Newt Gingrich is one man who has managed to remain in the American public consciousness for multiple decades. As a professor of history and geography at the University of West Georgia back in the ‘70s, he contested and won elections to the United States House of Representatives in November 1978; becoming the first Republican in the history of Georgia’s 6th congressional district to do so. 17 years down the line, Gingrich once more made history as the first Republican to emerge as speaker of the House of Representatives in over two decades. He, however, resigned in 1999 after twenty years in the legislature.
Although out of the legislature, Gingrich has continued to contribute to public policy debates on issues such as health as well as family values. The latter has fetched him many controversies as many call out the hypocrisies of his personal life which is mired in two divorces, countless accusations of cheating as well as a petty and ugly battle over child and spouse maintenance with the mother of his only two children.
Newt Gingrich’s Journey from College Professor to Congressman
Professionally, Gingrich got his start as an assistant professor with the history department of West Georgia College, in 1970. Four years later, he moved to the geography department where he helped establish an interdisciplinary environmental studies program. This feat placed him on the university’s tenure track. He, however, left his work in college in 1978 when he was elected to Congress.
As Congressman, Gingrich co-founded the Military Reform Caucus (MRC) and the Congressional Aviation and Space Caucus. He also supported a proposal to ban loans from the International Monetary Fund to Communist countries and endorsed a bill to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. In 1983, Gingrich founded the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), a group that originally included young conservative House Republicans such as Robert Smith Walker, Judd Gregg, Dan Coats, and Connie Mack III. The group met weekly to share and develop ideas.
Emergence as First Republican Speaker in Over Two Decades and Eventual Downfall
In the run-up to the November 1994 elections, Republicans clinched 54 seats and took the reins of the House for the first time since 1954. In a stroke of fate, House Minority Leader, Bob Michel of Illinois, had chosen not to run for re-election. This made Gingrich the highest-ranking Republican returning to Congress that year and he, therefore, emerged speaker. Such a feat, the first Republican to be the speaker in two decades, made Time Magazine name him their 1995 “Man of the Year”.
As Speaker of the House, Gingrich made efforts to infuse Christian conservative values into the Republican Party. He also played a pivotal role during the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal and went all out in a bid to impeach Clinton. This did not sit well with American voters who felt that he had ignored his duties and so, they turned away from the GOP in the 1998 elections. This resulted in a disturbingly-crushing defeat for the party and members were forced to rebel against their speaker-overlord, who happened to retain his seat by a slight margin.
The whole controversy was further complicated by revelations of an extramarital affair Gingrich had with a congressional employee 23 years his junior. This ultimately led to his resignation from the house altogether in January of 1999.
The Great Political Comeback That Never Was
Newt Gingrich began plotting his run for the American presidency as early as 2008. He however declined from throwing his hat into the ring for the next four years and then declared his intention to run for the Republican ticket in March 2011. Newt’s campaign witnessed a rude shock in its early days as a round of senior campaign aides resigned en mass just three months after his announcement. This upheaval led to speculations that he would call off his campaign but he stuck in there.
Buoyed by a series of sexual abuse allegations against then top-contender, Herman Cain, Gingrich emerged as a serious threat. He then went on to bolster his campaign with fiery rhetoric in several televised debates. This served as a needed shot in the arm for his campaign and he went on to emerge as a leading candidate in the national polls. He also tallied some victory across states such as South Carolina and Georgia but finished third and second in a host of other states.
Gingrich made sensational campaign promises such as crashing the cost of petrol to $2.50 per gallon but this failed to impress voters as they knew such was largely unrealistic. The voters also got fed up with his attacks on the media and his competitor, Mitt Romney, and they increasingly deserted his bid. This situation got worse over time and with an increasing debt profile to his name, about $4 million, he took the decision of dropping his bid entirely in April 2012. He then endorsed his former bitter rival, Mitt Romney, all in a bid to win it for the GOP.
In hindsight, it was good that Gingrich jettisoned his presidential ambitions as a host of controversies that emerged after his dropping out would have killed his bid. They include the debts he racked up from a luxurious lifestyle including charted jets as well as expensive shopping trips to Tiffany & Co. There were also accusations of collecting about $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, a government-sponsored secondary mortgage firm whose lending practices led to the housing crisis.
Newt Has Founded a Health Care Think-Tank, Consulting Business, and Communications Firm Collectively Known As Newt Inc.
Following his failed presidential bid, Newt Gingrich has gone back to continue the profitable enterprises that he started after quitting congress and one of them is Newt Inc. Under the umbrella of the corporation, the former House Speaker does public speeches as well as book signings and charges as much as $60,000 for speech. By his own estimate, he does about 50-80 speeches a year thus making for about $3 million to $4.8 million per annum.
Whilst doing the speech circuit, Gingrich has also become a consultant and has lent his expertise to several companies including the likes of PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America). He also has his own health think tank known as the Centre for Health Transformation.
The center has attracted dozens of corporations and industry groups who pay from about $20,000 to $200,000 for membership. Newt helps them with advice on their business models and also loans his celebrity appeal to their events and causes. It is estimated that the Centre for Health Transformation had about 300 clients and generated about $55 million in its first decade of existence.
He is a Member of Several Think Tanks and Policy Groups including The Hoover Institution
More than just earning a quick buck, Newt Gingrich is one fellow who has always had the grand ambition of being a great citizen, a transformational figure, and even a historic one. He is therefore continuously looking for avenues through which to contribute to the national dialogue and one of them is through shaping public policies.
The former college professor has served as a member of several committees including a US Taskforce for the UN (aimed at strengthening the global body), Council on Foreign Relations, and Project on National Security Reform. Project on National Security Reform is a bipartisan private-public partnership sponsored by the Belfer Center for the study of the presidency. The project was aimed at suggesting changes for the national security system, both homeland, and the international system, and it came up with three sets of reforms including executive orders, a new national security act, and amendments to House and Senate rules.
Gingrich has also served as a member of several think tanks including The Hoover Institution which is regarded as the 10th most influential think tank in the world.
The Former House Speaker is a Regular Contributor on Fox Where Some of his Remarks has attracted Controversy.
Television is always guaranteed to keep one in the public consciousness and Newt Gingrich is well aware of this fact. He has therefore sustained his fame by working as a contributor for major news networks such as Fox and CNN. The Pennsylvania native initially started his career with Fox in the mid-2000s and spent several years with them during which he appeared as a guest/contributor on many of their shows. He was also known to host some specials for the network.
In September 2013, Newt Gingrich joined CNN and started hosting their political debate show known as Crossfire. This gig lasted for several months before the show was canceled. He then remained at CNN as a commentator until 2015 when he re-joined Fox. Gingrich remains at Fox to date and has courted controversy with some of his remarks. In 2012, he was criticized for saying that one can only make sense of then-president Obama’s actions if they can understand Kenyan anti-colonial behavior. He also raised eyebrows in 2011 for criticizing Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and then criticizing him just two weeks later after the then-president launched one.
Aside from his media appearances, Newt Gingrich also keeps busy with writing. The former congressman is a prolific author with about 20 books to his name. Some of the most recent ones are Understanding Trump (2017), The American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time (2020), and Trump Vs China: Facing America’s Greatest Threat (2017).
Gingrich Allegedly Divorced His First Wife Because She Wasn’t Young or Pretty Enough To Be the First Lady
Newt Gingrich has been married three times and his first marriage was to his high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley. As the story goes, Newt became enamored with Battley during his high school days, and despite the fact that there was a 7-year-age gap between them, he made his intentions known during his freshman of college in 1961. She accepted and they began a relationship in earnest. They tied the knot in June 1962 and went on to welcome two daughters in the course of the next eight years.
To the public, Newt gave off the aura of the devoted family man and this helped him with his political ambitions. However, in secret, it was a different ball game altogether. The congressman allegedly cheated on his wife several times and continued this attitude up until 1974 when he began an affair with one of his aides named Marianne Ginther. He grew so close to Marianne that he decided to divorce his wife for her; allegedly telling one of his former college professor colleagues that Jackie was not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the president. He also allegedly alluded to the fact that Jackie had cancer and could die.
Newt has denied these allegations. He has also stated that it was Jackie and not he that filed for divorce. Recent reports have indicated though that he filed for divorce in 1980 and Jackie told the courts that she wanted to stay married even though she had ample grounds for separation. It has also emerged that Gingrich starved his wife and children of financial support. According to reports, he refused to provide for their normal expenses such as drugs, water, gas, electricity, telephone service, and garbage and sewage disposal.
This resulted in Jackie and the kids going without light, food, water, heat in their Virginia home. It was the first Baptist church that organized a food drive to help them out. Jackie later filed a complaint in court and Newt agreed to pay about $1,650 in alimony on the basis that she would not ask for increased support if his income were to increase in the future.
His Second Marriage was to Former Mistress, Marianne Ginther
As earlier stated, Newt Gingrich began an affair with one of his aides named Marianne Ginther in 1974. This affair lasted for nearly six years during which he fell deeper in love with the lady. He believed that Marianne had the personality of a first lady and would prove advantageous as a political asset. An added incentive for dating her was the fact that his family approved of her. Gingrich’s parents and relatives had never forgiven him for marrying a woman seven years older and when he brought the much younger Marianne, they quickly gave their stamp of approval.
Gingrich and Marianne tied the knot in 1981. Their marriage officially lasted for about 18 years and they formally divorced in 1999. Marianne would later reveal in 2012 that being married to a public personality was difficult. She has also accused her ex of carrying out affairs in their own matrimonial home and asking her for an open marriage; whilst preaching about the value of family and the sanctity of marriage on the campaign trail.
Marianne also alleged that Newt asked her for a divorce while fully aware of the fact that she was suffering from MS and that the stress would complicate her situation. It is revelations like these and much more that dealt a blow to the man’s 2012 presidential ambition.
Third Wife, Callista Bisek, is the U.S. Ambassador to The Vatican
The former house speaker is presently married to businesswoman, author, documentary producer, and diplomat, Callista Bisek. Bisek has authored several children’s books including Sweet Land of Liberty And Land Of The Pilgrims’ Pride. She now serves as the American ambassador to the Holy See after being appointed to that position by President Donald Trump in December 2017.
Newt first got to know Callista while she was working as a congressional staffer in 1993. They became an affair that same year and this lasted for about six years. Following his official divorce from second wife, Marianne, in 1999, they tied the knot in August 2000. The couple remains together to date and Callista has helped her husband with his political ambitions; accompanying him to rallies, introducing him during campaign events, and also lobbying women’s groups for him.
The couple also co-own a production company, Gingrich Productions, which produces documentaries on political issues such as religion, energy, the threat of radical Islamism, and American exceptionalism. Newt and Callista make their home in McLean Virginia and he has converted to her catholic faith. He also made a pledge of personal fidelity to her in December 2011. This was at the behest of an Iowa social conservative group known as Marriage Vow.
Newt Gingrich’s Daughters Have Staunchly Defended Him Even Against Their Own Mother
Newt Gingrich has two daughters namely Kathy Gingrich Lubbers and Jackie Gingrich Cushman.
Jackie Gingrich Cushman
Jackie is an author, public speaker, political commentator, and conservative analyst. She holds a degree from Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. She also has an MBA from Georgia State University and is a chartered financial analyst. Jackie has penned several books including The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches That Every American Should Own (2010). She has also appeared on TV shows such as Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Sean Hannity Show.
Jackie has helped out with non-profit organizations such as The Learning Makes a Difference Foundation. She and her father has also co-authored numerous articles including 5 Principles for A Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours. Jackie is married to Atlanta native, James Edward Cushman Jr., and they have two children together. They make their home in Atlanta.
Kathy Gingrich Lubbers
On the other hand, Kathy is an entrepreneur, business owner as well as managing partner of several LLCs. She previously served as a senior adviser for her father during his failed presidential bid. During that time, she promoted his ambitions on CNN shows such as Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan as well as Fox shows such as Fox and Friends and the Sean Hannity show.
Kathy also served as the president and CEO of Gingrich Communications during which she handled all of her father’s communication strategies and helped garner him much followership on social media. Kathy now serves as a coach and consultant for The Rubi Ho Group, an organization that is dedicated to transforming leaders and teams with strategic, organizational, and agile leadership. She is married to Paul Lubbers.
Kathy and her sister have a habit of defending their father. When asked about the divorce allegations relating to their parent’s marriage, they insisted that it was their mother that asked for a divorce. They have also described Marianne’s allegation that their father wanted an open marriage as false.