Gingrich, Newt

Gingrich, Newt

(Newton Leroy Gingrich) (gĭng`grĭch), 1943–, U.S. congressman, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1995–98), b. Harrisburg, Pa., as Newton Leroy McPherson. A history professor, he was first elected as a Republican from Georgia in 1978 and became the leader of those House conservatives who favored using confrontational tactics to challenge the Democrats' long-time control of the House. He helped force Speaker Jim WrightWright, Jim
(James Claud Wright, Jr.), 1922–2015, U.S. congressman, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1987–89), b. Fort Worth, Tex. Following service in the U.S.
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's resignation in 1989 by questioning his financial dealings. That same year Gingrich became House minority whip.

In 1995, after large Republican gains in the 1994 elections (during which, touting a "Contract with America," he championed a balanced-budget amendment, limitations on welfare benefits, and term limits for members of Congress), he became the first Republican Speaker in 40 years. Often didactic, frequently combative, Gingrich led Republicans in attempts to enact conservative legislation, leading to conflicts with President Bill ClintonClinton, Bill
(William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his
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, most dramatically over the budget in 1995 and 1996.

The Republicans' program was only partially successful, and Clinton's confrontations with Gingrich and the House helped to restore some of the stature the president had lost after the 1994 elections. In the 1996 House elections, Republicans retained the majority and Gingrich his speakership, but he began to lose favor with the conservative bloc, who saw him as backing away from their principles. In early 1997, the House, after an investigation initiated in 1995, reprimanded Gingrich for campaign funding violations. In the 1998 congressional elections, Democrats made substantial gains in the midst of the Clinton impeachment (see Lewinsky scandalLewinsky scandal
, sensation that enveloped the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1998–99, leading to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and acquittal by the Senate.
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), and Gingrich abruptly resigned his speakership and House seat. He subsequently was associated with a Washington think tank and worked as a television-network political commentator, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Gingrich's books include To Renew America (1995), Winning the Future (2005), and Pearl Harbor (2007), an historical novel which he cowrote.


See J. E. Zelizer, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party (2020)

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Gingrich, (Newton Leroy) Newt

(1943–) U.S. representative, teacher, author; born in Harrisburg, Pa. Raised in a peripatetic military family, he received his Ph. D. from Tulane University (1971) and taught European history at West Georgia College. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Ga.; 1979), he became Speaker of the House in 1995 with the promise of enacting a new conservative agenda. Characterized as cocky and brusque, but also as intelligent and effective, he described himself as a "conservative futurist." Window of Opportunity: A Blueprint for the Future (1984), written with his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, and David Drake, a science fiction writer, elucidated his philosophy.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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Ascending now is Gingrich, Newt, Whose politics are absolute.