Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) broke down and cried during a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday after he was asked a question about his mother.
Appearing at a forum in the state’s capital city, Gingrich took questions before an audience from Republican messaging strategist Frank Luntz, who got on the topic of the former speaker’s mother. Friday’s event was being staged by the non-partisan group CafeMom, and much of the audience was made up of females.
“I get teary-eyed everytime we sing Christmas carols,” Gingrich said as he began to cry. “My mother sang in the choir and loved singing in the choir. And I don’t know if I should admit this, but when I was very young she made me sing in the choir and we had pictures of me at a very young age singing in the choir.”
He explained that his mother, later in her life, developed a series of debilitating conditions that he had to cope with.
“I identify my mother with, uh, being happy, loving life, having a sense of joy in her friends,” he said, according to C-SPAN video from the event.
“But what she introduced me to is, late in her life, she ended up in a long-term care facility. She had bipolar disease and depression, and she gradually acquired some physical ailments. And that introduced me to the whole issue of quality long-term care. My whole emphasis on brain science comes in directly from dealing with, um…”
And at that point, Gingrich really began to cry, drawing a wave of sympathy from the mostly female audience. “See, now you’ve got me completely emotional,” he said moments later.
The incident is not the first time Gingrich has cried during a public event. At another campaign stop in Des Moines around Thanksgiving, Luntz got Gingrich teary-eyed as he recounted the tale of a friend whose child was born with a heart defect. Other prominent criers at the event included Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former motivational speaker Herman Cain.
This video is from CBS News, broadcast Dec. 30, 2011.