(Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s campaign has gained a new lease on life after stumbles by his conservative rivals, but he now faces scrutiny over his business ties. He led a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday.
Here are some facts about the former speaker of the House of Representatives.
* Gingrich was the main architect of the 1994 election victory that gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress for the first time in decades. As House of Representatives speaker, he forced a showdown with then President Bill Clinton over the federal budget that ended in a partial government shutdown. Gingrich also launched an unsuccessful impeachment drive against Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich’s Republicans suffered major losses in the 1998 midterm elections.
* Many of Gingrich’s senior campaign staff resigned in June. Some questioned his commitment to his campaign when he left for a two-week Aegean Sea cruise with his wife instead of touring early primary states. He was also criticized for maintaining a credit line at the upscale jewelry store Tiffany & Co. “Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with,” Gingrich said in response to his staff problems.
* Long a visible Republican figure with a reputation as one his party’s most creative thinkers, Gingrich is the author of two dozen books. His “21st Century Contract with America,” an update of his 1990s “Contract with America,” is a blueprint for recapturing the spirit of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. He is also known for an abrasive and often condescending tone with critics — an image he has tried to rehabilitate during his campaign.
* Allegations that mortgage company Freddie Mac paid Gingrich between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees have laid him open to accusations of hypocrisy. Gingrich has blamed the firm for the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008 and criticized lawmakers who accepted contributions from Freddie Mac. The firm, which was bailed out by the federal government, has been a traditional conservative whipping post.
* Gingrich has been through two divorces, a fact he admits might hurt his candidacy with religious conservatives. His first wife said he visited her in the hospital to discuss a divorce while she recovered from cancer surgery, and he has admitted to cheating on his first and second wives. Gingrich is now married to Callista Bisek, a former House staff member, with whom he had an affair. He has since converted to Catholicism and asked for God’s forgiveness.
* Gingrich has raised at least $3 million for his campaign since October 1, more than during the rest of his campaign, bringing his total for the election cycle to $2.9 million. Spokesman R.C. Hammond said Gingrich was attracting 1,000 new donors every day with donations averaging $100 each.
* Gingrich upset conservatives this year when he criticized congressional Republicans’ plans to overhaul the Medicare health program for seniors as “right-wing social engineering.” He apologized after a storm of criticism.
* In foreign policy, Gingrich has called for Cold War-style support of dissident groups in Iran to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb. He has pledged staunch defense of Israel, raised concern over anti-Christian elements of the Arab Spring, and called for an overhaul of the United Nations.
Reporting by Lily Kuo; editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson