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Newt Gingrich

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In a Republican primary season that saw changing frontrunners, surprise defections and shifting poll numbers, there was one constant the public could count on: Callista Gingrich’s perfectly-coiffed, platinum blond bob, with its signature swoop to the left. The interest in her hair was also constant—a pollster for the Gingrich campaign told the New York Times that the candidate’s wife was asked about the look “at every stop” on the campaign trail.

The interest is predictable at this point, as politicians and their spouses have come under increased scrutiny for their hair choices in recent years. From Hillary Clinton’s ponytails and headbands to Michelle Obama’s pinned back updo for a 2009 event, every departure from a public figure’s normal hairstyle creates a media stir. Which is why Gingrich’s consistency was so remarkable.

George Ozturk of Washington’s George Salon at the Four Seasons, which Callista Gingrich used to frequent, describes her hairstyle as an updated 1970s bob. “Only in this country would a potential president’s wife’s hairstyle get so much attention,” says Ozturk, who has styled Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and King Abdullah II of Jordan, among others. “But it has become so well-known that to change it now would be a big mistake for Mrs. Gingrich.”

Paul Ramadan, a hairstylist at Washington’s Nantucket Hair Salon who previously worked with former Second Lady Lynn Cheney, says that, in general, women tend to get picked on more than their male counterparts for their beauty and sartorial choices. “Callista’s hairstyle is not typical—it could be a little more contemporary, but I think this is how she likes it,” Ramadan says of the heightened awareness of the look. “It’s a nice bob, but Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. [Laura] Bush just blended in more.”

With Newt Gingrich leaving the presidential race, LightBox looks back on Callista Gingrich’s now-famous Swoosh.

More photos: Newt Gingrich’s Life in Pictures

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I arrived in Charlotte, N.C. early on the day of the South Carolina primary and headed straight to Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville. Newt Gingrich was giving an electrifying speech inside as a crowd milled around outside. The previous week I’d covered my first presidential primary in New Hampshire, where many events were disrupted by attention seekers and protesters. Occupy Wall Street supporters came to a Mitt Romney rally and were quickly thrown out by police. At a Ron Paul event, a man with a boot on his head named Vermin Supreme made chicken noises and claimed that if he were elected president, every American would get a pony.

South Carolina was more restrained. There were no active protesters. A lone Ron Paul supporter kept a silent vigil a respectful distance away. Tommy’s Ham House continued to serve breakfast. I didn’t try their famous ham, but their hot cakes were excellent. Gingrich left in a bus with a giant portrait of his face emblazoned on the side. It started pouring and the crowd hid under signs that read, ‘Newt 2012. Rebuilding the America We Love.’

Next, Gingrich stopped at a nearby middle school serving as a voting station. He patiently shook every hand of the assembled crowd, numbering close to a hundred. There were only a few journalists, compared to New Hampshire, where the media often ringed the candidates three or four deep.

One of the last stops of the day was a Gingrich campaign gathering at a Chick-fil-A in Anderson. Like most Gingrich events, it was packed to the brim, with supporters pressing their faces against the restaurant’s windows to get a peek. Sometimes the event locations seemed arbitrary. Why a Chick-fil-A, which was founded in Georgia, instead of a locally-owned business? Another journalist speculated it was because of the widely-promoted Christian values of its founder, Truett Cathy. All the candidates were trying to woo the evangelical base, and nearly everyone at the event was caucasian.

Gingrich would beat Romney to win the South Carolina primary that evening. The victory party that night was restrained, though 1970s and 1980s rock-and-roll classics blared in the packed ballroom. There were a few brief speeches before Gingrich arrived to thank his supporters and attack Barack Obama. Most of the attendees left immediately after the speech was over. I asked where everyone was going and was told the private parties would continue deep into the night.

Peter van Agtmael is a photographer represented by Magnum. His work from Iraq won a World Press Photo award in 2007. More of his work can be seen here.

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FISH STICKS
FISH STICKS: A worker sorted fish in a cooler at the Muara Baru Fish Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday. (Zuma Press)

TAKING A MEETING
TAKING A MEETING: Donald Trump, left, smiled as Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spoke to the media in New York Monday. Mr. Gingrich praised Mr. Trump as a ‘true American icon’ and said he had persuaded Mr. Trump to mentor a group of children from the city’s poorest schools. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

AWAITING RESULTS
AWAITING RESULTS: People carried an injured woman at a demonstration in support of Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in Brussels Monday. With half the votes counted, President Joseph Kabila was ahead with 49% of the vote compared to 34% for Mr. Tshisekedi. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

EXPENSIVE ACCIDENT
EXPENSIVE ACCIDENT: Police officers investigated wrecked luxury cars at the site of a freeway pileup in Shimonoseki, Japan, Sunday. Eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes were involved in the accident during an outing of luxury sportscar enthusiasts. (Kyodo/Reuters)

AUSTERITY MEASURES
AUSTERITY MEASURES: Italy’s welfare minister, Elsa Fornero, started crying as she spoke during a press conference Sunday on the country’s new austerity package. Prime Minister Mario Monti and his government were outlining a new three-year, €30 billion ($40.17 billion) austerity plan. (Zuma Press)

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