As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.
Newt Gingrich called his 1998 swing through Alaska’s North Slope “an eye-opening experience” that helped him better understand the challenges that environmental regulations pose to residents of the Last Frontier. “Don Young has been telling me for years—come to Alaska and see for yourself,” he said, of the state’s Republican congressman. “Seeing is believing!”
Crippling nanny state regulations weren’t the only revelation of the trip for Gingrich, though. He also participated in his first traditional blanket toss, an activity in which a tossee is tossed (by tossers) about 20 feet in the air—ostensibly so that they can look across the tundra for caribou, but mostly because it looks really, really fun:
Things didn’t go quite so smoothly for Gingrich, though. As Jack Hitt explained in MoJo later that year:
At an Eskimo blanket toss in Barrow, Alaska, when Gingrich insisted on having a turn, 15 Native Americans heaved-ho (for the love of God, have they not suffered enough?) to try to pop the enormous Gingrich off the blanket. An unidentified bystander observed, “He never really caught major air.”
Maybe it was symbolism. A little more than two months later, Gingrich announced that he was stepping down as speaker of the House.