Dr. Newton Leroy Gingrich (pronounced "Ging-gritch") (born June 17, 1943), is best-known as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives between 1995 and 1999.
He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Kathleen and Newton McPherson. His parents separated soon after Newt's birth, and her mother raised him by herself until she married Robert Gingrich, who adopted Newt.
Gingrich attended school at various military installations and graduated from Baker High School, Columbus, Georgia, in 1961. He received a bachelor's degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1965. He received his master's degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1968 and his PhD from the same university in 1971. He taught at West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia, from 1970 to 1978.
Gingrich was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives in November 1978. He served ten terms in Congress. He was re-elected to the 106th Congress in November 1998 but did not take his seat. He served as minority whip from 1989-1994 and as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995-1998.
In 1994, Gingrich defined a Contract with America, a list of campaign promises signed by himself and other Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. The promises were designed to unite the various factions of the party and provide a contrast with Bill Clinton. Many credit that contract (as well as demographic trends) for the election successes of November 1994. After that election, Republicans took control of the House for the first time since 1954. For the next four years, the Congress under Gingrich's leadership took aim at the embattled president, investigating various scandals and calling for impeachment.
Gingrich became an icon in the Republican party and was respected, if not beloved, by elements of U.S. conservatism. However, his opponents, even those within the Republican party, characterized him as mean-spirited.
Ironically, Gingrich himself faced ethics investigations that ended in him admitting wrongdoing. In January of 1997, Gingrich was fined $300,000 by the a Congressional ethics committee for using tax-exempt foundations for political purposes, which was a violation of House rules.
After the 1998 election campaign, in which the Republicans expected big gains but ultimately showed the poorest results in 34 years of any party not in control of the White House, Gingrich resigned from the speakership and from his seat in November 1998.
Gingrich has remained involved in national politics and public policy debate.
He is a senior fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, focusing on health care (he has founded the Center for Health Transformation), information technology, the military, and politics. He is occasionally a guest or panel member on Inside-the-Beltway news shows. Gingrich has publicly questioned the decisions and motivations for some of the policies, particularly foreign policies, of the Bush Administration. Specifically, he has challenged policy of the State Department, calling for a transformation of the department due to numerous diplomatic failures. He has also called the State Department "ineffective and incoherent" in its resolve to persuade members of the UN Security Council for a second resolution for military action against Iraq.
In early December 2003, Gingrinch blasted the Bush Administration's policies toward Iraq, stating that the U.S. had "gone off the cliff in Iraq" and that "Americans can't win in Iraq. Only Iraqis can win in Iraq."