Whip of a Different Stripe

NEWT Gingrich is the son of a career soldier. Born in Harrisburg, Pa., he later adopted Georgia as his home state. He taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College and ran for Congress three times before winning. Divorced and remarried, Mr. Gingrich is a Baptist deacon.

Gingrich once spent 24 hours in a wheelchair, saying he wanted to better understand the handicapped. In 1985, he portrayed a forthcoming meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as potentially ``the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with [Neville] Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.''

Even opponents say Gingrich has an ability to make people react. He is a forceful debater; his sentences pour out rounded, parsed, suitable for framing.

The 174-member GOP minority was asked to choose between Gingrich and Rep. Edward Madigan of Illinois of the get-along, go-along school, which Gingrich derides. The vacancy opened when President Bush installed Republican whip Dick Cheney in the Pentagon after the Senate rejected John Tower as secretary of defense.

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