ENG: Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich (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 and before that, as House Minority Whip. He represented Georgia's 6th congressional district as a Republican member from 1979 until he resigned from Congress, and as speaker, effective January 3, 1999.
Gingrich was raised in Hummelstown near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and on military bases where his father was stationed. An author and historian, Gingrich twice ran unsuccessfully for the House in the 1970s during the eight years he was teaching history in college. On his third try, he won a seat in the election of November 1978 and was re-elected ten times. Although elected, Gingrich did not serve the tenth term. He resigned instead on Nov.
5, 1998, three days after the election. The Republican Party lost congressional seats in the election and it became clear that Rep. Bob Livingston (R-Louisiana) had mounted a campaign to depose Gingrich as party leader and speaker. Gingrich had "been a lightning rod for controversy ever since he steered his party to the majority in 1994 and took control of the speakers gavel."
A co-author and architect of Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of Republican Party success in the 1994 Congressional election. In 1995, Time magazine named him "Man of the Year" for his role in ending 40 years of majority rule by the Democratic Party.
During his four years as House speaker, Gingrich sometimes opposed President Bill Clinton but he also worked closely with Clinton, in 1996, to limit public welfare, and, in 1997, to pass a capital gains tax cut and, in 1998, to pass the first balanced budget since 1969.
In the 13 years after resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives, he became a highly paid political consultant. He has written twenty-three books including historical fiction. He is the founder and/or chair of American Solutions for Winning the Future, Center for Health Transformation, Gingrich Productions and Renewing American Leadership. In May 2011, he announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination to run for the U.S.
Gingrich was born at the Harrisburg Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 17, 1943. He was named Newton Leroy McPherson. His mother, Kathleen "Kit" (née Daugherty; 1925–2003) and father, Newton Searles McPherson, had married in September 1942, but the marriage fell apart within days. In 1946, his mother married Army officer Robert Gingrich (1925–1996), who adopted Newt. Gingrich has three younger half-sisters, Candace Gingrich, Susan Gingrich, and Roberta Brown.
Gingrich is of German, English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry, and was raised a Lutheran.
In 1961, he graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. He became interested in politics during his teen years while living in Orléans, France, where he visited the site of the Battle of Verdun and learned about the sacrifices made there and the importance of political leadership.
He received a B.A. in history from Emory University in Atlanta in 1965, a M.A. in 1968, and a PhD in modern European history from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1971. His dissertation was on "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945–1960".
While at Tulane, Gingrich joined the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church and was baptized by Rev. G. Avery Lee. In 1970, Gingrich joined the history department at West Georgia College as an assistant professor. In 1974 he moved to the geography department and was instrumental in establishing an inter-disciplinary environmental studies program. Denied tenure, he left the college in 1978. Fifteen years later, in 1993, he taught a class, Renewing American Civilization, at Kennesaw State College in Georgia.
Speaker of the House
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 and President Clinton, who called it the "Contract on America", 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.
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.
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. 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."
Presidential campaign, 2012
In late 2008 several political commentators, including Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic and Robert Novak in the Washington Post, 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.
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."
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. 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. On June 21, 2011, two more senior aides left. 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. Some commentators noted Gingrich's resilience throughout his career, in particular with regards to his presidential campaign.
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. Gingrich and Battley have two daughters from this marriage: Kathy Gingrich Lubbers is president of Gingrich Communications, and Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author, conservative columnist, and political commentator whose books include 5 Principles for a Successful Life, co-authored with Newt Gingrich. In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. 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. Gingrich has disputed that account. 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, and that Gingrich's visit was for the purpose of bringing the couple's children to see their mother, not to discuss the divorce.
Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981. 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 investigation of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged affairs. In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther. He and Callista currently live in McLean, Virginia. 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."
A Southern Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, Bisek's faith, on March 29, 2009. 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." 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."
Gingrich has been a prolific amateur reviewer of books, especially of military histories and spy novels, for Amazon.com. 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".
Gingrich is known for, and has written on several occasions about, his great interest in animals. 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. 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." 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. Gingrich has stated that he would like to see the U.S. aggressively pursue new achievements in space, such as sustaining civilizations beyond Earth, and he advocates relying more on the private sector and less on NASA to drive progress. As of 2010, Gingrich serves on the National Space Society Board of Governors.