Politics The Contenders: Newt Gingrich
posted by January 15 at 15:05 PMon
Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.
Newt Gingrich’s name keeps circulating as one of those back-bench Republicans who could make a credible run for president if the conditions proved just right. For now, he likes to say that he is “not running for president,” but “running to change this country.”
Newt Gingrich was born Newton McPherson in 1943, in Pennsylvania. His parents divorced soon after he was born and when his mother re-married, he was adopted by her new husband, Robert Gingrich.
He received a BA from Emory University in 1965 and went on to garner both an MA and then a PhD from Tulane University in Modern European History. He then taught history at West Georgia College until 1978, but was denied tenure.
Newt Gingrich already had two unsuccessful bids for Congress under his belt before finally, in 1978, he won a Congressional seat representing Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. He was re-elected 10 times. In 1989 he became House Minority Whip after Dick Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense.
In 1994 he co-authored the Republicans’ “Contract with America” and, after his party took control of the House for the first time in 40 years, Gingrich became Speaker of the House.
Congress voted on all ten of the contract’s issues within the first 100 days of the session. Democrats filed 84 ethics charges against Speaker Gingrich during his term, all of which were eventually dropped. After the poor performance of Republicans in the 1998 Congressional elections, Gingrich stepped down as Speaker and resigned from his Congressional post. Many believe that it was his relentless attacks against President Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal that let to the Republican Party’s slide in public opinion, and that his resignation was a preemptive measure before he was forced out by his own party.
Since then, Gingrich has been a bit of a political gadfly, appearing as a special commentator for Fox News Channel, sparring with Ali G….
….and, recently, declaring World War III:
On the issues, Gingrich is a proud member of the “activist judges” chorus (both on gay marriage and on abortion rights). He’s pro-death-penalty, supports amending the Constitution to support prayer in schools, opposes the Kyoto Accord, and has been somewhat critical of the conduct of the Iraq War.
Gingrich has been married 3 times and has two daughters with his first wife, whom he divorced as she was recovering from cancer. It was rumored that he was involved with his third wife, Calista Bisek, a House aide, while he was still married to his second wife.
(With help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)