Newt Gingrich Tears Up When Discussing His Mother

The show of emotion may help humanize the former House speaker and presidential candidate.

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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, known for his cerebral style and intellectual arguments, got teary-eyed and emotional when discussing his late mother during an appearance in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday afternoon.

Sitting before an audience that included a number of mothers, with a few children loudly crying in the background, Gingrich responded to questions from GOP pollster and consultant Frank Luntz. When Luntz asked Gingrich to reminisce about his mom, Gingrich told a few stories about how his mother, Kit, who died in 2003 at age 77, influenced and inspired him, and how she fought various illnesses at the end of her life.

[See pictures of the GOP Candidates Heading to the Iowa Caucus.]

This experience got him interested in issues of brain science and related matters, he said, because he was "dealing with the real problems of real people in my family." He added: "And so it's not a theory. It's in fact, my mother." At times, he dabbed at tears.

The scene was reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emotional response at a forum just before the 2008 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. Her unusual display of feelings helped humanize her before voters, and she won the state.

Gingrich's support has been dropping in Iowa, which holds the first nominating caucuses Tuesday. The former House speaker has been under increasing attack from his rivals and from independent groups supporting other candidates in the field.

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  • See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.