I’m currently working on an image repair campaign for presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to fulfill my course requirement for my Public Relations Media Programming class. With the presidential election coming up in November, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to focus on a presidential candidate.
Choosing my subject at the beginning of the semester, I was unsure of where the race would stand by April when a majority of my paper would be written. Now that approximately half of the primaries have been held, Gingrich is in third place for Republicans, ahead of Ron Paul but behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. At this time, it is unlikely that he’ll gain a majority of his party’s nomination, but it won’t hurt to protect his image so he can work to become a highly compensated conservative political analyst if he doesn’t move onto presidency.
I chose Gingrich as a subject not necessarily because I plan to vote for him, but because I thought he could have potential with implemented image repair tactics. Three I noticed in particular are his family life, his role as a lecturer versus a leader, and his Contract with America campaign.
Politics aside, many people are concerned with Gingrich’s familial relations and marriages. Gingrich is on his third marriage, two ending in divorce due to infidelity. Gingrich married his first wife, Jackie Battley, at age 19. They had two daughters, Jackie and Kathy, before their split in 1980. He remarried the following year to Marianne Ginther. They divorced in 1999 when he was simultaneously leading charges against the Clinton Affair, only admitted in 2007. Currently, Gingrich seems happily married to Callista Bisek Gingrich who is among his top political supporters. While you can argue that his personal life should stay private, Americans are not looking to be represented by a person who has a history of infidelity, not just once but twice. To counter his marriages, I suggest that he emphasizes a healthy relationship with his current wife Callista, and genuinely showing the importance of family with his two daughters and two grandchildren (Jackie’s children – Maggie and Robert).
Speeches are obviously a major focus point because an effective leader must be a strong communicator. Since Gingrich is a teacher by profession, he naturally he has a lecturing tendency. He taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College for eight years before pursuing politics. The best way to avoid this is to focus on using ‘we’ instead of ‘you.’ Gingrich should also avoid verbal attacks on Obama when possible. At times, it is necessary to bring up an opponent and their approach so you can offer your suggestion, but it often can be taken wrong. Gingrich has been known to do this during speeches and with tweets. Instead, Gingrich should focus on his strengths so he can be best remembered as confident and respectful, even towards his political rivals.
The Contract for America originally came out in 1994 and was written by Larry Hunter with help from politicians like Gingrich, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union addressed delivered in 1985. Republican were glad to regain majority in the US House of Representatives after 40 years. This contract was an attempt to gain support and ensure the House stayed in their favor. In his campaign, Gingrich has revamped the contract, especially stressing his drill in America campaign. Social Security for the future is another hot topic that the public wants to know each candidates ideas for.
My study will especially focus on how the mainstream media perceives him. It’s common knowledge that people will focus on your shortcomings before they credit you with your strengths. At the moment, Gingrich is in third place. Although Texas and California Primaries are still to come in addition to nearly 15 other states, I’d like to build up Gingrich’s image so he can remain active in politics whether he moves forward as a presidential candidate or not.
Stay tuned, a lot can between now and the completion of my 15 page paper due next month!