Category Archives: Mentions

His authorized biography arrives Tuesday: Newt Gingrich, a historic conservative || Washington Times

His authorized biography arrives Tuesday: Newt Gingrich, a historic conservative

 – The Washington Times – Monday, August 28, 2017

As a political brand, Newt Gingrich has had authentic staying power over the decades — fearlessly navigating the news media, Capitol Hill and the crisis du jour with finesse and institutional knowledge. But who the heck is he? The answer might be found in a new authorized biography of Mr. Gingrich, published in an era when some forces seek to rewrite history — particularly Republican and conservative history. Arriving Tuesday, it’s “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative” by Craig Shirley, a historian and Ronald Reagan biographer who parsed out pivotal decades of Mr. Gingrich’s career, with input from friends and foes alike.

“Newt’s influence on American politics has not waned over the decades. He was instrumental both as an adviser to Donald Trump in 2016 and continues to define the political landscape through his books, op-eds, videos and media appearances. Very few have been as successful as this man from Georgia,” says Mr. Shirley, who notes that his biographer of one Newton Leroy Gingrich shows a real guy who has risen through the ranks.

The author penned the book with full cooperation from Mr. Gingrich, who ultimately became speaker of the house and originated the influential “Contract with America,” a document released in 1994 which employed Reagan’s words, as well as his ideas about smaller government, lower taxes and other matters. The GOP won big that year.

“Part of the reason I chose to write this political biography is because much of what has been written about Gingrich by lefties is false, exaggerated or irrelevant — and also because I’ve come to the conclusion that conservatives cannot allow liberals to write our history. Most modern liberals cannot be trusted to record conservative history accurately anymore. They are too interested in rewriting history to fit their own sequence of events.” says Mr. Shirley.

“There are two games in this country. One is played by the 5,000 insiders in Washington who write the laws and tells the lies, and the other by the rest of us, who pay the price. That’s what we can’t tolerate,” Mr. Gingrich says of the nation’s capital.

The publisher is Thomas Nelson; find the book at


How Reagan Handled Attempts to Tie Him to Hate || Lifezette

How Reagan Handled Attempts to Tie Him to Hate

Trump can learn something about how to heal racial division from the last populist GOP president

by Jim Stinson 

Long before President Donald Trump was accused of catering to racists, showing racial insensitivity, and other moral crimes, Ronald Reagan faced similar accusations as a governor, as a candidate, and as a president.

Former President Reagan was often the subject of invective accusing him of the worst sort of motives, including racism and hatred — incendiary accusations much like those Trump has endured since he declared his candidacy in 2015.

Trump has struggled to shrug off the attacks and reinvigorated a media firestorm Tuesday afternoon over his willingness to condemn white nationalists with a meandering and poorly advised press conference.

Perhaps the president can learn a lesson in how to deal with the explosive issue of race from his most recent, populist predecessor.

For Reagan, when his hand was forced, he would forcefully rebut the charges, according to Craig Shirley, a top Reagan biographer and author of the recent biography, “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative.”

Reagan also did not hesitate to denounce racism and its practitioners, Shirley told LifeZette on Tuesday.

The 1980 Campaign Kickoff
On Aug. 3, 1980, Reagan attended the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi. Some at the time — and still, to this day — call this the campaign kickoff.

It wasn’t, says Shirley. Reagan had already kicked off his campaign in Liberty State Park in New Jersey, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

The proximity of the fair to Philadelphia, Mississippi — where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964 — was used by The New York Times and others to bash Reagan. Reagan attended the fair and spoke of states’ rights as a sort of dog whistle to racists in the South, the hostile media narrative went.

The slur still lingers in liberal echo chambers, such as the op-ed pages of The Times. But Shirley notes the fair is one of the biggest political events in Mississippi. Reagan’s opponent, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, had won Mississippi in 1976, and it made sense for Reagan to go there.

To this day, there is almost no explanation in screeds against Reagan that the fair is a big political draw. Indeed, the fair’s website notes that the fair got a reputation as a must-attend political event when the governor spoke there in 1896. Over the years, the fair drew “Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Sen. John Glenn [the Ohio Democrat].” Shirley notes that liberal Democrat Mike Dukakis, of Massachusetts, also went there in 1988.

Reagan handled the whole controversy by focusing campaign attention on winning over black voters and speaking at the Urban League, Shirley said. Reagan easily defeated President Jimmy Carter on Nov. 4, 1980.

The Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan endorsed Reagan for re-election in 1984. As usual, the endorsement was used against Reagan in much the same way a Klan endorsement was used against Trump in 2016.

Reagan responded by “ripping them apart,”said Shirley. Reagan wrote to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and denounced the Klan.

”Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse,” Reagan wrote. “The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”

Reagan went on to resoundingly defeat former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat.

By the time he left office in 1989, Reagan had an approval rating of above 40 percent among black voters, according to Shirley, “which is astonishing for a post-Eisenhower Republican.”

Reagan was also the subject of many cheap shots throughout his political career, some of which he wisely ignored.

In 1966, Reagan first ran for California governor. Incumbent Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown, a Democrat and the father of current California Gov. Jerry Brown, compared Reagan, then a retired actor, to John Wilkes Booth, the actor who killed President Abraham Lincoln. The Brown campaign never recovered. Reagan unseated Brown by a 15-point margin.

Trump Can Look to Reagan
Trump can and should look to Reagan’s numerous examples on racial healing — there are many — as he tries to handle the fallout from violence at the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally on Saturday that led to the death of three Americans.

“He’s got to embrace the police investigation, and he ought to meet with African-American leaders,” said Shirley. “He ought to give a national speech on race relations. He’s got to reach out.”

Trump made several promises to black voters, such as rebuilding inner cities and bringing job opportunities to poor areas. He needs to begin making that happen, Shirley advised.

On Tuesday, after Shirley spoke to LifeZette, Trump gave a press conference in Trump Tower in which he appeared to, again, blame “both sides” for the Charlottesville, Virginia, tragedy. It did not go over well with pundits.

“He’s taking on water,” said Shirley. “That all needs to change.”


Religious Biographies Spotlight Inspiring Lives || Publishers Weekly

The life of another influencer—this one in politics—is told in Citizen Newt by Craig Shirley (Nelson, Aug.), an authorized biography that examines Gingrich’s work and his Christian faith. Says executive editor Brian Hampton: “We actually signed this book back in 2010, long before Trump entered the political arena.” But with the release of Gingrich’s Understanding Trump (Center Street, June), Hampton says Nelson plans to connect the two books in its marketing: “It will be along the lines of, ‘If you want to understand Donald Trump, read Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich. If you want to understand Newt Gingrich, read Citizen Newt by Craig Shirley.’ ”


“Reagan Rising” featured in the Season: Summer Reading List for 2017

4. Craig Shirley, Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980 (Broadside Books, 2017). This is Craig Shirley’s fourth book on Ronald Reagan and his presidency, and probably the most unlikely. In Reagan Rising, he tells Reagan’s story from his razor-close loss to President Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination to his landslide election as President of the United States in the 1980 election. But Shirley also tells the story of Reagan’s intellectual and political development — in many ways Reagan in 1980 was different from the Reagan of 1964 or 1976. Shirley also lays out the redefinition of the Republican Party and the transformation of the American political landscape. I worked as a teenage campaign volunteer in the 1976 Reagan campaign, responsible for enlisting South Florida high school students in the Reagan cause. It was in the course of that campaign that I met Ronald Reagan and saw him in unscripted moments before a campaign event as well as behind the podium. I knew then that Ronald Reagan was a man of ideas, passionately held. I knew the outlines of the story from 1976 to 1980, but Craig Shirley now offers the definitive narrative of those years in Reagan Rising. Readers will understand today’s political landscape far better after reading this book.


Running for president is never easy, and it was especially hard for Ronald Reagan, as he had not just the usual obstacles to overcome, but also those of the skeptics in his own party and a very hostile and malicious national media. He had a halfhearted attempt in 1968, ran full out in 1976, and even more so in 1980. But then, he was a fully formed American conservative. Many times, however, he heard from critics in the GOP establishment that he was ‘just an actor.’ But as he wisely said later, in the waning days of his presidency, after being asked if he’d learned anything in Hollywood that helped him to be a good president, ‘I’ve wondered how you could do this job and not be an actor.’ …. Reagan remains one of the most fascinating figures of history and the American presidency, in part because he was a constantly evolving individual. his worldview in 1964 was not his worldview in 1980. his conservatism had changed,  from simply being against the intrusions of government to the more positive advance of individual freedom.”