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Profile: Newt Gingrich

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With an announcement on Twitter and a video on YouTube, the former speaker of the House and congressman from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, has declared his candidacy to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. In the video he told viewers, “There’s a much better American future ahead with more jobs, more prosperity, a better health system, longer lives, greater independent living and a country that is decentralized under the 10th Amendment with power once again back with the American people and away from the Washington bureaucracy.”

In a not-so-veiled shot at the Obama administration and the Democratic party he said: “there are some people who don’t mind if America becomes a wreck as long as they dominate the wreckage.” The author and historian, 67, is most famed for regularly locking horns with then President Bill Clinton and engineering the 1994 Contract with America which gave the Republican party control of the House for the first time in 40 years. However, just 4 years later, after a disastrous performance by the GOP in the mid-term elections, Gingrich resigned and has been working as a campaigner, as well as author, ever since. With his long career in Washington politics he has developed strong ties with several big GOP donors and party operatives; so a strong well structured and well-funded campaign is expected.

Gingrich does, however, face questions about his family values and fidelity as he is already on his third wife, Callista, who was a congressional aide with whom he had an affair while still married to his second wife. He blamed his aberration on his love of country and the stresses of congress. He has also recently converted to Catholicism and now has to work hard to win the religious and protestant, socially conservative base. To do so he has associated himself with a rather controversial pastor, the rather evangelical John Hagee who said on radio in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that New Orleans suffered the “judgement of God” due to its “level of sin.” (No doubt a dig at the perceived culture around Bourbon Street in New Orleans although Hagee later retracted his words.)

Gingrich’s campaign has however gotten off to a bit of a rocky start with the right of the party due to his approach to the possible reformation of Medicare. In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, he labeled a GOP plan to overhaul the long-standing legislation as “right-wing extremism.” The comments were seen as a rebuke to the architect of the plan, the party’s conservative rising star, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. A lot of the criticism leveled at Gingrich has come from the socially conservative members of the GOP embraced by the Tea Party. South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley commented: “Here you’ve got Rep. Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees.” Haley’s endorsement is very much sought after as she governs the state that holds the primary season’s third contest.

Later, Gingrich mentioned that he felt somewhat blindsided by Meet the Press presenter David Gregory’s line of questioning despite appearing on the show 35 times. He has also drawn fire for his position on Obama’s health care legislation as he didn’t completely denounce it initially, which is something widely expected of GOP members since not a single Republican in either House or Senate voted in favour of the bill. Regarding the individual mandate to take out health insurance, whether government or private, a key tenet of Obamacare and opposed by Republicans he said: “I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay — help pay for health care.” He later tried backtracking on this by stating that he flatly opposed the law and backed it up signing a pledge to repeal it.

On top of this, Gin­grich then encountered the latest hiccup regarding his personal life. A report by Politico stated that he previously owed approximately $500,000 to iconic jewelry store Tiffany and Co. The accounts were apparently filed by his latest wife Callista and whenever pressed for details about them Gingrich has continually declined to comment.

As it stands, Gingrich’s support amongst GOP voters has been somewhat weak. In recently published polling; CNN showed only 10 percent support amongst GOP voters and 5 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. This Republican former heavyweight may not wield the power he once did just over a decade ago but his access to the party’s largest financial backers is unmatched and the envy of his competitors, except possibly Mitt Romney, who has of course the many millions in his pockets he could dig into should his fundraising river dry up.

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About George Sandeman

  • John Lake

    Gingrich is more known for his fiery personality than for his law making savvy. His most noteworthy moment came as the Republicans worked hard and long to remove then President Bill Clinton from office, not owing to political or economic errors, but rather in light of the discovery of an extra-marital affair President Clinton had while in office. In fact the affair was carried on in the oval office, after hours, and on weekends and holidays. Clinton achieved notoriety with the revelation of the “cigar” anecdote. Utilizing such cigar in the sexual escapade was something Gingrich could hardly overlook.
    It is important that the Republicans are having difficulty finding someone to seize the gauntlet and head for the White House in 2012. Contenders fall as quickly as they rise. The Presidency of the United States is an important office, and one would expect to find some viable candidates in the once formidable “Grand Old Party”.

  • The operating word in GOP is “old.” As for some viable candidates in the once formidable “Grand Old Party”, they will present themselves by 2016. Until and unless Condoleezza Rice runs, 2012 is a Republican loser.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Actually, I think there is one viable GOP candidate – Jon Huntsman, the guy who has some moderate (by GOP standards) positions, and who speaks fluent Chinese. IMO he is the only GOP candidate who stand a chance…

    …which is why I strongly support a Palin/Gingrich ticket for the 2012 Republican ticket!

  • Clavos

    So let’s see: The GOP doesn’t stand a chance, and Obie’s already DOA.

    Who’s gonnna be our next prez?

    Here’s an idea: Obie should give all those illegal Messicans their citizenship by executive order, with the proviso they have to vote Dem in 2012…oh, wait they’re already sold on that…Well, hell, the GOP could run my cat in that case.

  • Leroy

    4-clavos: I guess ‘Obie’ is Obama. Actually, he’s the frontrunner and that’s why it’s hard to find a republican willing to waste time running against him.

  • Clavos

    I’ll have some of what yer smokin’ Leroy. Seems like pretty good stuff…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    So…if Obie’s “DOA” – if it is Obama you’re talking about – why is it that the Republican elite are searching for a non-nutty candidate? Why are they approaching Jeb Bush et al?

    But I’m so looking forward to an election with Bachmann or Palin or Gingrich on the ticket! Too bad we can’t have Huckabee or Trump on there….

  • Baronius

    Why are the Republicans scrambling to find a candidate? Because neither party has a bench. Remember 2008? Both parties nominated an inexperienced child and a minor-league has-been.

    Clinton and W didn’t build up a team of promising young stars. Smarter administration have 3-4 potential presidents in the Cabinet, and help good people up the ladder in state and local races. They didn’t. I think it’s a boomer thing, insisting on being the only starlet on the screen.

    You could argue that President Obama made an effort in this direction, but Richardson and Daschle didn’t make the cut and Sebelius and Napolitano aren’t impressing anyone. You could also argue that the Republicans are finally developing a new generation of leaders, but there’s always that thing about chickens and hatching.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    FYI, Baronius, while ‘nobody knew’ Obama, the Democratic cognoscenti did know about him, thanks to an electrifying speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he first displayed for the masses his power as a great orator. They knew they had something special.

    Don’t get me wrong – I strongly supported Hillary, and I was an alternate state delegate for her. Why? It’s as I told the other Dems at the time – I knew even then that Obama was certainly going to be the future of the Democratic party…but he wasn’t ready yet. Let him serve as VP first, so that he can become ready and the nation ready for him…and, I said, I was greedy – if we’d had Hillary in there first, we’d easily have had sixteen years of Democratic administration. I feel I was right then, and I still think I was right – we should have elected Hillary first, because Obama – for all his considerable political ability – wasn’t ready, and the country wasn’t ready for him.

    coulda, woulda, shoulda. That’s why y’all stand a chance in the 2016 election…but not the 2012 election, and most of you know it in your guts.

  • Clavos

    thanks to an electrifying speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he first displayed for the masses his power as a great orator. They knew they had something special.

    As we’ve seen, being a “great orator” is not enough qualification for the Oval Office.

    …we should have elected Hillary first, because Obama – for all his considerable political ability – wasn’t ready…

    Quoted for Truth. He still isn’t.

    …y’all stand a chance in the 2016 election…but not the 2012 election…

    Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose on that evaluation.

  • after the candidates have been picked, I’ll be in touch for a wager, Clavos

  • Clavos

    Don’t bother, EB. As far as I’m concerned, gambling is a fool’s pastime; I don’t bet on anything, play card games for money or buy lottery tickets. I’ve never even been to Vegas, probably never will go.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Like you, I do not gamble at all. But while being a great orator is not enough to perform as president – see Ronald Reagan and his disastrous economic policies – it IS a huge plus in getting one elected to the office. And you know that.