Newton Leroy Gingrich (born June 17, 1943), Ph.D., served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Time magazine selected him as the Man of the Year for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the House, ending 40 years of Democratic Party majorities in that body. During his tenure as Speaker he represented the public face of the Republican opposition to Bill Clinton.
A college history professor, conservative political leader, and prolific author, Gingrich twice ran unsuccessfully for the House before first winning a seat in November 1978. He was re-elected 10 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 the 1994 Congressional elections and subsequently was elected Speaker. Gingrich's leadership in Congress was marked by opposition to many of the policies of the Clinton Administration, culminating in the impeachment of President Clinton shortly after Gingrich resigned as Speaker. Shortly after the 1998 elections, where Republicans lost 5 seats in the House, Gingrich announced his resignation as Speaker.
After resigning his seat, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant and continues to write works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction. He has expressed interest in being a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for the Presidency.
Newt Gingrich was born Newton Leroy McPherson on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 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, a gay and lesbian rights activist who was born when Newt was already a young adult.
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, Georgia in 1961. He received a B.A. degree from Emory University in Atlanta in 1965. He received an MA in 1968 and was awarded the PhD in 1971 in Modern European History from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Gingrich taught history at University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia from 1970 to 1978, although he was untenured. Newt also taught a class, Renewing American Civilization, at Kennesaw State University in 1993.
Newt 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). After an alleged affair with Ann Manning in 1977, Gingrich sought a divorce from Battley. In 1981, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther, to whom he remained married until 1999, the same year Gingrich had an affair with a then 33-year-old Congressional staffer, Callista Bisek. He and Bisek were married in 2000 and currently reside in Virginia. Gingrich has two daughters, Kathy and Jackie from his marriage to Jackie Battley, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.
Although college peers noted Gingrich's preference to discuss politics more than his personal life, Gingrich’s personal life has been the subject of much attention from both the media and his political opponents over the years. In 1992, his Democratic opponent, Tony Center, ran an ad claiming that Gingrich had "delivered divorce papers to his wife the day after her cancer operation," which was not strictly true, although friends have acknowledged that he discussed divorce terms with his estranged wife while visiting her in the hospital.. In March of 2007, it was revealed that Gingrich was having an affair while serving as Speaker of the House. Since this affair occurred during the same period when Congress investigated and impeached President Clinton, parallels have been drawn between the two situations. However, President Clinton was ultimately impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice during the Paula Jones sexual harassment investigation, and not for his affair with Monica Lewinsky." In March 2007, Gingrich appeared on conservative Christian leader James Dobson's radio program and confessed, "There are things in my own life that I have turned to God and have gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought God's forgiveness."
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 workers program" for Mexican citizens, meaning that an undetermined number of Mexican citizens would be allowed to come to the United States and work for a period of time, then return to Mexico. 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 illegal 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."
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 border. Gingrich lost both times to incumbent Democrat Jack Flynt. Flynt was a conservative Democrat who had served in Congress since 1955 and never faced a serious challenge prior to Gingrich's two runs against him. However, Gingrich nearly defeated Flynt in 1974, a year that was otherwise a very bad year for Republicans due to Watergate. A 1976 rematch was similarly close, despite the presence of favorite son Jimmy Carter on the presidential ballot.
Flynt chose not to run for re-election in 1978, and the Democrats fielded state senator Virginia Shapard in his place. Shapard's support of the Equal Rights Amendment backfired against her in the socially conservative district, and Gingrich defeated her by almost 9 points.
Gingrich was reelected six times from this district, facing only one truly difficult race. In the House elections of 1990, he defeated Democrat David Worley by only 974 votes.
In 1981, Gingrich co-founded the Congressional Military Reform Caucus as well as the Congressional 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 and eventually resigned as a result of the inquiry. Gingrich's success in forcing Wright's 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, especially 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 this alleged corruption.
See also: U.S. House election, 1992
During the 1990s round of redistricting, Georgia picked up an additional seat as a result of the 1990 United States Census. However, the Democratic-controlled General Assembly split Gingrich's old territory among three other districts. Gingrich's home in Carrollton was drawn into the Columbus-based 3rd District, represented by five-term Democrat Richard Ray.
At the same time, they 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. Also, Ray narrowly lost to Republican state senator Mac Collins.
Main article: Contract with America
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, Gingrich presented Dick Armey's and his Contract with America. The contract was signed by himself 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.
Longtime House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois had not run for re-election in 1994, giving Gingrich, as 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 Sierra Club and by Mother Jones magazine as a Trojan horse tactic that, while deploying the rhetoric of reform, would have the real 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, most parts of the Contract eventually became law in some fashion and represented a dramatic departure from the legislative goals and priorities of previous Congresses. See Implementation of the Contract for a detailed discussion of what was and was not enacted.
The momentum of the Republican Revolution stalled in late 1995 and early 1996 as a result of a budget fight between Congressional Republicans and President Bill Clinton. Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican majority wanted deep cuts to government spending, which Clinton flatly rejected. Without enough votes to override President Clinton's veto, Gingrich led the Republicans not to submit a revised budget, allowing the previously approved appropriations to expire on schedule, and causing parts of the Federal government to shut down for lack of funds.
Gingrich inflicted a temporary 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 the day before following his return from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel. Gingrich was lampooned in the media as a petulant figure with an inflated self-image, and editorial cartoons depicted him as having thrown a temper tantrum. Democratic leaders took the opportunity to attack Gingrich's motives for the budget standoff, and some say the shutdown might have contributed to Clinton's re-election in November 1996.
Tom DeLay recounts the event in his book, No Retreat, No Surrender, that Gingrich "made the mistake of his life" and says the following of Gingrich's mis-step 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 morat 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."
Gingrich was first accused of unethical behavior when he accepted an advance as part of a book deal as well as numerous other counts. Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Speaker Gingrich during his term, including claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes and using the GOPAC political action committee as a slush fund; see Joseph Gaylord. Gingrich retained former U.S. Representative Edwin Bethune of Arkansas, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and lobbyist, to represent him.
Following an investigation by the House Ethics Committee, Gingrich admitted that he had violated House rules and accepted the house committee's recommendation for punishment. Gingrich was sanctioned for $300,000 after the House Ethics Committee concluded that his use of tax-deductible money for political purposes and inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented "intentional or . . . reckless" disregard of House rules. Special Counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich violated federal tax law and had lied to the ethics panel in an effort to force the committee to dismiss the complaint against him.
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 conspiracy was engineered by several Republican backbenchers, including Steve Largent of Oklahoma, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mark Souder of Indiana. They soon gained the support of the four Republicans who ranked directly below Gingrich in the House leadership — Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio, and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York.
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.
By 1998, Gingrich had become a highly visible and polarizing figure in the public's eye, making him an easy target for Democratic congressional candidates across the nation. In 1997 a strong majority of Americans believed Gingrich should have been replaced as Speaker of the House, and he held an all-time low job approval rating of 28%. During this period, Gingrich focused on the perjury charges against Clinton as a unifying campaign theme in national Republican advertising. While Republicans believed this theme would ensure gains in the 1998 midterm elections, they instead lost five seats in the House — the worst performance in 64 years for a party that didn't hold the presidency.
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. According to Newsweek, he had lost control over his caucus long before the election, and it was possible that he would not have been reelected as Speaker in any case.
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 on health care (he has founded the Center for Health Transformation), information technology, the military, and politics. He sometimes serves as a commentator, guest or panel member on television news shows, mostly on the Fox News Channel. He is listed as a contributor by Fox News Channel, and frequently appears as a guest on the channel; he has also hosted occasional specials for the Fox News Channel.
In June 2006, Gingrich publicly called for Congressman Jack Murtha to be censured by the United States Congress for what Gingrich claims was Murtha's statement that America was a greater threat to world stability than Iran or North Korea. The paper that originally printed the statement has recently backed away and admitted that Murtha had been misquoted and was merely citing a poll that showed the world believed the United States was a greater threat than either of those nations. Gingrich, however, has refused to apologize or retract his call for Murtha to be censured.
Besides politics Gingrich has written a book, Rediscovering God in America. Since Gingrich has, "dedicated much of his time to calling America back to our Christian heritage", Jerry Falwell has invited him to be the speaker, for the second time, at Liberty University's graduation, May 19, 2007.
In 1995, Gingrich collaborated with William R. Forstchen on the alternate history novel 1945, describing a World War II in which the US fought against (and defeated) Japan only, while Nazi Germany defeated the Soviet Union, and the two confront each other in a cold war that swiftly turns hot.
Among other things it was described as being "a disguised tract against gun control", as the key scene depicts an armed Tennessee civilian militia, led by Alvin York, defeating Otto Skorzeny's commandos, who raid Oak Ridge. It ended with a cliffhanger — Rommel invading Scotland and the British facing a desperate fight — but a promised sequel, provisionally called "Fortress Europa", has yet to be written.
Some years later, Gingrich and Forstchen turned to co-authoring an alternate history trilogy of the American Civil War, in which the Confederacy wins the battle of Gettysburg. The trilogy consists of Gettysburg (2003), Grant Comes East (2004), and Never Call Retreat (2005).
In 2007 they are publishing the first of a new series, Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th.
Since the release of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America in January 2005, Gingrich has been mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. He has made several trips to Iowa and New Hampshire to discuss his book and on April 1, 2005, David Yepsen wrote in the Des Moines Register that Gingrich was "setting a high standard for what other GOP candidates need to be talking about — and doing — if they want to win here." Gingrich has voiced criticism against the Republican Party, and has argued that the party must adapt if it is to remain a dominant force in U.S. politics. Should he run, Gingrich will prove a complicated candidate. Less probusiness than proentrepreneurial, he is an ardent conservationist who promotes what he terms "green conservatism" and "entrpreneurial environmentalism."
In 2005, Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista established the Newt L. and Callista L. Gingrich Scholarship for instrumental music majors at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. (Gingrich's wife is a Luther alumna.)
On 13 October 2005, Gingrich suggested he is actually 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 advocated by Gingrich.
In March 2006, Gingrich began a regular series of daily radio commentaries, titled "Winning the Future", the same as his recent book. These commentaries are modeled after Ronald Reagan's radio addresses in the mid-1970s.
On 29 April 2006, supporters of Gingrich launched http://www.draftnewt.org to form a grassroots movement to support a possible Gingrich run for the Presidency.
He has consistently said that he will not announce his decision on candidacy until September 30th, because on September 27th (the anniversary of the Contract With America), American Solutions will be holding nation-wide workshops.
The website ConservativesBetrayed.com polled 525 people who attended CPAC 2007, and 87.9% believed that Gingrich would govern as a conservative. He was beaten only by Tom Tancredo, who polled at 88.1%.
On May 14, 2007, Gingrich stated on Good Morning America that there was a "great possibility" that he would run for President in 2008. On May 20, Gingrich further addressed speculation on this topic on Meet the Press in response to questioning from Tim Russert.
MR. RUSSERT: So you’re thinking about running?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, I’m thinking about thinking about running. But I’m—I won’t do anything at all about the possibility of running until after September 29th when we have our second workshop.
MR. RUSSERT: So by October you should have a decision?
MR. GINGRICH: By, by October I’m confident that we’ll be chatting.
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 are likely to be revealed in his forthcoming book, A Contract with the Earth, which is scheduled for release in the fall of 2007. At the forum Gingrich supported tax breaks to mitigate carbon emissions instead of regulations such as cap-and-trade.
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.