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Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich (born Newton Leroy McPherson; June 17, 1943) is an American politician who served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Time magazine selected him as the Person 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 Bill Clinton.

A college history professor, political leader, 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. Gingrich's leadership in Congress was marked by opposition to many of the policies of the Clinton Administration. Shortly after the 1998 elections, when Republicans lost five seats in the House, Gingrich announced his resignation from his House seat and as Speaker.

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. Recently, he founded the conservative 527 group American Solutions for Winning the Future.

Early life

Newt Gingrich was born Newton Leroy McPherson, on June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniamarker, to nineteen-year-old Newton Searles McPherson and sixteen-year-old Kathleen Daugherty, who were married in September 1942. His mother raised him by herself until she married Robert Gingrich, who then adopted Newt. Gingrich has a younger half-sister, Candace Gingrich.

Gingrich was the child of a career military family, moving a number of times while growing up and attending school at various military installations. He ultimately graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgiamarker, in 1961. He received a B.A. degree from Emory Universitymarker in Atlantamarker in 1965. He received an M.A. in 1968, and then a Ph.D. in Modern European History from Tulane Universitymarker in New Orleansmarker in 1971. His dissertation topic was Belgian Education policy in Africa. 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 the Rev. Mr G. Avery Lee.

Gingrich taught history at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgiamarker, from 1970 to 1978. He also taught a class, Renewing American Civilization, at Kennesaw State Universitymarker in 1993.

Early political career

Campaign for Congress

In 1974 and 1976, Gingrich made two unsuccessful runs for Congress in Georgia's sixth congressional district, which stretched from the southern Atlantamarker suburbs to the Alabamamarker state line. Gingrich lost both times to incumbent Democrat Jack Flynt. Flynt, a Democrat, 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 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.

Gingrich was reelected six times from this district, facing only one close race. In the House elections of 1990, he defeated Democrat David Worley by 974 votes.

Pre-speakership congressional activities

In 1981, Gingrich co-founded the Congressional Military Reform Caucus (MRC) as well as the Congressional Aviation and Space Caucus. In 1983 he founded the Conservative Opportunity Society, a group that included young conservative House Republicans. In 1983, Gingrich demanded the expulsion of fellow representatives Dan Crane and Gerry Studds for their roles in the Congressional Page sex scandal.

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. 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. In 1989, after House Minority Whip Dick Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense, Gingrich was elected to succeed him. 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.

Election of 1992

During the 1990s round of redistricting, Georgia picked up an additional seat as a result of the 1990 United States Census. However, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly dismantled Gingrich's old district, which stretched from the southern suburbs of Atlanta to the Alabama border. Gingrich's home in Carrolltonmarker was drawn into the Columbusmarker-based 3rd District, represented by five-term Democrat Richard Ray.

At the same time, the Assembly created a new 6th District in Fultonmarker and Cobbmarker counties in the wealthy northern suburbs of Atlanta — an area Gingrich had never represented. However, Gingrich sold his home in Carrollton, moved to Mariettamarker in the new 6th and won a very close Republican primary. The primary victory was tantamount to election in the new, heavily Republican district. Also, Ray narrowly lost to Republican state senator Mac Collins.

Speaker of the House

The Contract with America and rise to Speaker

In the 1994 campaign season, in an effort to offer a concrete alternative to shifting 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 had ten items in it. The contract was signed by Gingrich and other Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. The contract ranged from issues with broad popular support, including 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 Illinoismarker had not run for re-election in 1994, giving Gingrich, the highest-ranking Republican returning to Congress, the inside track to becoming Speaker. 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. 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 held up in the Senate, vetoed by President Bill Clinton, or substantially altered in negotiations with Clinton. The Contract was criticized by the environmental lobbyist group Sierra Club, and by Mother Jones, a magazine that described the contract as a "Trojan horse tactic" that, while deploying the notion of reform, could have the effect of allowing corporate polluters to profit at the expense of the environment; it was referred to by opponents, including President Clinton, as the "Contract on America". However, future legislation and implementation of the contract put many aspects of it into law in some fashion.

Government shutdown and the snub

The momentum of the Republican Revolution stalled in late 1995 and early 1996 during a budget standoff between Congressional Republicans and Democratic President Bill Clinton. Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican majority wanted to slow the rate of government spending. Gingrich allowed previously approved appropriations to expire on schedule, thus allowing parts of the Federal government to shut down for lack of funds. However, Gingrich inflicted a blow to his public image by seeming to suggest that the Republican hard-line stance over the budget was in part due to his feeling "snubbed" by the President during a flight to and from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel. The subsequent event caused Gingrich to get lampooned by some in the media, with one editorial cartoon depicted him as having thrown a temper tantrum. Democratic leaders took the opportunity to attack Gingrich's motives for the budget standoff, which may have contributed to Clinton's re-election in November 1996.

Tom DeLay recounts the event in his book, No Retreat, No Surrender, saying that Gingrich "made the mistake of his life." He goes on to say the following of Gingrich's handling of the shutdown:
"He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One...Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost.
What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child..The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same."

In her autobiography Living History, former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton shows a picture of Bill Clinton, Dole, and Gingrich laughing on the plane. Gingrich commented on this event in his book Lessons Learned the Hard Way, explaining how the picture was taken on the plane going to Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel rather than on the return trip from Israel, contradicting Clinton's claim.

Ethics sanctions

On January 21, 1997, the House voted overwhelmingly (395 to 28) to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich for ethics violations dating back to September 1994. The house ordered Gingrich to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House's 208-year history it had disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.

Eighty-four ethics charges, most of which were leveled by House Democratic Whip David Bonior, were filed against Speaker Gingrich during his term, including claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes. Eighty-three of the 84 allegations were dropped. Gingrich denied the charges over misuse of tax-exempt funds; however, he admitted to providing inaccurate statements during the probe over the college course and agreed to pay US$300,000 for the cost of the investigation. The House Ethics Committee concluded that inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented "intentional or ... reckless" disregard of House rules.The full committee panel did not reach a conclusion about whether Gingrich had violated federal tax law, instead they opted to leave it up to the IRS.

In 1999, the IRS cleared the organizations connected with the "Renewing American Civilization" courses under investigation for possible tax violations.

Leadership challenge

In the summer of 1997, a few House Republicans had come to see Gingrich's public image as a liability and attempted to replace him as Speaker. According to Time, the replacement was engineered by several Republican backbenchers, including Steve Largent of Oklahomamarker, Lindsey Graham of South Carolinamarker and Mark Souder of Indianamarker. They soon gained the support of the four Republicans who ranked directly below Gingrich in the House leadership—Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohiomarker, and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New Yorkmarker.

On July 9, DeLay, Boehner and Paxon had the first of several secret meetings to discuss the rebellion. The next night, DeLay met with 20 of the plotters in Largent's office, and appeared to assure them that the leadership was with them.

Under the plan, Armey, DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum; resign, or be voted out. Combined with the votes of the Democrats, there appeared to be enough votes to vacate the chair. However, the rebels decided that they wanted Paxon to be the new Speaker. At that point, Armey backed out, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup.

In response, Gingrich forced Paxon to resign his post, but backed off initial plans to force a vote of confidence in the rest of the Republican leadership.

Resignation of the speakership and seat in the House

Gingrich's official portrait as Speaker
By 1998, Gingrich had become a highly visible and polarizing figure in the public's eye, making him a target for Democratic congressional candidates across the nation. His approval rating was 45% in April 1998.

Republicans lost 5 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 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well. He had been handily reelected to an 11th term in that election, but declined to take his seat. 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."

Post-congressional life

Gingrich has since remained involved in national politics and public policy debate. He is a senior fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, focusing upon health care (he has founded the Center for Health Transformation), information technology, the military, and politics. Gingrich is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the conservative 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 also a guiding coalition member of the Project on National Security Reform.

Newt and his wife, Callista Gingrich, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. Recent films include, Rediscovering God in America, We Have the Power, and Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny. Rediscovering God in America, Part II, and Nine Days That Changed The World, are currently in production.

In June 2006, Gingrich publicly called for Congressman Jack Murtha to be censured by the United States Congress for Murtha's statement that America was a greater threat to world stability than Iran or North Korea. Following Gingrich's comment, the paper that originally printed the statement backed away and admitted that Murtha had been misquoted. The paper insisted that it was merely citing a poll that showed the world believed the United States was a greater threat than either of those nations. Gingrich made no further comment on the issue, nor did he apologize or retract his call for Murtha to be censured.

In late September 2007, Gingrich founded 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.

Besides politics, Gingrich has authored a book, Rediscovering God in America, attempting to demonstrate that the Founding Fathers actively intended the new republic to not only allow, but encourage, religious expression in the public square. Since Gingrich has, "dedicated much of his time to calling America back to our Christian heritage," Jerry Falwell invited him to be the speaker, for the second time, at Liberty University's graduation, on May 19, 2007. Speaker Gingrich has also collaborated with David Bossie and Citizens United Productions to produce and co-host with his wife, Callista Gingrich, a DVD which shares its name with the book.

On May 19, 2009, Newt Gingrich was a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Gingrich made an appearance on the television program to talk about his book, 5 Principles for a Successful Life, and he also discussed current political issues that have affected the Republican Party.

Declined 2008 presidential run

Between 2005 and 2007, Gingrich expressed interest in being a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for the Presidency. 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, 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. 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."

2009 Election Involvement

During the 2009 special election in New York's 23rd congressional district Gingrich weighed in and endorsed Republican Dede Scozzafava. The conservative base to which Gingrich has traditionally appealed reacted with a backlash questioning his candidacy for President in 2012, and even comparing him to Benedict Arnold.

2012 presidential speculation

Although he holds political beliefs that many claim are the reason for the downfall of the Republican party, several political commentators, including Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic and Robert Novak in the Washington Post, have identified Gingrich as a top contender for a presidential run in the 2012 election, with Ambinder stating that he "is already planting some seeds in Iowamarker, New Hampshiremarker".

Gingrich warned, "If the Republicans can’t break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012." Gingrich thrashed Republicans for allowing increased spending during the Bush administration and for not doing enough to block President Barack Obama's early initiatives. In an interview from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Gingrich said, "I am very sad that a number of Republicans do not understand that this country is sick of earmarks. They 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." Gingrich noted how, at American Solutions, the organization is "working to help people with the April 15 taxpayers parties," because it was good for those Americans who are fed up to communicate how ready they are to fire some of their incumbents next year. When asked if he is thinking of running in 2012, Gingrich replied, "I want to spend all of 2009 trying to develop good policies at American Solutions ... trying to defeat bad policies, like the effort to take away your right to a secret ballot before being forced to join a union. We need to focus everybody on 2009 and finding solutions this year because we are on the edge of being in big trouble."

Public Image

Favorable Ratings
Date Favorable Unfavorable Reference
Nov. 1994 6% 11%
Jan. 1995 10% 23%
Feb. 1995 22% 33%
Dec. 1995 24% 56%
June 1996 25% 57%
April 1997 23% 59%
Jan. 1998 32% ?
July 1998 31% 47%
April 2009 36% 44%
May 2009 30% 47%
June 2009 35% 46%

Personal life

Gingrich has been married three times. He married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old. She was seven years his senior at 26 years old. They had two daughters and divorced in 1981. Numerous allegations that Gingrich was callous in the way he handled the divorce were made in a 1984 Mother Jones magazine article. In 1981, six months after his divorce was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther. He remained married to Ginther until 2000, when they divorced. Shortly thereafter, Gingrich then married Callista Bisek, with whom he was conducting an extra-marital affair during the Congressional investigation into allegations that Bill Clinton lied under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Newt and Callista Gingrich currently live in McLean, Virginiamarker.

A Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, his wife's faith, on March 29, 2009.

Political positions

Some specific viewpoints he has expressed in recent years include:

Illegal immigration

From Gingrich's five challenges:"No serious nation in the age of terror can afford to have wide-open borders with millions of illegal aliens crossing at will."

Although a source of friction in the conservative wing of the GOP (and some pro-union Blue Dog Democrats), Gingrich supports a "guest worker program" for foreign workers, meaning that an undetermined number of foreign workers would be allowed to come to the United States and work for a period of time, then return to their home country. Gingrich also supports the idea of allowing some of these guest workers to become citizens. In his book, Winning the Future, he says:

"Along with total border control, we must make it easier for people who enter the United States legally, to work for a set period of time, obey the law, and return home.
The requirements for participation in a worker visa program should be tough and uncompromising.
The first is essential: Everyone currently working in the United States illegally must return to their home country to apply for the worker visa program.
Anything less than requiring those who are here illegally to return home to apply for legal status is amnesty, plain and simple."

Climate change

In April 2007, Gingrich held an open debate on climate change with Senator John Kerry. In this debate, he stated that he believes that global warming is indeed an occurring phenomenon: "My message, I think, is that the evidence is sufficient that we should move toward the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading in the atmosphere." Gingrich's environmental ideas were revealed in his book, A Contract with the Earth. Gingrich supports tax breaks to mitigate carbon emissions instead of cap-and-trade. Gingrich has expressed commitment to a conservative take on conservation efforts.

Wall Street bailouts

In late 2008, Gingrich voiced his strong opposition to the U.S. government bailout of Wall Streetmarker. He described the $700 billion bailout plan as "just wrong," that "it's likely to fail, and it's likely to make the situation worse over time." Gingrich further reiterated that the bailout was "essentially wrong" in other appearances on Fox News on September 23 and 24, 2008. Some commentators have speculated that he undercut John McCain by rallying the conservative elements in the House to vote no on the bailout. By September 29 he decided that he would "reluctantly and sadly" support it.


In an interview with The Economist, Gingrich stated, "As a British court noted, waterboarding is not torture." Gingrich also believes George W. Bush's policy of "aggressive national security" kept the US safe and "blocked a number of planned attacks," but he admitted that "In the larger and longer war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam, it is clear we are not yet winning".

In terms of national security, Gingrich commented, "...we are watching the Obama administration return to the criminal-justice attitudes that failed to keep [the U.S.] safe in the Clinton years... The Obama team is even more pro-terrorist rights and anti-national security than the Clinton team was."

Books authored


  • The Government's Role in Solving Societal Problems. Associated Faculty Press, Incorporated. January 1982 ISBN 0-86733-026-0
  • Window of Opportunity. Tom Doherty Associates, December 1985. ISBN 0-312-93923-X
  • Contract with America (co-editor). Times Books, December 1994. ISBN 0-8129-2586-6
  • Restoring the Dream. Times Books, May 1995. ISBN 0-8129-2666-8
  • Quotations from Speaker Newt. Workman Publishing Company, Inc., July 1995. ISBN 0-7611-0092-X
  • To Renew America. Farrar Straus & Giroux, July 1996. ISBN 0-06-109539-7
  • Lessons Learned The Hard Way. HarperCollins Publishers, May 1998 ISBN 0-06-019106-6
  • Presidential Determination Regarding Certification of the Thirty-Two Major Illicit Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries. DIANE Publishing Company, September 1999. ISBN 0-7881-3186-9
  • Saving Lives and Saving Money. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, April 2003. ISBN 0-9705485-4-0
  • Winning the Future. Regnery Publishing, January 2005. ISBN 0-89526-042-5
  • Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future. Integrity Publishers, October 2006. ISBN 1-59145-482-4
  • A Contract with the Earth, Johns Hopkins University Press, October 1, 2007. ISBN 0-8018-8780-2
  • Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works. Regnery Publishing, January 2008. ISBN 978-1596980532
  • Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis. With Vince Haley. Regnery Publishing, September 2008 ISBN 1596985763

Alternative history

Alternate history is a subgenre of speculative fiction that is set in a world in which history has diverged from history as it is generally known. Gingrich co-wrote the following alternate history novels and series of novels with William R. Forstchen.

Civil War Series

Pacific War Series




External links

Grassroots campaigns

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