He's back! Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is seeking a return to public office after over a decade off the ballot, though he's never totally left the public stage. He was once the GOP's great leader following his party's congressional election victory in 1994, but he resigned in disappointment four years later. And over the last few years, as he's flirted with a run for the White House, he's charted a stunning political course on his way back into the limelight.
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Gingrich was first elected to the House way back in 1978, and rose through the Republican ranks to become Minority Whip in 1988. In 1994, with Minority Leader Bob Michel retiring, Gingrich spearheaded an ambitious effort to win the House after 40 years of Democratic dominance, with the "Contract With America" platform tapping into public dissatisfaction with President Bill Clinton, and he rode the wave straight to the Speaker's gavel. After a tumultuous two terms that included two government shutdowns and the impeachment of Bill Clinton over a sex scandal -- but also significant accomplishments such as welfare reform and spending compromises that helped lead to a balanced budget -- Gingrich resigned from both the Speakership and the House itself, as a result of GOP dissatisfaction with Dem gains in the 1998 cycle.
In the years between his 1998 departure and the 2008 cycle, Gingrich sought to market himself as a policy-minded technocrat. He considered a run for president in the last cycle, but ultimately decided not to do so and instead kept with his American Solutions organization.
And as the Wall Street Journal reported, Gingrich's American Solutions political organization has had a stunning fundraising record, dwarfing all the other 2012 GOPers combined.
Even with flush campaign coffers, Gingrich's political record provides much ammunition for his opponents to grab hold of, but it is often said that his personal past is among his greatest liabilities. In 2000, Gingrich married former staffer Callista Sibek, who he had been having a relationship with since 1993, while he was still married to his second wife. (Indeed, Gingrich had pursued the impeachment of Bill Clinton, at the same time as he was secretly having an extra-marital relationship himself.) Recently, Newt has credited Callista for his conversion to Catholicism.
As the nation moved into the age of Obama, Gingrich truly sharpened his rhetorical sword. In this milieu of progressive change, the former two-term Speaker and three-time husband emerged as...a champion of Christian values against the forces of what he often called "secular socialism."