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5 Things You Didn't Know About Newt Gingrich

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After more than 30 years in the spotlight, there's not much we don't know about presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Still, these five things about him might surprise you.

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Once named Time's Man of the Year for his leadership in ending 40 years of congressional majority rule by the Democrats, Newt Gingrich is surely one of the most high-profile and talked-about Republicans of the past few decades.

Whether it's his role as the architect of the GOP's Contract with America in the 1990s, his attempt to impeach President Bill Clinton, or his number of marriages, Gingrich, as CNN noted when Gingrich resigned as speaker of the House in 1998, "has been a lightning rod for controversy."

Having been written off in June after reports emerged that he had once owed as much as $500,000 to jewelry company Tiffany & Co. (TIF), Gingrich has revived his presidential campaign following a series of strong showings at Republican presidential debates. He's also gained momentum just by hanging in there as Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have fallen by the wayside.

With the intense media scrutiny that comes with being one of the favorites of the GOP presidential nomination, there seems to be nothing about Gingrich that goes unnoticed. While we've all heard about how he thinks child labor laws are "truly stupid" and how he suggested that school children should work as janitors, here are five noteworthy things about the 68-year-old that might surprise you.

1. He is just as much of a flip-flopper as Mitt Romney.
While Romney gets slaughtered by the press for his flip-flopping, Gingrich has surprisingly escaped media criticism even though he's changed his views on numerous topics. As Gingrich steadily emerges as the main rival to Romney, however, it seems like news outlets are taking notice. Dan Amira of New York lists some of the former speaker's most egregious flip-flops.

Health Insurance Mandate:
  • Flip: "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." -- June 2007
  • Flop: "I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional." -- May 16, 2011
Cap-and-Trade:
  • Flip: "I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there's a package there that's very, very good. And frankly, it's something I would strongly support." -- February 2, 2007
  • Flop: "A carbon cap and trade system ... would lead to corruption, political favoritism, and would have a huge impact on the economy." -- April 21, 2008

Gingrich's flip-flopping doesn't apply only to Democratic policies. He notably made a 180-degree turn on Paul Ryan's budget. After first calling it "right-wing social engineering" and "radical," he turned around two days later and said that "any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood because I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate."

2. He is a prolific book reader, writer, and reviewer.
Many supporters of Gingrich cite the former speaker's intelligence and his ability to go toe-to-toe in a hypothetical debate with President Barack Obama as reasons why he should be the GOP presidential nominee. Indeed, among the GOP candidates, only Gingrich and Ron Paul can boast of holding doctoral degrees.

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