Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign has suffered a setback on this Christmas weekend. Gingrich failed to get enough signatures to be on the ballot in Virginia, calling into question his organizational ability to sustain a long campaign.
Any discussion of Newt Gingrich's journey to Catholicism begins with his wife.
"I have always been a very spiritual person," Callista Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network this year. "I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us."
Newt Gingrich, shown with his wife, Callista Gingrich, attends a pre-debate rally sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition earlier this year in Florida. The thrice-married former House speaker, who cheated on his first two wives and was punished by the House for ethical violations, is now outperforming family man Mitt Romney among Iowa's evangelicals.
One of the puzzles of the Republican presidential campaign is Newt Gingrich's appeal to religious conservatives. The irony is that Gingrich, a Catholic convert who has had three marriages, is outperforming Romney, a lifelong Mormon and family man. In fact, less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, the former speaker of the House has three times the support of evangelicals in that state that Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, does.
Newt Gingrich is shown teaching a class at West Georgia College (now known as the University of West Georgia) in the 1970s. As a politician, he has long stressed his background as a scholar.
Credit Courtesy of Gingrich Productions
Last in a series
Newt Gingrich was in his 20s when he was hired at West Georgia College as a history professor. He had just returned from Belgium, where he was doing research for his doctoral dissertation.
"He was very much a person of intellect," says Mel Steeley, who taught history at the college for four decades and helped bring Gingrich to the school in 1970. "He would wander across campus and didn't notice people. He'd have something in his mind, always be thinking about something. When he first came, you kind of wondered if he was a student or a professor."