Newt Gingrich biography
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.
Elected to Congress
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.
The contract included welfare reform, tougher crime laws, a balanced budget, and other conservative policies.
Sure enough, the 1994 congressional elections brought about what would be called the "Republican Revolution." After four decades of Democratic control, the GOP won the majority in the House, and Gingrich was elected speaker. Fiercely opposed to many policies of President Clinton, Gingrich was instrumental in getting Clinton to reluctantly sign the GOP's welfare reform act after two initial vetoes. It was a major victory for Gingrich. Gingrich also had other major pieces of legislation passed, including a balanced budget and a capital gains tax cut.
Gingrich's accomplishments were not without controversy. His popularity began to decline amidst partial government shutdowns in 1995. Gingrich was widely blamed for the shutdowns, after he had refused to compromise with President Clinton on budget cuts.
Ethical considerations were at the heart of much criticism of the speaker. In 1995, he returned a $4.5 million book advance that the House Ethics Committee had questioned. Another ethics investigation arose about whether Gingrich had used tax-exempt donations to fund a college course he had taught while serving in Congress. Gingrich negotiated an agreement with the House Ethics Committee, and he payed $300,000 for the cost of the investigation. The House voted to reprimand him by a vote of 395 to 28. In 1997, Gingrich was narrowly re-elected.
In 1998, a scandal broke that would have a big impact on Gingrich's career. Clinton was alleged to have lied before a federal grand jury about his extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich pushed for impeachment, and for Clinton's removal from office. Congressional hearings and a media frenzy created a backlash against Republicans, as many voters felt they had gone too far.
In the 1998 midterm elections, Republicans lost five seats to Democrats. The tides had turned against Gingrich, and even members of his own party were critical of the speaker's tactics and the image he projected of the Republican party. In November 1998, Gingrich stepped down as speaker of the House. In January 1999, he resigned his seat in Congress.
Gingrich remained involved in politics, serving as a consultant and television commentator on the Fox News Channel. In 2007, he founded American Solutions for Winning the Future, a public policy organization. In May 2011, Gingrich announced he would seek the Republican nomination for president.
During his campaign, Gingrich tried to position himself as the ideal conservative candidate. He attempted to achieve victory with his calls for a balanced budget, advancements in domestic energy production and religious liberty. But he may be best remembered for his intense attacks on the Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. Gingrich painted a portrait of Romney as an unethical businessman who "looted companies."
Gingrich made some missteps along the way, catching bad press for his troubled finances and his disorganized campaign.
He also had some offbeat proposals, including the creation of an American colony on the Moon. In January 2012, Gingrich won the state primary of South Carolina. He then won his home state of Georgia in March. These proved to be his only two victories. That May, Gingrich finally decided to pull out of the race.
"Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich told the press. He vowed to continue fighting for the causes that he believes in, but he ruled another presidential run.
A prolific author, Gingrich has written several books, including Lessons Learned the Hard Way (1998), Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America (2005), Rediscovering God in America (2006), and To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine (2010). He also cowrote an alternative history series on the Civil War and World War II.
Newt Gingrich married Jackie Battley in 1962, when he was 19 years old. The couple had two daughters together, Jackie and Kathy, before their split in 1980. Gingrich remarried in 1981 to Marianne Ginther, whom he met during a political fundraiser in Ohio. Ginther and Gingrich divorced in 1999.
Gingrich currently lives in McLean, Virginia, with his third wife, Callista Bisek. The couple married in 2000, and together they create public policy documentaries through their production company, Gingrich Productions.