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The Long March of Newt Gingrich
Kathleen Gingrich
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Q: There was the story about how he somehow ended up in Harrisburg at the zoo.

K. Gingrich: He was to go to the library. He was ten years old. And instead of going there, he went to City Hall. And he had this list with him of the animals, what they ate, what they cost, everything you'd want to know about that animal. And apparently he stayed quite awhile and they sent him over to Paul Walker, who ran the biggest newspaper in Harrisburg. He's dead now. But he saw the potential in Newtie. And Newtie said, 'Would you run this in the paper for me?' And Paul looked at him and he said, 'Yes, I can if you write an article about it.' And Newtie said, 'Well, I don't have a typewriter.' And Paul said, 'There's one over there.' And it was one of these old relic typewriters. And Newtie wrote the article and he and Paul stayed friends till Paul died. He never visited and didn't go see Paul.

Q: Ten years old. Help me to understand the circumstance where a ten year-old child would stand up to City Hall.

K. Gingrich: I don't know. I really don't know. They sent him home in a state car, I remember that. And with a big, thick law book. I don't know whatever happened to that.

Q: So you had this boy who wanders off and goes to City Hall. Do you remember breaking the news to the Colonel, to Bob, that Newt's been ...

K. Gingrich: Yes and he wrote back, 'Keep that kid out of the paper.' [Laughs] Keep the kid out of the paper. That is easy to say.

Q: One of the things that you can't help but observe if you read about or follow Newt is the sound sense of his own destiny, his own place in history. He is a guy who is certain that he is going to have effects. And apparently felt that way for a long time. Who influenced him in that way? Who made him feel really special?

K. Gingrich: Well, I'd like to say 'me,' but he was special. I mean, things that he did around the house. At Fort Riley, I remember I would wash dishes and he'd dry and we'd talk. And he'd talk all around the world. And then he informed me, his mother, of all these things because he'd read. He read constantly.

Q: The Verdun trip. Does it strike you that that could actually have been a life changing moment --or did it seem so at the time?

K. Ginigrich: No, no, I think it was a big thing for him. That's when he realized that politics could do a lot without a war. That's the horrible, horrible thing. This great big, enormous light building. There were two lawyers and someone had scratched the black paint off the window, so that you could look in. And what did you see? Bones. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bones. And that's where they were found among the battlefield and they didn't know what to do with them so they put them there.

Q: Would you like to see him run for President?

K. Gingrich: No. I think he should stick it out as speaker for a while. He wanted that so badly and now he got it. Now he should stay there. There's things to learn, I'm sure. And if he wants to run the next time, I'll be all for it. Cause he'll be fifty-three, I think. I'm not so good at math. He's plenty young.

Q: In high school, he was the oldest son, your only son -- did he have girlfriends?

K. Gingrich: I would say more that he had friends. He tutored. He tutored one of the loveliest girls I've ever seen. She looked like Ava Gardner. But normally he didn't. In fact, he didn't learn to drive for quite awhile because while someone else drove he could read his books. He's a constant reader. Say, a book a week even now with all that he has to do, he gets to it.

Q: And a good student too, I gather.

K. Gingrich: Not especially. Um um. That's what everyone thinks, he had to be an "A" student. He liked tests. Take a test anytime. But he had a A/B and B average. He was on the National Honor List Society. He was in that. And Time magazine had some contest. He won that. There was another one that they had and he won that. But he would never tell us until he would come home and say, 'I won this for Time' or 'I did something for Time.' He always kept it to himself.

Q: There's that famous period in adolescents' lives when they feel rebellious. I wonder how Newt showed his rebellion.

K. Gingrich: I don't remember that he ever rebelled against anything. He was just a good kid. Not that he didn't have trouble. There was one time in France, maybe his 16th birthday, and he wanted to have a party so we said, 'Sure.' Well, the rug was green and this gang came. We went to bed. I had to drive Bob in to work the next morning and coming down the steps he looked over and he says, 'God!' You couldn't see that green rug at all with all the puddles from them running in and out and through the windows and all that. And he said, 'You tell him to have that room back in order by the time I come home.' So I had to run some of the kids home. And Newtie got it clean.


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