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With his "Contract with America," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich established his position as the head of the anti-Clinton Republican wave in 1994.
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After the 1994 mid-term elections, Newt Gingrich became the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years. Most of the legislative items in his well-publicized "Contract with America" were passed by the House and many became law. His term as Speaker was marked by his opposition to many of Clinton's policies, which led to a budget showdown, government shutdowns, and acrimonious impeachment proceedings. However, Gingrich and Clinton also reached agreements on welfare reform, a capital gains tax cut,
and a budget deal that led to four straight balanced budgets. Gingrich resigned from Congress in 1999. Gingrich authored several books, and stayed involved in politics, serving as a political commentator and a consultant for various think tanks. In May 2011 Gingrich announced he would seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.
Newt Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His mother Kathleen Daugherty and father Newton Searles McPherson divorced soon after Newt was born. Kathleen remarried to an Army officer named Robert Gingrich, who adopted the boy. Gingrich has three younger half-sisters, Candace, Susan, and Roberta.
Growing up, Gingrich's family moved around frequently, like many military families. He graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia, and received a B.A. from Emory University in 1965.
Gingrich pursued higher education, receiving an M.A. in 1968 and a Ph.D. in modern European history from Tulane University in 1971. While in New Orleans, Gingrich developed an interest in religion, and was baptized in a Baptist church. Gingrich worked early on in academia, as an assistant professor of history and geography at West Georgia College.
Always interested in history and politics, Gingrich got involved as the Southern regional director for Nelson Rockefeller. Gingrich launched his first campaign for congress in 1974. He lost in 1974, and again in 1976, to the Democratic incumbent. In 1978, Gingrich finally won a seat in the House. He would be re-elected to Congress 10 times.
From his first days in Congress, Gingrich was an influential conservative member of the Republican party. He formed the Conservative Opportunity Society in 1983, a group of Republican delegates whose ideas influenced Ronald Reagan's policies.
In 1988, Gingrich led the charge against Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright, who was alleged to have violated campaign finance rules. Wright was forced out, giving Gingrich a boost among his party. Gingrich's star continued to rise, and when House Minority Whip Dick Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense, Gingrich was elected to take his place.
During this period, Gingrich became known for his aggressive, often combative, style. With an emphasis on morality, he was aided by the House Banking Scandal and the Congressional Post Office scandal. Gingrich used his influence over the Republican party to draft the Contract with America, a platform of 10 policies they would push for if the Republicans took the majority in the congressional elections.