‘Derry man’ Newt Gingrich wants to be next US President

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Newt Gingrich, the man hoping to become the next President of the United States, has strong links to Derry and Donegal.

Back in August 1998, the former Congress leader was in the North West to trace his Derry-Donegal roots.

His mother is Kathleen Daugherty from Pennsylvania and he has been researching her Irish roots for several years.

This week, Mr. Gingrich (67) announced he will run for the presidency in 2012.

Mr Gingrich, who left elected office in 1999, becomes the best known of what analysts consider a lacklustre field of declared Republican candidates.

He is best known for leading a team of conservative Republicans who won control of the US House of Representatives in the 1994 election.

Mr Gingrich says he believes President Barack Obama had pushed the “wrong policies that have lead to the wrong outcomes”.

He said: “I believe we can return America to hope and opportunity, to full employment, to real security, to an American energy programme, to a balanced budget.”

Mr Gingrich added: “We’ve done it before. We can do it again.”

In order to “get America back on track”, he said US citizens would have to “talk together, work together, find solutions together and insist on imposing solution on those who don’t want to change”.

On his 1998 visit to the North West, the US politician was accompanied by Foyle MP John Hume whose mother is also Doherty.

During his trip to Derry, he visited the Tower Museum and Guildhall where he held talks with the North’s then Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon.

During a visit to the Inch Island HQ of the Clann O’Dochartaigh, Mr. Gingrich received a specially-bound and inscribed copy of “O’Doherty, People and Places”, by local author Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh.

He is, according to friends, immensely proud of his Irish ancestry.

In the past, he has hosted St. Patrick’s Day luncheons for visiting Irish leaders and praised President Clinton’s handling of the Irish issue.

Mr Gingrich is seen as a font of conservative policy ideas and controls a broad network of non-profit organisations and business ventures.

But he is twice divorced, and in the 1990s - while he was leading the charge to impeach President Bill Clinton in connection with his affair with a White House intern - he had an extramarital affair with the woman who became his third wife.

Socially conservative voters influential in the Republican primary race could be turned off by that past, analysts say.