A Visual History of Newt Gingrich's Failed, Photogenic Campaign

Newt Gingrich wasn't the most beautiful Republican presidential candidate of 2012, but he was always the most visually interesting: his expressive face, his love of props and animals, and the deep archive of photos from his long political career. Here we tell the story of Newt's "double-Lazarus" presidential campaign in photos.

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Newt Gingrich wasn't the most beautiful Republican presidential candidate of 2012, but he was always the most visually interesting: his expressive face, his love of props and animals, and the deep archive of photos from his long political career. Here we tell the story of Newt's "double-Lazarus" presidential campaign in photos.

The Ideas Man. On May 15, 2011, just after he said he's running for president, Newt Gingrich calls Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan "right-wing social engineering" on Meet the Press. Gingrich thinks of himself as an "ideas man" who's bold proposals sometimes anger both the right and the left. "Fundamentally" and "frankly" is one of Gingrich's favorite words, and you can see by the expression on his face here that he thinks he's just telling it like it is. Many Republicans disagreed. The comment marks the beginning of his campaign's first collapse. Gingrich personally apologized to Paul three days later, but the damage was done.
The Wife with Expensive Taste. Financial disclosure forms Callista Gingrich filed while working for the House agriculture committee showed that Gingrich owed between $250,000 and $500,000 to Tiffany's in 2005 and 2006. The story inspires Time to post a slideshow of all the fancy things Callista could have gotten in little blue boxes, shown below. The story adds to the impression that Gingrich is unserious and in it for the money, but there's this weird undercurrent of snobbery. Gingrich is mocked for acting like a rich redneck fixated on trinkets, while super-rich Jon Huntsman is fawned over for his love of low-brow stuff like jean jackets.
The Lazy Candidate. Gingrich disappeared from the campaign trail on June 6, and it's revealed he's on a fancy Mediterranean cruise, which cost a minimum of $2,499 per person. Staffers later claim that Callista wouldn't let him run for president unless she got her vacation time. The story perpetuates the idea that he requires luxury pampering, adding onto it an image of laziness. Also, it lead to lots of images like this, the boat in question:
Photo from Daisuke Ido via Flickr.
And boasts these amenities, via the ship's website:
And TMZ allegedly captures a photo of him topless and sunbathing like a lazy hairless cat, but the campaign denies it's Newt.
The Demanding Hairdo. Gingrich's staff resign en masse on June 9. They immediately begin griping to the press about the stuff they had to put up with to work for Newt -- and Callista, which gives us an excuse to talk about something everyone's noticed: her hair. One complaint was that the campaign couldn't schedule early-morning flights because they wouldn't give Callista enough time to do her hair. It makes the Gingriches look vain and out of touch with regular people fashion.
Photo via Associated Press.

The Overgrown Brat. Herman Cain quits the race on December 3, and Newt begins to surge. His rise is so unexpected that President Obama's campaign hasn't even prepared a real opposition research file on him. That is quickly remedied as everyone starts pouring through all the weird stuff he did in the 1990s. Remember that time he threw a tantrum because then-President Clinton made him exit out the back of Air Force One? The New York Daily News famously illustrated that story with a cartoon of the then-House Speaker as a wailing infant. The image, more than any other, helps portray Gingrich as not enough of a grown up to run the country. Romney fans appear at his rallies holding blowups of the cartoon.

Photo via Associated Press and New York Daily News.

Desperate for Attention. Disgruntled former congressional colleagues of Gingrich's begin telling tales of his epic brattiness and need for media attention. Remember all those ridiculous press conferences he used to hold? Former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole confessed he didn't understand why Gingrich walked around with some of his props.

Photo via Associated Press.

Animal Lover. Gingrich's campaign tried to show his softer side by creating a website called Pets with Newt. It had the side effect of making Gingrich look childish.

Photo via Associated Press.

In It for the Money: Despite his success in polls, Gingrich's campaign still looks in many ways like a book tour through the fall. These are some of the many, many emails Gingrich Productions sent supporters as the candidate took off in the polls urging them to buy Callista's book. Again, Gingrich looks unserious.

At many events, a staffer is paid to dress up like Ellis the Elephant, a suspiciously Newt-esque character in Callista's children's book.

Photo via Associated Press.

Pompous Jerk. Gingrich's famous arrogance gets the best of him in a mid-December debate, when he can't conceal how stupid he thinks Michele Bachmann is. It doesn't help that Bachmann is a woman, given Gingrich's history of not treating his wives so nicely.

Via FoxNews.com.

Unprincipled. Polls show Gingrich's support collapsing. It's due, in part, to the huge numbers of ads aired by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in Iowa that portray him as an unreliable conservative and influence peddler.

Media-Loving Anti-Media Crusader. Gingrich gets sassy with Juan Williams at a debate, saying he's not being racist when he says poor children should learn a work ethic by getting jobs as pre-teen janitors. He says he's just speaking the truth despite the liberal elite media's political correctness. Romney's campaign sees Williams as a stand-in for Obama, because they're both black. Gingrich goes on to crush Romney in South Carolina.

Photo via Associated Press.

Anti-Woman Swinger. Newt's second wife, Marianne Gingrich, reveals he wanted an open marriage February 19. People's private lives are always fascinating, but you can't help but notice that Gingrich and his second wife don't look like swingers at all. The widespread reaction to Newt's desires is "ew."

Wannabe Astronaut. Gingrich proposes a colony on the moon a few days before the Florida primary. This notably defensible idea -- at least compared to making tweens janitors or creating a national flax tax while keeping the mortgage deduction -- is the one that really does him in. But he sounds like a nerdy third-graders. It makes it so easy for Romney to portray him as a loopy guy who buys his own fantasies and therefore isn't serious enough to be president. The Atlantic Wire illustrated the news with this photo, because Newt looks like he's taking aliens seriously.

Revenge Candidate. Romney crushes Gingrich's second comeback by outspending him 4 to 1 in Florida. Gingrich is visibly upset in his concession speech. Conservative commentators continue to despair that his bitterness has put him on a murder-suicide mission.

Animal-Obsessed Child. Gingrich's losing streak continues, and though he's able to win his homestate, Georgia, he loses all the other southern primaries. Perhaps seeking solace, he visits more zoos. This is one from the archives, but many reporters gleefully report his zoo trips, because they are fun but also because they make Gingrich look like a third-grader.

On April 16, a penguin at the St. Louis zoo bites Gingrich on the finger. While Gingrich admits Romney is the likely nominee April 25, it seems this must have been the point of no return for Newt: losing his core constituency -- animals -- seems a particularly low blow.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.