strengthen the UN.[81] For over two decades, Gingrich has taught at the United States Air Force's Air University, where he is the longest-serving teacher of the Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course.[82] In addition, he is an honorary Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Professor at the National Defense University and teaches officers from all of the defense services.[83][84] Gingrich informally advised Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on strategic issues, on issues including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and encouraging the Pentagon to not "yield" foreign policy influence to the State Department and National Security Council.[85] Gingrich is also a guiding coalition member of the Project on National Security Reform.

In September 2007, Gingrich founded the 527 group American Solutions for Winning the Future. The stated mission of the group is to become the "leading grassroots movement to recruit, educate, and empower citizen activists and elected officials to develop solutions to transform all levels of government". Gingrich spoke of the group and its objectives at the CPAC conference of 2008 and currently serves as its General Chairman.[86] Other organizations and companies founded or chaired by Gingrich include the creative production company Gingrich Productions,[87] and religious educational organization Renewing American Leadership.[88]

Gingrich is also a fellow at conservative think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and Hoover Institution, focusing on U.S. politics, world history, national security policy, and environmental policy issues. He sometimes serves as a commentator, guest or panel member on cable news shows, such as the Fox News Channel. He is listed as a contributor by Fox News Channel, and frequently appears as a guest on various segments; he has also hosted occasional specials for the Fox News Channel. Gingrich is a proponent of the Lean Six Sigma management techniques for waste reduction,[89] and has signed the "Strong America Now" pledge committing to promoting the methods to reduce government spending.[90]

Documentary films and books

Gingrich and his wife, Callista Gingrich, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries with David Bossie and Citizens United. Recent films include A Nation Like No Other, America at Risk, Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, Rediscovering God in America, Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage, and We Have the Power[91] and Nine Days that Changed the World, about the role played by Pope John Paul II in the fall of Communism in Poland.[92] In 2011, Newt and Callista appeared in A City Upon a Hill, on the subject of American exceptionalism.[93]

In 2007, Gingrich authored a book, Rediscovering God in America, arguing that the Founding Fathers actively intended the new republic to not only allow, but encourage, religious expression in the public square. Following publication of the book, he was invited by Jerry Falwell to be the speaker for the second time at Liberty University's graduation, on May 19, 2007, due to Gingrich having, "dedicated much of his time to calling America back to our Christian heritage".[94]

Political activity

Between 2005 and 2007, Gingrich expressed interest in running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.[95] On October 13, 2005, Gingrich suggested he was considering a run for president, saying, "There are circumstances where I will run", elaborating that those circumstances would be if no other candidate champions some of the platform ideas he advocates. On September 28, 2007, Gingrich announced that if his supporters pledged $30 million to his campaign (until October 21), he would seek the nomination.

However, insisting that he had "pretty strongly" considered running,[96] on September 29 spokesman Rick Tyler said that Gingrich would not seek the presidency in 2008 because he could not continue to serve as chairman of American Solutions if he did so.[97] Citing campaign finance law restrictions (the McCain-Feingold campaign law would have forced him to leave his American Solutions political organization if he declared his candidacy), Gingrich said, "I wasn't prepared to abandon American Solutions, even to explore whether a campaign was realistic."[98]

During the 2009 special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Gingrich endorsed moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, rather than Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who had been endorsed by several nationally prominent Republicans.[99] He was heavily criticized for this endorsement, with conservatives questioning his candidacy for President in 2012[100][101] and even comparing him to Benedict Arnold, a traitor during America's War of Independence.[102] Gingrich has since regretted his decision.[103]

Presidential campaign, 2012

In late 2008 several political commentators, including Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic[104] and Robert Novak in the Washington Post,[105] identified Gingrich as a top presidential contender in the 2012 election, with Ambinder reporting that Gingrich was "already planting some seeds in Iowa, New Hampshire". A July 2010 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling indicated that Gingrich was the leading GOP contender for the Republican nomination with 23% of likely Republican voters saying they would vote for him.[106]

Describing his views as a possible candidate during an appearance on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren in March 2009, Gingrich said, "I am very sad that a number of Republicans do not understand that this country is sick of earmarks. [Americans] are sick of politicians taking care of themselves. They are sick of their money being spent in a way that is absolutely indefensible ... I think you're going to see a steady increase in the number of incumbents who have opponents because the American taxpayers are increasingly fed up."[107]

On March 3, 2011, Gingrich officially announced a website entitled "Newt Exploratory 2012" in lieu of a formal exploratory committee for exploration of a potential presidential run.[108] On May 11, 2011, Gingrich officially announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination in 2012.

On June 9, 2011, a group of Gingrich's senior campaign aides left the campaign en masse, leading to doubts about the viability of his presidential run.[109] On June 21, 2011, two more senior aides left.[110][111] In response, Gingrich stated that he had not quit the race for the Republican nomination, and pointed to his experience running for 5 years to win his seat in Congress, spending 16 years helping to build a Republican majority in the house and working for decades to build a Republican majority in Georgia.[112] Some commentators noted Gingrich's resilience throughout his career, in particular with regards to his presidential campaign.[113][114]

Personal life

Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26.[115][116] In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther.[117][118] In 1984, Battley told the Washington Post that the divorce was a "complete surprise" to her. According to Battley, in September 1980, Gingrich and their children visited her while she was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, and Gingrich wanted to discuss the terms of their divorce.[119] Gingrich has disputed that account.[92] In 2011, their daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, said that it was her mother who requested the divorce, that it happened prior to the hospital stay (which was for the removal of a benign tumor, not cancer), and that Gingrich's visit was for the purpose of bringing the couple's children to see their mother, not to discuss the divorce.[120] Gingrich has two daughters from his first marriage. Kathy Gingrich Lubbers is president of Gingrich Communications,[121] and Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author, conservative columnist, and political commentator[122] whose books include 5 Principles for a Successful Life, co-authored with Newt Gingrich.[123]

Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981.[124][125][126][127] In the mid-1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior. They continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal, when Gingrich became a leader of the Republican investigation of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged affairs.[128] In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther. He and Callista currently live in McLean, Virginia.[129] In a 2011 interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network Gingrich addressed his past infidelities by saying, "There's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."[126][127]

A Southern Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, Bisek's faith, on March 29, 2009.[130] He said "over the course of several years, I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace." The moment when he decided to officially become a Catholic was when he saw Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the United States in 2008: "Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded. The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years."[131] Gingrich has stated that he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular. At a 2011 appearance in Columbus, Ohio, he said, "In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life."[92]

Gingrich has been a prolific amateur reviewer of books, especially of military histories and spy novels, for As of 2004, Gingrich held the #488 spot among Amazon's top reviewers. Although an author himself, Gingrich does not review his own works. According to Katherine Mangu-Ward at The Weekly Standard, it is "clear that Newt is fascinated by tipping points—moments where new technology or new ideas cause revolutionary change in the way the world works".[132]

Gingrich is known for, and has written on several occasions about, his great interest in animals.[133][134] According to USA Today, Gingrich's first engagement in civic affairs was speaking to the city council in his hometown, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, about why the city should establish its own zoological park. Gingrich wrote the introduction for the 2008 book America's Best Zoos.[135] Gingrich is also known as a dinosaur enthusiast. A New Yorker comment on his 1995 book To Renew America noted: "Charmingly, he has retained his enthusiasm for the extinct giants into middle age. In addition to including breakthroughs in dinosaur research on his list of futuristic wonders, he specified 'people interested in dinosaurs' as a prime example of who might benefit from his education proposals."[136] Another subject of interest to Gingrich is space exploration, originating in a fascination with the United States/Soviet Union space race during his teenage years.[137] Gingrich has stated that he would like to see the U.S. aggressively pursue new achievements in space, such as sustaining civilizations beyond Earth,[138] and he advocates relying more on the private sector and less on NASA to drive progress.[139] As of 2010, Gingrich serves on the National Space Society Board of Governors.[140]

Political positions

Newt Gingrich has declared his position on many political issues through his public comments and legislative record, including as Speaker of the House. The political initiative with which he is most widely identified was the Contract With America.[141] His engagement of public issues has continued through to the present, in particular as the founder of American Solutions for Winning the Future. More recently, Gingrich has advocated replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with a proposed "Environmental Solutions Agency".[142]

Gingrich's policy reach covers everything from national security to personal responsibility, but Gingrich has been known to take stances that are different from the traditional Republican line. For instance, on immigration, he favors a strong border policy but also favors a guest worker program[143] and a flex-fuel mandate for cars sold in the U.S.[144]

As a nonfiction author, Gingrich's later books have taken a large scale policy focus, including Winning the Future, and the most recent, To Save America. In recent years, Gingrich has identified education as "the number one factor in our future prosperity", and received national attention for partnering with Al Sharpton and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to promote the issue.[145]

Works published


Gingrich has authored or co-authored 17 non-fiction books since 1982.


Gingrich co-wrote the following alternate history novels and series of novels with William R. Forstchen.

Civil War Series

Pacific War Series

Revolutionary War Series

  • To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom, October 2009, ISBN 978-0-312-59106-9
  • Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory, November 2010, ISBN 978-0-312-59107-6


  • Nine Days that Changed the World, Gingrich Productions, April 2010[146]

See also


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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dick Cheney
Minority Whip of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Tom DeLay
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jack Flynt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Johnny Isakson
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Foley
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Dennis Hastert

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