Tonight on "Special Report with Bret Baier," the fifth edition of the "Twelve in 2012" series.
Each night, Special Report will profile one of a dozen potential Republican presidential contenders. When it's all over, look for a documentary special that lays out the state of the 2012 race inside the GOP.
With every installment, Power Play will analyze the candidate's strengths, weaknesses and odds of success.
Current Position: Author, FOX News contributor, leader of a political action committee
Previous experience: Speaker of the House (1995 to 1999); congressman from Georgia 6th District (1979 to 1999); history professor at West Georgia College (1970 to 1978)
Education: Undergraduate degree from Emory University (1965); Masters in history from Tulane University (1968); doctorate in European history from Tulane University (1971)
Family: Wife, Callista, two children from a previous marriage
What you might not know:
His first wife was Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher. He was 19, she was 26.
His Pitch: Idea Man
Newt Gingrich has an opinion on just about everything. He has held forth on terrorism, health care, the nature of Chinese power in 2025, dinosaur behavior, military tactics and seemingly everything else.
While history will best remember Gingrich as the architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution, his passion isn't for politics as much as policy. Even his adversaries speak admiringly of his fecund mind and tremendous command of facts.
Gingrich backers thrill to the thought of the pugnacious former speaker embarrassing policy lightweights in Republican debates and then taking on President Obama with a machine-gun style delivery of facts and figures.
Gingrich also has huge name identification among Republicans from the 1994 takeover and his subsequent showdowns with then-President Bill Clinton over spending and then Clinton's perjury in the Paula Jones lawsuit. From the moment in 2005 that Gingrich first expressed interest in a presidential run, Gingrich made an impressive showing in polls.
Gingrich has spent more than a decade building up what is called by friends and foes alike "Newt Inc.," a sprawling commercial enterprise that sells books, movies, audiotapes, policy papers and even a replica speaker's gavel (at $99 "the perfect gift for any Gingrich fan."). He also has a political action group American Solutions for Winning the Future that boasts a wide donor base and big fundraising. His mailing lists would be the envy of most of the 2012 field.
The Knocks: A Long Trail
Gingrich converted to Catholicism from his prior Baptist faith a decade ago and he and his wife are ardent supporters of reintroducing religion into America's public life, but Gingrich is still shadowed by his two divorces and the scandal that helped drive him out of Congress.
It was an irony worthy of Chekov. Gingrich set out to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with a staffer. But in the end, Clinton survived the impeachment and it was revealed that Gingrich had been having an affair with a congressional staffer during the prosecution. He later married the young woman, but his own caucus was in revolt against him.
But even if Republicans were forgiving on that front, Gingrich's volubility and professorial tone aren't always assets.
By offering so many opinions, predictions and pronouncements over the years, Gingrich has given his potential primary opponents and Democrats lots of ammunition for going on the attack.
Gingrich's big brain also sometimes gives him a know-it-all quality that causes problems in the most important category for presidential contenders: likability.
Power Play's Odds on Nomination: 25 to 1
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.