Newt Gingrich Bio: In His Own Words
Newt Gingrich is an American author, politician, and historian. He is most well known for being the first Republican Speaker of the House in forty years, after Republicans gained a majority in House of Representatives in 1994. Known for a combative style and for clashing with the Clinton administration, he most recently ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He was one of the leading figure behind the ‘Republican Revolution of 1994’ and the ‘Contract with America.’
Newt Gingrich Bio: AGE, EARLY LIFE & EDUCATION:
Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 (now age 70) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Kathleen ‘Kit’ Daugherty and local mechanic Newton Searles McPherson. His parents, who were respectively sixteen and nineteen at the time, divorced three days after his birth. Recalling her marriage to ‘Big Newt’ for The Daily Beast, Gingrich’s mother Kit described his biological father as, “6 foot 3, and he could use a nine-pound sledgehammer with one hand,” and scared her to death. Newton McPherson would later die in a railroad accident when Gingrich was fourteen.
Daugherty remarried to Robert Gingrich, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, a year after her divorce from McPherson. Gingrich took his stepfather’s last name when Robert Gingrich gave up his custodial rights to his son, and became part of a new family that included his three younger half-sisters, Candace, Susan and Roberta. A bread-truck driver with the same pugnacity as McPherson, Gingrich’s stepfather was later drafted into military service, having been 4-F (i.e. Medical and/or psychological unfitness) for World War Two. In The Daily Beast’s interview with the entire Gingrich family, Robert Gingrich, pridefully recounted his parenting style, one that replaced physical affection with strict rules.
Young Newt Gingrich, by contrast, was short, chubby, and nearsighted. Solitary by nature, he often looked to books and movies for an inspirational version of himself, idealizing the bravado of John Wayne, a man of an ironically similar stature to his biological father. When he, at the age of fifteen, learned that Robert Gingrich was not his real father, but instead Scottish Newton ‘The Bruce’ McPherson, Gingrich had a real life role model. Initially proud to carry the name McPherson, Gingrich was disappointed when Kit Gingrich revealed to him that his father gave up custodial rights so that he could get of child-support payments. Meanwhile, Gingrich Senior’s military service constantly uprooted the family, from bases in Stuttgart, Germany, to Orleans, France. The family finally settled in back in the United States in 1960, residing at the Fort Benning army post in Georgia.
Once back in the United States, Gingrich enrolled in Baker High School. While at high school Gingrich planted the seeds of a political career when he ran his friend Jim Tilton’s campaign for student body president, and was successful. Completing his high school education by 1961, he then attended Emory University. As a sophomore, he founded the University’s Young Republicans Club. He graduated from Emory in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. A couple years prior, he married his high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battely.
Newt Gingrich Bio: ACADEMIA, TRANSITION TO POLITICS
Gingrich continued his education, receiving an M.A. (1968) and a Ph.D. (1971) in European History from Tulane University. His dissertation, for which he spent six months in Brussels, was on ‘Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945–1960.’ He concurrently developed a fascination with religion and joined the Baptist Church. Initially distanced from the political arena, Gingrich worked as an assistant professor of history and geography at West Georgia College (helping to establish the environmental studies program) in the early 70s before transitioning to a role as Southern Regional Director for Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign. A liberal candidate, his alliance with the presidential hopeful would later contradict his own conservative policies.
In 1974, Gingrich made his first bid for election to Congress, running against conservative Democrat John Flynt. Gingrich played left, emphasizing environmental reforms that appealed to more liberal Democrats, according to New Republic writer Ed Kilgore. Kilgore recounts meeting Gingrich at this time, calling him, “an overtly eccentric and extremely talkative history professor at West Georgia College who lived a sort of strange double life as a politician obsessed with getting elected to Congress.” Gingrich lost, narrowly. In 1978, he tried again, this time aligning himself with more conservative views, such as anti-tax and anti-welfare policies. Gingrich won a seat in the House as a conservative candidate, after being denied tenure at West Georgia that same year.
Newt Gingrich Bio: POLITICAL CAREER
Gingrich immediately went to work getting his voice heard amongst the other representatives. In 1981, he played a part in founding the Military Reform Caucus, a committee seeking change in how armed forces are trained, equipped, and deployed, and called for the expulsion of representative Dan Crane and Gerry Studds after they were accused of sexually harassing an underage congressional page in 1983. The same year, he founded the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), an organization designed to encourage and promote ideas and policies connected to conservative ideals. Modeled off Ronald Reagan, the group still continues today.
Gingrich made a name for himself as a whistle-blower of sorts against Democrat corruption. In 1988, he went after Democratic speaker Jim Wright, who allegedly used a book deal as a loophole against House ethics rules. Despite his own book in the works, Window of Opportunity, which relied on Republican supporter donations, Gingrich successfully forced Wright’s Resignation. His attacks against corruption continued after being elected in his first official role of power as House Minority Whip, fighting against relinquishing authority over the Panam Canal to the dictatorship and combating the house banking scandal, in which he was also culpable, having over-drafted on twenty-two checks.
Newt Gingrich Bio: ‘REPUBLICAN REVOLUTION,’ SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:
In September of 1994, Republican minority members proposed a list of a ten issues to be brought to a legislative vote in the first 100 days of the 104 Congress if they won the election. Dubbed the ‘Contract with America,’ the declaration included discussion of tax cuts, crime-reduction, and a balanced a government budget. The Republicans gained 54 seats in the November election, taking control of the House for the first time since 1954. Under the election of the Newt Gingrich as the 50th Speaker of the House in 1995, all but an amendment for term limits was passed, and Time Magazine fêted the new Speaker as ‘Man of the Year.’ While in his new position of power, Gingrich pushed for various reforms. Two such highly publicized acts were welfare reform and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, which required Congress to follow the same laws applicable to businesses and employees.
Gingrich’s role was not without scandal. Behind partial government shutdowns due to an inability to agree with President Bill Clinton on government budget plans, people began to connect the shutdowns with personal grievances. In a move similar to former speaker Wright, Gingrich has to return a 4.5 Million Dollar book advance after the House Ethics Committee questioned it. Of the eighty-four ethics charges brought against Gingrich, one was sustained, which involved claiming a tax-exempt status of a college course run for political purposes. He was reprimanded and forced to reimburse the $300,000 required for the investigation.
Gingrich resigned in January 1999. A year prior in 1998, Gingrich aggressively sought for the impeachment of Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and his aggressive tactics, made members of his party consider him a liability to their image.
Newt Gingrich Bio: POST-SPEAKER LIFE, PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Gingrich has remained active in politics. After serving as a political consultant for the Fox News Channel, he founded public policy foundation American Solutions For Winning the Future, in 2007. It later close in July 2011. Gingrich’s most public post-Speaker activity has been his run the Republican Presidential nomination in 2011. Using aggressive smear tactics against rival Mitt Romney combined with often eccentric proposals, like a colony on the Moon, Gingrich only succeeded in winning South Carolina and Georgia in the primaries. He dropped out soon after.
Gingrich has publicaly spoke of his supporting 2016 Presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump.
In addition to staying politically active, Gingrich has penned 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). The Washington Post also reported on Gingrich’s avid reading and reviewing of other work, to the point where he entered the top 500 reviewers on Amazon. The reported that he frequently avoids reading the work of Washington politicians.
With his current wife, Callista Bisek, he produces historical documentaries under the banner of Gingrich Productions; Bisek is the president of the organization. The pair sat down with uInterview in 2009 to talk about their latest DVD-documentary, Rediscovering Religion in America, Part 2. In their series, Gingrich emphasizes that American politics and society have ignored their roots, which are based in religion. ” It’s clear that our modern courts are a repudiation of all of American history. Historically, none of the founding fathers would have found it reasonable to drive the cross out of public life and as Calista pointed out, the very first thing English speaking colonies did in Virginia was erect a cross,” he asserted.
Newt Gingrich Bio: PERSONAL LIFE
Gingrich has been married three times; the first, Jackie Battley, he divorced in 1980, after beginning an affair with soon-to-be-second wife Marianne Ginther and after Battley had fought cancer. Gingrich married Ginther six months after finalizing his divorce. He and his second wife divorced in 2000, after beginning an affair with soon-to-be-third wife, House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years younger. He married Bisek four months after his second divorce.
Gingrich has two daughters with Battley, Kath Gingrich Lubbers and Jackie Gingrich Cushman.
His half-sister, Candace Gingrich, is an American LGBT rights activist with the Human Rights Campaign.
His Mother, Kit Daugherty, suffered from manic-depression during Gingrich’s childhood, a disease that is thought to be hereditary.
Gingrich has also expressed a fascination with animals, having written the introduction to America’s Best Zoos, as well as To Renew America, a book professing his love for dinosaurs. He is equally fascinated by space exploration and serves on the National Space Society Board of Governors.