Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Newt Ascendant: Your Guide to Gingrich
Monday, December 05, 2011
When Newt Gingrich first formed his presidential exploratory committee back in March of 2011, we wondered if this was the "Return of the Mack." Once he jumped into the race, his staff jumped ship, his campaign sank into debt, and we stopped wondering. However, the unlikely events of the last month—Perry's "Oops," the Cain Train's fantastic derailing, Romney's continued "meh"—have us, and the electorate, taking a second look. This is your guide to Gingrich, complete with some things you might not know about the latest Republican hopeful to make a grab for the Not-Mitt-Romney mantle.
Newt's would-be First Lady once bowled a 200 at eight in the morning—while wearing a pencil skirt.
Today, she runs Gingrich Productions, making documentaries in conjunction with Citizens United, the nonprofit group that drew national attention in a Supreme Court case last year. While Citizens United does technical production, Mrs. Gingrich, a former music major, is especially hands-on with the musical scores. [via the New York Times, who profiled Callista Gingrich on Monday]
Newt thinks America is in danger—and has since at least 1980.
1980 On the House floor, Gingrich states, "The reality is that this country is in greater danger than at any time since 1939."
1985 Gingrich calls Reagan's upcoming meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev ''the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.''
1987 Gingrich takes to the House floor to decry…pretty much everything about the Democratic-run House: "After the first five months of this Congress, I must report to my fellow citizens that this 100th Congress may be the most irresponsible, destructive, corrupt, and unrepresentative Congress of the modern era... In future weeks, I will make a series of speeches outlining the threats of corruption, of communism, and of the left-wing machine which runs the House."
1989 "These people are sick," he says of congressional Democrats. "They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending." He also warns that unless the Democrats are stopped, "we may literally see our freedom decay and decline."
1994 He sums up his political philosophy: "People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz. I see evil all around me every day."
1996 Gingrich applies [an] analogy to President Clinton's policies in the Middle East, in a speech to the Center for Security Policy: "The democracies are in a greater danger than they have been at any time since [British Prime Minister] Stanley Baldwin lied to the English people about the Luftwaffe and Hitler's Germany."
2010 Gingrich warns that Obama's agenda "would mean the end of America as it has been for the last 400 years." [via Mother Jones, who gives Newt the 'in his own words' treatment]
Gingrich raised as much money in 2010 as Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney—combined.
As the summer rolled on, a revivified Gingrich sat atop the early polls of Republican presidential contenders, leading the field in California, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas and polling strongly in Illinois and Pennsylvania. He is in constant motion, traveling all over the country attending rallies and meetings. He writes best sellers, makes movies, appears regularly on Fox News. [via Esquire, which calls Gingrich 'The Indispensable Republican]
Gingrich once recommended that people making more than $75,000 a year be required to purchase health insurace—à la Obamacare.
Two years later, he was telling Sean Hannity at Fox News that health insurance mandates were unconstitutional. Both Gingrich and Romney need to better explain their history on health care. [MoJo again, which details the GOP star's history of flip-flops]
Gingrich's lowest approval rating while Speaker of the House was 27 percent—and his highest was 39.
Views of Gingrich are more negative among the electorate as a whole. The poll found just 23 percent of registered voters nationwide viewed him positively, and more—37 percent—had an unfavorable opinion of him. About four in 10 did not offer an opinion. [via CBS HotSheet]
He'll Really Win the Future. (And called dibs on that phrase)