Will Newt Gingrich be the next Irish Catholic president?---New Republican frontrunner heads Romney, Obama in poll match ups
By: Patrick Roberts | Published Friday, December 2, 2011, 11:00 AM | Updated Friday, December 2, 2011, 11:00 AM
Newt Gingrich has Irish roots and has visited the ancestral land looking for his Daugherty roots.
Now that he is suddenly the front runner for the Republican nomination, Gingrich will come under fierce scrutiny, but his Irish roots will surely be an advantage.
A Rasmussen Poll on Thursday had Gingrich easily leading Mitt Romney nationwide. It also showed he would beat President Obama in a match-up.
The fact that he is a converted Catholic would make him the second Irish Catholic in the White House , the other being JFK of course, if he won.
In 1998 Gingrich undertook a four day visit to Ireland North and South and visited the Inishowen section of Donegal where the Daugherty's came from. The name has various spellings there and is most commonly spelt as Doherty.
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The name means 'The destroyer' a description that might prove all to apt for Mitt Romney and the other Republicans who are suddenly finding themselves in his slipstream.
Gingrich reveled in the name when he on his Irish visit.
"I've got Scottish MacPherson's in the family tree and they were the last of the Highland clans to concede to the English" said at the time. "my rebelliousness has deep roots."
As Speaker Gingrich always stressed his Irish roots and was an ever present at the St.Patrick's Day celebrations as well as hosting a speaker's lunch for the Irish Prime Minister at the time.
The Daughertys came to America from Donegal and settled in Pennsylvania.
Gingrich was born Lutheran, became a Southern Baptist but has recently converted to Catholicism because of the influence of his wife Callista who is active in her church choir in Washington DC.
He is also a huge fan of Pope Benedict.
"The moment that finally convinced me [to convert] was when Benedict XVI came here [to the United States] and Callista in the church choir sang for him at the vespers service and all the bishops in the country were there. As a spouse, I got to sit in the upper church and I very briefly saw [Benedict] and I was just struck with how happy he was and how fundamentally different he was from the news media's portrait of him. This guy's not a Rottweiler. He's a very loving, engaged, happy person." he told US News and World report
Like Obama, Gingrich came from very poor beginnings. His mother was just 16 and his father 19 and they broke up soon after he was born.