I met Newt Gingrich in 1993 when he spoke at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. Never having heard of the man I went into that lecture prepared to hear a typical half-hearted prepared political speech. I left the auditorium a changed person: a "born again American". I saw different kind of politician: a brilliant historian passionately in love with the United States. He explained that history has selected us to be participants in the greatest political experiment the world has ever known: to see if it is possible for human beings to govern themselves without a king or dictator to force his idea a Utopia on us. Newt urged us to read about the foundations of our Country and gave a list of readings for every American. I took his advice and as I studied I came to realize that the Constitution is to the Country what the Bible is to the Church: the basis upon which all else follows. I also began to devour everything Newt wrote and I too fell in love with this Country. I had the privilege of being a volunteer member of his task force on Medicare reform. I got to know his hopes and dreams for America. My admiration was profound.
Then came the disappointing news that my hero had "feet of clay" with his extra-marital affair, divorce and resignation from Congress. Disgusted and disillusioned I threw out the boxes of information I had accumulated labeled "Newt". I stopped listening to him but he went right on trying to rescue the American Experiment. I tried not to notice as he worked tirelessly with conservative think-tanks, wrote learned books and even fiction to get his message out to common folks. But I couldn't turn from his message. I noticed each time he turned down a run for president saying in effect "I prefer to be a private person. I will read, study and do the homework for you guys so you candidates can carry the message to the American people." He watched and hoped through several elections that someone would take up the message. No one did so he finally decided to grit his teeth, endure the contempt that would be sure follow and attempt to do the job himself - much as his own hero George Washington did.
When political sages laid out their blueprint for winning the presidency Newt refused to follow saying he would not stoop to those tactics but would run an issues oriented campaign even if it meant losing. They abandoned him and ever the best minds on FOX news declared his candidacy DOA. Newt is a visionary and like all visionaries it is difficult to get the "blind" to share his vision. He told me that our political opponents are not evil people but just uninformed of what America is all about. He urged me to use every opportunity to educate not argue with them. I have tried to do that but at age 80 I am weary of fighting what seems to be a losing battle. We are in a struggle for the soul of America. I sincerely urge you to study Newt's message, take it heart, spread it and give him a chance to bring this Country back to the founding principles that has make it the greatest nation in the history of mankind. God bless America.
Antoinette "Toni" Parsons