PBS releases 1996 documentary ‘The Long March of Newt Gingrich’ for the Web

In 1996, PBS Frontline produced a documentary film about the life of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, complete with interviews with his mother, step-father and family friends.

As Gingrich approaches the first electoral contest in his bid for the White House in Iowa, PBS has been re-releasing the feature online, dividing the footage into short web videos. Hosted by Newsweek's Peter J. Boyer, the clips offer insight into the character of Gingrich as they chronicle his rise in national politics.

Here are some bits from the first video, embedded below:

  • Gingrich's mother, Kathleen, affectionately calls him "Newtie."

  • Gingrich, a child with few friends, loved movies. One day, he went to the theater and watched "The Sands of Iwo Jima" four times.

  • His stepfather, Army war veteran Bob Gingrich, never saw his stepson follow in his footsteps and joining the military: "He has two of the flattest feet that there ever was," he says. "He was never physically capable or qualified to be military."

  • "He was a little bratty," Gingrich's stepfather said. "He was not a brat; he was precocious."

You can watch the clip here:

And you can watch Part II after the jump.

In the second segment, Frontline examines the Newt's high school years:

  • Gingrich wrote a senior class play in 1960 which Newt cast himself as Richard Nixon. He told the teacher that one day he would be president.

  • Gingrich didn't date during high school, but he had a secret relationship with his geometry teacher, who he later married.

  • When he tired out for the high school football team, Gingrich couldn't find a helmet that fit his head. The coach called football teams throughout the state to see if they had a helmet that could fit him. When that failed, they had one specially made for him.

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