|January 4, 1995 – January 3, 1999|
|Preceded by||Tom Foley|
|Suceeded by||Dennis Hastert|
|January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1999|
|Born||June 17, 1943
|Alma Mater||Emory University
|Spouse||Jackie Battley (1962-1981)
Marianne Ginther (1981-2000) Callista Bisek (2000-current)
|Birth Name||Newton Leroy McPherson|
Newton "Newt" Leroy Gingrich (born Newton Leroy McPherson on June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author, who served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Time magazine selected him as the Person of the Year for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the House, ending 40 years of Democratic Party majorities in that body. During his tenure as Speaker he represented the public face of the Republican opposition to Bill Clinton.
A college history professor, political leader, and author, Gingrich twice ran unsuccessfully for the House before winning a seat in November 1978. He was re-elected 10 times, and his activism as a member of the House's Republican minority eventually enabled him to succeed Dick Cheney as House Minority Whip in 1989. As a co-author of the 1994 Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of the Republican Party's dramatic success in the 1994 Congressional elections and subsequently was elected Speaker. Gingrich's leadership in Congress was marked by opposition to many of the policies of the Clinton Administration. Shortly after the 1998 elections, where Republicans lost 5 seats in the House, Gingrich announced his resignation from his House seat and as Speaker.
After resigning his seat, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant and continues to write works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction. Recently he founded the think tank American Solutions.
Carrer in the House of RepresentativesEdit
Contract with AmericaEdit
In the 1994 campaign season, in an effort to offer a concrete alternative to shifting Democratic policies and to unite distant wings of the Republican Party, Gingrich presented Dick Armey's and his Contract with America. The contract was signed by himself and other Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. The contract ranged from issues with broad popular support, including welfare reform, term limits, tougher crime laws, and a balanced budget law, to more specialized legislation such as restrictions on American military participation in U.N. missions. In the November 1994 elections, Republicans gained 54 seats and took control of the House for the first time since 1954.
Longtime House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois had not run for re-election in 1994, giving Gingrich, as the highest-ranking Republican returning to Congress, the inside track to becoming Speaker. Legislation proposed by the 104th United States Congress included term limits for Congressional Representatives, tax cuts, welfare reform, and a balanced budget amendment, as well as independent auditing of the finances of the House of Representatives and elimination of non-essential services such as the House barbershop and shoe-shine concessions. Congress fulfilled Gingrich's Contract promise to bring all ten of the Contract's issues to a vote within the first 100 days of the session, even though most legislation was held up in the Senate, vetoed by President Bill Clinton, or substantially altered in negotiations with Clinton. The Contract was criticized by the Sierra Club and by Mother Jones magazine as a Trojan horse tactic that, while deploying the rhetoric of reform, would have the real effect of allowing corporate polluters to profit at the expense of the environment it was referred to by opponents, including President Clinton, as the "Contract on America".
However, most parts of the Contract eventually became law in some fashion and represented a dramatic departure from the legislative goals and priorities of previous Congresses. See Implementation of the Contract for a detailed discussion of what was and was not enacted.
Government shutdown and the "snub"Edit
The momentum of the Republican Revolution stalled in late 1995 and early 1996 as a result of a budget fight between Congressional Republicans and President Bill Clinton. Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican majority wanted to slow the rate of increase in government spending including on Medicare, which Clinton flatly rejected. Without enough votes to override President Clinton's veto, Gingrich led the Republicans not to submit a revised budget, allowing the previously approved appropriations to expire on schedule, and causing parts of the Federal government to shut down for lack of funds. Gingrich inflicted a blow to his public image by seeming to suggest that the Republican hard-line stance over the budget was in part due to his feeling "snubbed" by the President the day before following his return from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel. Gingrich was lampooned in the media as a petulant figure with an inflated self-image, and at least one editorial cartoon depicted him as having thrown a temper tantrum. Democratic leaders took the opportunity to attack Gingrich's motives for the budget standoff, and some say the shutdown might have contributed to Clinton's re-election in November 1996.
Tom DeLay recounts the event in his book, No Retreat, No Surrender, that Gingrich "made the mistake of his life" and says the following of Gingrich's mis-step of the shutdown:
"He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One...Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost. What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child..The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same."
In her autobiography Living History, former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton shows a picture of Bill Clinton, Dole, and Gingrich laughing on the plane. Gingrich claims in his book Lessons Learned the Hard Way that the picture was taken on the plane going to Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in Israel rather than on the return trip from Israel, contradicting Clinton's claim.