Sunday 23 January 2011

Newt Gingrich

Press reports this weekend say that former House of Representatives Speaker, Newt Gingrich may be moving closer to running for the presidency in 2012. Whatever you may think of him - and he provokes strong feelings either way - he is an interesting character.

His intial career was as a History Professor - but was keen to be active in politics. He unsuccessfully ran for the House of Representatives twice, before being elected in November 1978. He founded the Conservative Opportunity Society in 1983 - this brought together a number of (then) young, conservative Republican congressmen to attack the majority Democrats in the House. Their tactics were aggressive, controversial - and very effective. I have to admit that I do not share his ideology, but cannot help admire his tactical genius at that time. He has highlighted the importance of the language used.

He rose quickly to leadership of the House Republicans (a fascinating story in itself) - and led them to victory in 1994. It was the first time that the Republicans took the House in forty years. As Speaker he was the leading spokesman for opposition to President Clinton.

His skills in "bomb throwing" were less useful whilst Speaker - and he made a number of strategic mistakes which helped Clinton retain the presidency in 1996 - and led to Gingrich's own fall in 1998.

The editor of Time Magazine, James Gaines, wrote "For better or worse, he has changed the language and substance of American politics perhaps like no other politician in recent history,"

He continues to be controversial - it will certainly be interesting if he does run!