Ten-term Congressman Newt Gingrich from Georgia served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms, from January 1995 to January 1999. Another historic first for Gingrich: he's the only sitting House Speaker in U.S. history sanctioned for a Congressional ethics violation.
Gingrich was Time's Man of the Year in 1995 for leading the Republican Revolution, powered by the Contract with America, that enabled Republicans to retake control of Congress after Bill Clinton's 1992 election to the White House.
Through Liberal Eyes - In 2011, Newt Gingrich is a brazen provocateur and opportunist, poised to utter any partisan comment or take any extremist stance to draw attention to himself.
He's particularly fond of attaching catchy, albeit misleading, labels to gain political advantage over opponents. (Example: Obama is the "the most effective food stamp President in history.")
The bottom line: Newt can capture the Republican 2012 presidential nomination only if Perry, Cain, and Bachmann continue to stumble with Republican voters, and if Romney continues to lack coalition-building momentum. Which means he has a decent chance to win the nomination.
An achilles heel for Newt Gingrich in a 2012 presidential race will be his apparent proclivity for lavish living (six-figure Tiffany charge accounts, Greek Island cruises) in the 21st century with third wife Callista.
Competitors - For most of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nod, Newt has trailed top contenders Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and media personality/businessman Herman Cain.
In mid-November 2011, though, Gingrich bumped up in several polls due mainly to gaffes by competitors Rick Perry and Herman Cain.
Newt Gingrich in Elected Office - After unsuccessful bids for Congress in 1974 and 1976, Gingrich was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, where he served for twenty years. Soon after his election, Rep. Gingrich established the House Military Reform Caucus.
Outspoken, bright and then brimming with fresh conservative ideas, Gingrich rose through House ranks to Minority Whip by 1989. He served as Minority Whip until elected House Speaker in 1995, when Republicans gained control of the House.
Gingrich was chief architect and spokesman for Republicans' 1994 Contract with America. The Contract was a "list of eight reforms the Republicans promised to enact, and ten bills they promised to bring to floor debate and votes, if they were made the majority following the election," per Wikipedia.
Gingrich's House tenure was also marked by headline-grabbing personal failings... among them, 84 ethics violations charges, most related to income taxes and use of nonpartisan forums for politicking, and a six-year affair with a staffer, now his third wife, while Gingrich was pursuing impeachment charges against President Clinton for lying about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Newt Gingrich's Personal Background
- Birth - June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to parents, Newton and Kathleen McPherson, who were divorced before he was born.
Newt was adopted at age three by his mother's second husband, Robert Gingrich, an Army officer whose assignments required frequent family moving, including overseas posts. Three half-sisters.
- Education - Graduated in 1961 from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. BA in History, 1965, Emory University. MA, 1968, and PhD, 1971, in European History, Tulane University.
- Family - Married to third wife Callista Bisek, a political staffer for Gingrich, in 2000. Congressman Gingrich was divorced from his first two wives, both times after messy public allegations of infidelity. First wife was Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher. Second wife was Marianne Ginther, also a political staffer.
Two adult daughters with first wife Jackie: Jackie Gingrich Cushman (b. 1966), conservative commentator, author and founder of Learning Makes a Difference Foundation; and Kathy Gingrich Lubbers (b. 1963), President/CEO of Gingrich Communications, Newt's media and public relations operation.
- Faith - Christian. Converted to Roman Catholic in 2009. Southern Baptist for 40 years.