Newt Gingrich is headed to Las Vegas tonight, friendly territory in that it's home to his billionaire backer Sheldon Adelson and Carrot Top, the comedian with whom Gingrich has so much in common, namely an unabiding love of prop comedy. For decades Gingrich has been hailed as a master manipulator of the media, in part because of his powerfully staged press conferences. The best Newt press conferences had props. A look back at some of Gingrich's best prop comedy over the years.
In the photo above, taken May 8, 1997, Gingrich was trying to say that he wanted women to have to stop working so hard for the government. May 8 was estimated to be the last day the average worker's salary was vacuumed up by the federal government in taxes. But he was always a Tea Partier, as seen on April 15, 1994 in Georgia:
Meeting with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on January 4, 1995. From the Associated Press caption: "From left are, The Blue Ranger, Pink Ranger, White Ranger, Gingrich, Black Ranger, Red Ranger and the Yellow Ranger."
Accusing Democrats of trying to destroy him by bringing up ethics complaints about his book deal on January 19, 1995. Gingrich said he was holding the only money he made from the book -- a dollar.
"Ever since he penned a column for the National Enquirer last month, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga) has been a favorite subject of the supermarket tabloids," Roll Call reported March 2, 1995. "The most outrageous one, the Weekly World News, has run several features on Gingrich recently... Gingrich's spokesman, Tony Blankley, is quoted in the article as saying the talks between the Speaker and the alien were 'very intense.'"
"It says much about House Speaker Newt Gingrich's leadership style that Wednesday, a crucial day for the Republican's Contract With America, was also circus day at the Capitol," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote on April 5, 1995. It was the 125th anniversary of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus just as Gingrich was trying to round up votes for his Contract with America.
This time the Associated Press caption perfectly captures how ahead of his time Gingrich was: "Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, right, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Ga., with the help of "Ben Frankiln" introduce the first conservative Internet community "Town Hall," in Washington on Thursday, June 29, 1995." A Founding Father, two computers, a flag, a town hall -- what more could a Tea Partying blogger ask for?
When the House passed Medicare legislation October 19, 1995:
Gingrich was bitten on the chin while nuzzling this baby cougar during a November 11, 1995 press conference. He took it into a closed meeting with Republicans on the budget, the Associated Press reported. "He gets bit every day, doesn't he?" Jack Hanna quipped.
Last week, Bob Dole complained he could never figure out why Gingrich was carrying around this ice bucket all the time in the 1990s. Gingrich was trying to show he'd cut frivolous congressional perks like free ice.
He kept up the tradition on the campaign trail in Iowa in October.
(Photos via Associated Press.)