Mar 27, 2007

Newt Gingrich to speak at grad ceremony

by Joanne Tang, News Editor
Former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has been tapped as the commencement speaker for the graduation ceremonies to be held May 19, 2007.

Gingrich is notable for being a staunch Republican and a leader in the Republican party after the elections of 1994 led to a Republican majority in the House.

This will be Gingrich’s second time speaking at Liberty. He previously spoke to graduates in 1991.

The News & Advance reported March 6 that Gingrich will be speaking on “Rediscovering God in America,” which will be a look at “the role of faith in our nation’s history and future.”
It is also the name of his book published in October 2006.

Like his commencement predecessor, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Gingrich is bringing with him a bit of controversy.

Gingrich went on the air with Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family on March 9 to discuss radical Islam and its impact on America.

During this, Dobson asked him about his personal life.

Gingrich then admitted to an extramarital affair in the 1990s at the same time that then-president Bill Clinton was having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Dobson asked him if the rumors “were true that you were in an affair with a woman, obviously who wasn’t your wife, at the same time that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were having their escapade.”

In response, Gingrich said, “Well, the fact is that the honest answer is yes.”

After this admission, he also said, “There are things in my own life that I have turned to God and gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought God’s forgiveness.”

“I believe deeply that people fall short and that people have to recognize they have to turn to God to seek forgiveness and seek mercy,” he also said.

“There are certainly times where I have fallen short of God’s standards.”

Liberty senior Phil Hawkins said Gingrich’s admittance of wrongdoing does not change his opinion of him. “Only because Clinton’s affair wasn’t a real surprise for me,” he said. “Most people are shocked at both (Clinton and Gingrich) — I’m (shocked at) neither.”

“(He is) one of the brightest politicians of our era,” said School of Business professor S. Greg Halford.

“Show me a politician who doesn’t have any skeletons in their closet.”

After news hit of Gingrich’s admission, Dr. Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty, expressed his praise of Gingrich for admitting his wrongdoings.

In an article posted on the Moral Majority Web site, Falwell said, “I have been very impressed with the spiritual maturity of this man and am convinced that he has been honest and forthright in clarifying his past failings and his quest, as a Christian, for God’s forgiveness.” While Gingrich has not officially announced his bid for the presidential nomination, it is possible he will announce his decision in the summer.

“I’ll reserve my final judgment on Gingrich’s selection (of commencement speech) when I hear the man speak,” said Hawkins. “If he gives us a true graduation message, I will be glad to hear his advice and partake in his wisdom and experience.”

For the full discussion with Dobson and Gingrich, please see http://www.oneplace.com/Ministries/Focus_on_the_Family/Archives.asp?bcd=2007-3-9.

Contact Joanne Tang at jtang@liberty.edu.


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