Newt is an American politician who served as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He represented Georgia's 6th congressional district as a Republican from 1979 until his resignation in 1999. He is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Born and raised near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Gingrich attended Emory University and received his Ph.D. from Tulane University. In the 1970s he taught history and geography at West Georgia College. During this period he mounted several races for the United States House of Representatives, before winning the election of November 1978. He served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995.
A co-author and architect of the Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of Republican Party success in the 1994 congressional election. In 1995, Time magazine named him "Man of the Year" for his role in ending 40 years of majority rule by the Democratic Party. During his four years as House speaker, Gingrich sometimes opposed President Bill Clinton, but he also worked closely with Clinton in 1996 to limit public welfare; in 1997 to pass a capital gains tax cut; and in 1998 to pass the first balanced budget since 1969. He was disciplined in January 1997 by the House of Representatives for ethics accusations, although a full hearing was avoided.
In the late 1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek. They continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal, when Gingrich launched the investigation of President Clinton for obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged affairs. Gingrich resigned from the House on November 5, 1998, three days after being elected to his 11th term. He had "been a lightning rod for controversy ever since he steered his party to the majority in 1994 and took control of the speaker's gavel".
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. Following an investigation by the House Ethics Committee Gingrich was sanctioned US$300,000. Gingrich acknowledged in January 1997 that "In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee". The House Ethics Committee concluded that 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. The full committee panel did not agree whether tax law had been violated and left that issue up to the IRS. In 1999, the IRS cleared the organizations connected with the "Renewing American Civilization" courses under investigation for possible tax violations.
In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Gingrich's public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted "coup" began July 9 with a meeting of Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the attempted coup.
On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly, as the only member of the leadership who had been appointed to his position—by Gingrich—instead of elected.
Republicans lost five seats in the House in the 1998 elections—the worst midterm performance in 64 years for a party that didn't hold the presidency. Polls showed that Gingrich and the Republican Party's attempt to remove President Clinton from office was deeply unpopular among voters. Gingrich suffered much of the blame for the election loss. Facing a rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 5, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well. Gingrich made this announcement only a day after being elected to an 11th term from his district. Commenting on his departure, Gingrich said, "I'm willing to lead but I'm not willing to preside over people who are cannibals. My only fear would be that if I tried to stay, it would just overshadow whoever my successor is."
Between 2005 and 2007, Gingrich expressed interest in running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. On October 13, 2005, Gingrich suggested he was 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 he advocates. On September 28, 2007, Gingrich announced that if his supporters pledged $30 million to his campaign (until October 21), he would seek the nomination.
However, insisting that he had "pretty strongly" considered running, on September 29 spokesman Rick Tyler said that Gingrich would not seek the presidency in 2008 because he could not continue to serve as chairman of American Solutions if he did so. Citing campaign finance law restrictions (the McCain-Feingold campaign law would have forced him to leave his American Solutions political organization if he declared his candidacy), Gingrich said, "I wasn't prepared to abandon American Solutions, even to explore whether a campaign was realistic."
During the 2009 special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Gingrich endorsed moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, rather than Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who had been endorsed by several nationally prominent Republicans. He was heavily criticized for this endorsement, with conservatives questioning his candidacy for President in 2012 and even comparing him to Benedict Arnold, a traitor during America's War of Independence. Gingrich has since regretted his decision.
Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26. Gingrich and Battley have two daughters from this marriage: Kathy Gingrich Lubbers is president of Gingrich Communications, and Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author, conservative columnist, and political commentator whose books include 5 Principles for a Successful Life, co-authored with Newt Gingrich.[ In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. In 1984, Battley told the Washington Post that the divorce was a "complete surprise" to her. According to Battley, in September 1980, Gingrich and their children visited her while she was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, and Gingrich wanted to discuss the terms of their divorce. Gingrich has disputed that account. In 2011, their daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, said that it was her mother who requested the divorce, that it happened prior to the hospital stay, and that Gingrich's visit was for the purpose of bringing the couple's children to see their mother, not to discuss the divorce.
According to L.H. Carter, his campaign treasurer, Gingrich said of Battley: "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer." Gingrich has denied saying it. His supporters dismiss Carter as a disgruntled former aide who was miffed at not being asked to accompany Gingrich to Washington.
Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981. In the mid-1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior. They continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal, when Gingrich became a leader of the investigation of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged affairs. In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther. He and Callista currently live in McLean, Virginia. In a 2011 interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network Gingrich addressed his past infidelities by saying, "There's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."
A Southern Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, Bisek's faith, on March 29, 2009. He said "over the course of several years, I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace." The moment when he decided to officially become a Catholic was when he saw Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the United States in 2008: "Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded. The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years." Gingrich has stated that he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular. At a 2011 appearance in Columbus, Ohio, he said, "In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life."