The former House speaker from Georgia who led the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, Newt Gingrich has remained relevant and a zenith of influence in conservative Washington by building himself into a one-man industry, churning out speeches, books and policy positions.

He jumped in to the 2012 race for the White House in May 2011.

Gingrich was born June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Penn., but was raised in Hummelstown, a small nearby borough.His mother, Kathleen, and father, Newton Searles McPherson, had married the previous September, but the marriage reportedly fell apart within days. In 1946, his mother married Army officer Robert Gingrich, who adopted Gingrich. He has three younger half-sisters.

He received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Emory University in 1965. He earned a master's degree in 1968, and then a doctorate in modern European history from Tulane University in 1971.

Before his election to Congress in 1978, Newt taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College for eight years.

Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26. In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther and married Ginther in 1981. In 2000, Gingrich married House staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior, shortly after his divorce from Ginther.

The couple lives in McLean, Va. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.

In 1994, Gingrich co-authored the Contract With America and was at the forefront of the "Republican Revolution," which swept the Democrats out of power in the House for the first time in 40 years. He was named speaker of the House in 1995, and became the voice of opposition to President Bill Clinton until his tenure ended in 1999.

Since his years in Congress, he has served on several commissions, including Defense Policy Board under President George W. Bush, and has written 23 books. Gingrich also produces documentaries and served as commentator for Fox News.

On The Issues:

Defense -- He advocates a unified grand strategy for defeating radical Islamism as opposed to what he calls the confused, incoherent policy of the Obama administration, and puts an emphasis on secure borders and judicious use of military force.

Energy -- His "American Energy Plan" would open up domestic oil and natural gas development, including offshore drilling, end the ban on oil shale development in the U.S. West, replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an Environmental Solutions Agency and give coastal states federal royalty revenue sharing to give them an incentive to allow offshore development.

Health Care -- Gingrich's "Patient Power" plan would, among other things, give Americans a tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance up to a certain amount and allow them to purchase insurance across state lines. He also calls for medical malpractice reform and the expansion of Health Savings Accounts.

Jobs -- He touts a pro-growth strategy similar to policies he used as speaker of the House, and wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminate the capital gains and death taxes, slash corporate income tax, reform the Federal Reserve and move toward an optional flat tax of 15 percent.

Sources: www.newt.org, New York Times, Wikipedia