Daniel Doherty

The Gingrich campaign has released a short new documentary chronicling the former Speaker’s childhood, rise to prominence, and -- perhaps most importantly -- the factors that compelled him to run for president in 2012. The film, which lasts about 16 minutes, casts a different light on the candidate and includes some fascinating new information about his humble beginnings and family life.

Most of all, however, I was struck by what sparked his initial interest in running for political office. Living in Europe as a young man, he recounts how his visit to Verdun – the French battlefield where more than 600,000 men perished during the First World War – became one of the most transformative experiences of his life.

“By comparison," he said, "that’s the total dead in the entire American Civil War in four years. And you just had this sense that this stuff's all real – that countries can die and that bad leadership can be disastrous. And so, I spent the summer thinking and praying about it, and I decided in August 1958 that I would spend my life on three things: What do we need to do in order to survive as a free country, how would you explain it to the American people so they’d give you permission, and how would you actually implement it if they gave you permission.”


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography