Newt’s Grandiose Thoughts

A Selection Of Speaker Gingrich's Thoughts Over The Years

While they seem to have been caught completely flat-footed by rather obvious questions about their candidate’s finances, Team Romney was quick on the trigger when Newt Gingrich proudly owned what Rick Santorum intended as a criticism: “I think grandiose thoughts.” They quickly got out a hilarious collection of Gingrich’s golden oldies:

A Selection Of Speaker Gingrich’s Thoughts Over The Years

Gingrich on Gingrich:

  • “I Think I Am A Transformational Figure.” (, 12/2/11)
  • “I Am Essentially A Revolutionary.” (Adam Clymer, “House Revolutionary,” The New York Times, 8/23/92)
  • “Philosophically, I Am Very Different From Normal Politicians … We Have Big Ideas.” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power.” (Lois Romano, “Newt Gingrich, Maverick On The Hill,” The Washington Post, 1/3/85)
  • “I First Talked About [Saving Civilization] In August Of 1958.” (Robert Draper, “He’s Baaack!” GQ, 8/05)
  • “Over My Years In Public Life, I Have Become Known As An ‘Ideas Man.'” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Am The Longest Serving Teacher In The Senior Military, 23 Years Teaching One And Two-Star Generals And Admirals The Art Of War.” (GOP Presidential Candidates Debate, 12/15/11)

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself to a Litany of Historical Leaders:

Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: ”Gingrich said he learned a lot about himself in the political wilderness. … In the same breath, he compares himself to two conservative giants. With Gingrich, humility has its limits. ‘Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.'” (Jim Acosta, “Newt Gingrich Back From The Brink,”, 11/16/11)

Abraham Lincoln: ”Gingrich began his speech with remarks in which he predicted an economic recovery ‘literally’ the night Republicans would send Barack Obama home, and then announced, ‘I begin as Lincoln did.’ He argued that, like Lincoln, all his ideas came out of the Declaration of Independence.” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Woodrow Wilson: ”He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN’s Bob Franken: ‘I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.'” (John Pitney, “Five Myths About Newt Gingrich,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

Henry Clay: ”Putting his tumultuous four years in the speaker’s chair into historical perspective, the former history professor compared himself to 19th century statesman Henry Clay, ‘the great compromiser’ who lost three bids for the presidency and served as speaker and secretary of State. Gingrich said that like Clay, he did more than just preside over the House. ‘I was not a presider, I was the leader,’ Gingrich said in the interview. ‘I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.'” (William Welch, “Gingrich: I’ll Go Down As Leader, Clinton As Tragedy,” USA Today, 8/30/99)

Charles De Gaulle: ”‘At one point, I asked Gingrich, now a healthful-looking 65, about his sudden exit from Congress in 1998. ‘First of all, in the Toynbeean sense, I believe in departure and return,’ he told me. ‘In the what sense?’ I asked. ‘Arnold Toynbee,’ he replied matter-of-factly, referring to the English writer Arnold J. Toynbee, who wrote ‘A Study of History.’ ‘I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for 11 years.’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left.'” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

William Wallace: ”‘If you go out and see what’s happening in the Tea Party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,’ Gingrich says, then refers to the epic movie about the battle for Scottish independence in the 13th century. ‘Remember Braveheart? These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells “Charge!” That is, someone like him.” (Susan Page, “Rising From The Pack, Gingrich Invites Scrutiny,” USA Today, 11/21/11)

Pericles: ”In a long interview on May 4, 1992, devoted almost exclusively to the topic of Gingrich, [former White House aide Richard] Darman concluded that Gingrich was ‘an unstable personality’ who talks about four or five great people in history, including Pericles and himself.” (Bob Woodward, “In His Debut In Washington’s Power Struggles, Gingrich Threw A Bomb,” The Washington Post, 12/24/11)

The Duke Of Wellington: ”Obsessed recently with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, [Gingrich] likened the appropriations triumph to the way the British expeditionary force maneuvered against the French during the Peninsular War, a campaign in Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s that eventually led to Wellington’s ascendance and Napoleon’s abdication.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

A Viking:  ”With his machine-gun staccato delivery, [Gingrich] is the center of attention. He terms himself a ‘Viking.'” (“Gingrich Delivers For GOP Faithful,” South Bend Tribune, 7/28/95)

Thomas Edison: ”Once he took over GOPAC in 1986, the organization became what he called the creative thinking and research group of the Republican Party. ‘We are on the way to becoming the Bell Labs of politics,’ Mr. Gingrich proclaimed. ‘That’s the closest model you can find to what we do, and nobody else is in that business. The first thing you need at Bell Labs is a Thomas Edison, and the second thing you need is a real understanding of how you go from scientific theory to a marketable product.'” (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Birth Of A Vision,” The New York Times, 12/3/95)

Vince Lombardi: ”By four in the morning, [Gingrich] had moved on to football metaphors. What the Republicans had accomplished, Gingrich said, was like the old Green Bay Packers sweep during the days of Coach Vince Lombardi: The opposition knows you are going to run at them, but they cannot stop you. Lombardi, Gingrich said, believed that the team that doesn’t break in the fourth quarter wins.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

The Wright Brothers:  “At that dinner, held in a convention center in Johnston, Gingrich sought to add more emotional lift into his stump speech. ‘I am asking you to embark with me on a voyage of invention and discovery,’ he said, ‘to be as bold and as brave as the Wright brothers.'” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Moses: ”On this night, Gingrich congratulated his troops on standing united and inspired them with stories about Charles de Gaulle’s heroism and George Washington at Valley Forge … At one point, he likened himself, lightheartedly, to Moses. He’d help them cross the Red Sea once again, Gingrich vowed, but only if they promised, this time, to stay on the other side.” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

Clearly, they were ready for this one.

Hint: People will be asking about RomneyCare and issues related to Romney having made a boatload of money in ways rendered unpopular by the Wall Street meltdown of a few years ago. Trust me on this.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Humor, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Peacewood says:

    I know you and Doug want Romney to win (and I can scarcely blame you), but you have to admit he didn’t fare very well tonight… at all, really. Bumpy times ahead.

  2. Gustopher says:

    Thomas Edison rather famously electrocuted an elephant. An odd figure for Gingrich to compare himself to.

  3. Kylopod says:

    There are different types of egomaniacs. Frankly, most people who run for president have fairly large egos. But people like that usually have at least some sense of subtlety, and know how silly it sounds to most people when you compare yourself to revered figures of the past. What’s striking about Gingrich is that he completely lacks that level of self-awareness and seems to believe that boldly declaring these things to be true about himself is a great way to impress others with his excellence. In short, he’s not just an egomaniac, but a highly delusional one.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    The self-righteous indignation he displayed in the beginning of the debate when someone dared to ask him such a “vicious” question was positively Clintonesque…obviously the little Newt learned well from the master…

  5. just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Looking at the comparisons and the hyperbole, he kind of reminds me of a pseudo-intellectual Charley Sheen.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    As said, Gingrich is what a dumb person thinks an intelligent person sounds like.

    (Pericles? PERICLES?!!!! Look, Newtie-boy, in 50 years people will still enshrine Pericles (and quote him) while you will only be remembered as a miniscule footnote in someone’s treatise on egotistical politicians.)

  7. @Gustopher: It’s also odd to compare himself to Woodrow Wilson who conservatives, particularly the Glenn Beck-types, consider a lesser Satan.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Timothy Watson: Gingrich has never allowed the boundaries of doctrinaire conservatism to stymie his flights of fancy, to put it mildly. This is a guy who once suggested giving free laptops to poor people (apparently he thinks everyone has a right to a computer but not to health care), and he has a long history of speaking admiringly about historical figures who fall well outside the right-wing canon. It’s all part of how he gained this absurd rep as an “idea man.” Conservatism isn’t traditionally associated with broad visions for moving society forward, and what throws people off about Gingrich is his weird habit of combining far-right cultural themes with surprisingly progressive (but usually poorly thought out) proposals.

  9. bandit says:

    Did he say this was when the sick were going to start to receive care and the sea levels were going to stop rising?

  10. sam says:

    In sum, we have Baron Münchhausen running for President of the United States.

  11. @sam:

    No, when Baron Münchhausen was called to service, he went to fight.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Peacewood: I’m not sure I see the contradiction. Indeed, the post begins and ends acknowledging that Team Romney has had a bad few days, getting caught flat-footed on something that they not only knew was coming but simply isn’t a big deal. Gingrich, by contrast, managed to score points off of further revelations of what a giant scumbag he is.

    It’s conceivable, but not likely, that Gingrich will win the nomination now that the field has narrowed to only four candidates. He may well win South Carolina now and has a good shot in Florida with Perry out of the way. We shall see.

  13. People will be asking about RomneyCare and issues related to Romney having made a boatload of money in ways rendered unpopular by the Wall Street meltdown of a few years ago.

    I’m afraid that sentence is weak tea, James.

    Rather than talk about “people” talk about whether you can actually endorse off-shore hedge funds as growth centers for a new America. Or whether you can actually make them the model for a new America.

    (What I expect is for this weak line of defense to become common. It isn’t that everything Bain did, or the off-shore funds did, was good. It’s that the “not exactly good” should not be criticized.)

  14. (But I must admit that if we are doing a “scumbag scale,” Romney gets very low rank compared to Gingrich. The latter scores an 11.)

  15. MBunge says:

    Newsflash! Newt Gingrich thinks highly of himself!