Journalism in the Public Interest

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Newt Gingrich and His Record

Newt Gingrich is struggling to make a political comeback after his spectacular fall a decade ago. Here’s some of the best coverage of his political career and record.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican candidate for president Newt Gingrich speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 16, 2011, in New Orleans, La. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

This is the latest installment in a series of reading guides on 2012 presidential candidates. Here are the other guides. This guide was most recently updated on November 30.

The basics:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich got off to a rocky start. He was behind most of the other presidential hopefuls in terms of fundraising, and his campaign staff also quit en masse earlier this year over concerns that Gingrich was not taking campaigning seriously.

But since then, Gingrich has been gaining in the polls—and with his new prominence has come increased scrutiny of his record.

Gingrich is perhaps best-known for his foibles, including his spectacular fall from power in the late 1990s. But he is also a bold ideologue who during his time as speaker in the late 1990s successfully pushed for reducing taxes and scaling back welfare.

Gingrich also holds some views that do not fit the conservative mold. He has partnered with Hillary Clinton to advocate health-care IT legislation, with Al Sharpton and Arne Duncan to promote President Barack Obama's education reforms, and with Nancy Pelosi in an ad stressing the importance of taking action on climate change.

Gingrich angered Republicans by criticizing Paul Ryan's plan to reform Medicare, prompting the American Conservative to accuse him of never really having been a conservative in the first place.

Background and views:

A self-described "ideas man," Gingrich is the author of 23 books. Weekly Standard Senior Editor Andrew Ferguson has a helpful summary of his oeuvre. The takeaways: Gingrich is fond of saying that the United States is at a crossroads and that technology will lead us away from catastrophe. His earlier books are filled with rapid-fire streams of ideas for bettering society, often without details about how to implement them.

"Gingrich's vagueness was always a problem," wrote Ferguson. "But the books show something more: a near-total lack of interest in the political implementation of his grand ideas—a lack of interest, finally, in politics at its most mundane and consequential level."

Gingrich has a Ph.D. in history, and told the New York Times in 2009 that he subscribed to the theory “that certain great leaders must endure a long political exile before returning to power.”

As the New York Times detailed, Gingrich has pushed to reinvent himself in part by putting a new emphasis on faith. He recently told supporters that he believes America is becoming too secular. Gingrich converted to Catholicism after marrying his third wife, Callista, in 2000. In a 2009 Weekly Standard opinion piece co-authored with Callista, Gingrich wrote that religion was key to the triumph of the capitalist West in the Cold War. In his words, "the spiritual nature of man and the freedom to know God were central to defining humanity and decisive in defeating tyranny."

Gingrich has been outspoken about his opposition to same-sex marriage. (An activist glitter-bombed him earlier this year to protest Gingrich's stance.)

He set himself apart from other Republican candidates in November by endorsing what he called a “humane” approach to illegal immigration, which would create a path to legal status for immigrants who have been in the U.S. for decades.

Record as congressman and House speaker:

Gingrich achieved the peak of his influence in the mid-1990s. In 1994, he co-authored the Contract With America, a Republican wish list of policy changes for the 104th Congress, and saw that the 10 bills it described were all put to a vote within the first 100 days of Congress.

Gingrich is also known for helping to push then-President Clinton to balance the budget for the first time since 1969. (It's worth noting, as does, that this was achieved in part through increased tax revenues.)

By some accounts, as we noted in our reading guide on Congressional dysfunction, Gingrich was also responsible for making Congress more partisan and more focused on fundraising.

According to former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards, Gingrich pushed his fellow Republicans to focus less on actually making laws and more on being “a champion of the Republican cause, constantly at war, defeating Democrats."

Time magazine named him Person of the Year in 1995, describing him as a man who "changed the center of gravity" in Washington and who has "transformed both the House of Representatives and the Speakership into unprecedented instruments of personal and political power."

As House speaker, Gingrich introduced three plans for welfare reform, the first two of which Clinton vetoed; the third became law.

The deeply controversial law helped drive a huge decline in welfare cases. A report from the Brookings Institution found that caseloads declined about 60 percent in the decade after the law was signed. But as USA Today has detailed, the results have not all been positive.

Gingrich's reign came crashing down in 1999, when he resigned as speaker after the midterm elections and was eventually reprimanded for an ethics violation, though, as we detail below, he was eventually cleared of charges related to it.

Scandals and controversy:

Gingrich was criticized for petty recalcitrance that resulted in longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. Though the shutdown occurred because of a disagreement about how to balance the budget, Gingrich said that Republicans were playing hardball in part because Bill Clinton had snubbed him during a trip to Israel for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.

The New York Post caricatured Gingrich as a baby throwing a tantrum, with the caption, "He closed down the government because Clinton made him sit at the back of the plane." In an interview with Time during the shutdown, Gingrich said, "My strength and my weakness is that I see normally impersonal events vividly and personally."

A few months later, Gingrich became the first speaker of the House to be disciplined for ethics violations. Gingrich was accused of violating tax law and providing the House with inaccurate information about how he financed his side projects. Eighty-three of the 84 ethics charges against him were later dropped, and the IRS ultimately cleared Gingrich of the final charge after he had resigned in 1999. If you want to dig into the details, the Washington Post has an archive of their probe coverage.

Gingrich is also known for having had a six-year affair with his now-wife, then-House staffer Callista Bisek, while he was married to his second wife, Marianne Ginther. Esquire has an interesting profile of Gingrich based on interviews with his second wife. Ginther describes how Gingrich told her about the affair right after giving speeches about family values, and says that he initially asked her if she could just tolerate the affair.

Gingrich admitted in 2007 that he was having the affair while he was pushing for President Clinton to be impeached over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gingrich and Callista have been married for 11 years, and as the New York Times detailed earlier this year, Callista plays a prominent role in his campaign.

Financial Ties to Freddie Mac:

On November 16, Bloomberg News reported that Gingrich had received between $1.6 and $1.8 million for his consulting services to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Republican presidential candidates—as well as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—have endorsed the myth that it was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s mandate from the government to extend more loans to low-income Americans that caused the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Gingrich himself said earlier this year that Barney Frank should be put in jail for his ties to a Freddie Mac lobbyist, and that President Obama should give back any donations his campaign received from Fannie or Freddie executives, the New York Times reported.

Gingrich, who did not immediately confirm exactly how much Freddie Mac had paid his consulting company, The Gingrich Group, said earlier this month that he had been acting as a “historian,” and that he warned Freddie about “making loans to people who have no credit history,” saying, “This is a bubble. This is insane.”

But Freddie Mac officials interviewed by Bloomberg and by the New York Times disputed this account, saying they had never heard Gingrich make that kind of warning.

Instead, the officials said, Gingrich advised Freddie Mac on how to craft its policy message to appeal to conservatives.

Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist, told Bloomberg that Gingrich consulted with executives about a program to expand home ownership, and how this plan could benefit Republicans, “particularly their relationship with Hispanics.”

“Freddie wasn’t spending $25,000 to $35,000 a month for years to have somebody give them history lessons,” one anonymous former official told the New York Times.

Both Gingrich and Delk said that Gingrich provided strategic advice, but did not do any lobbying for the company.

While Freddie and Fannie may not be responsible for the mortgage meltdown, they have a spotted history, currently owe taxpayers more than $180 billion in bailout funds, and continue to lose money.

What he's been up to since 1999:

The Wall Street Journal has a good rundown through the various businesses and fundraising gigs Gingrich has been involved in since leaving Congress. In 2007, Gingrich started American Solutions for Winning the Future, which raises money to advocate for a variety of conservative causes. Though the group shut its doors this summer in preparation for Gingrich's presidential run, he has kept access to the valuable network of 1.3 million potential supporters.

Gingrich also runs the Center for Health Transformation, a for-profit group whose members are health insurers and drug companies. According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies pay big membership fees, and "in return, they get access to Mr. Gingrich, interaction with other group members, and marketing and research support."

On November 29, the New York Times reported that Gingrich did not simply provide advice to the Center’s clients—he has also promoted their services to lawmakers.

Companies pay between $20,000 and $200,000 a year to belong to the center, and Gingrich has touted the center’s members in speeches to lawmakers, brochures, and at least one hearing. Gingrich has said repeatedly that he has never taken a position for money, but, the Times reported, “he and his staff did many of the same things that registered lobbyists do.”

In 2007, Gingrich and Callista co-founded Gingrich Productions, which churns out books and films. Their latest offerings are a book on American exceptionalism, a documentary on Pope John Paul II, and a best-selling children's book on American history by Callista. They've also produced films in conjunction with Citizens United, the nonprofit group at the heart of the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate spending in political elections.

Following the money: has a rundown of Gingrich's top campaign contributors. According to the New York Times' interactive guide to the 2012 candidates' fundraising efforts, as of September 2011, Gingrich had raised only $2.9 million, putting him behind well most of his competitors.

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 6, 2011, 3:08 p.m.

About two years ago Gingrich was on TV and with an angry looking face he said :

“This is a Christian movement”

So Newt joins many others in using God for political gain and setting an example exactly opposite of the love of Jesus.

Bush and Obama have done the same.

On Labor Day Obama was on TV saying “we make sure everyone gets the help that they need”

Obama often talks about his Christian values and during his Eulogy sermon he said we should :

“expand our moral imaginations”
“sharpen our instincts for empathy”

BUT Obama allows his campaign contributors at MetLife to ignore brain lesions, Multiple Sclerosis, cardiac conditions of many patients, and a foot a new mother broke in five places.

While Gingrich and Obama, and the Repub and Dem leaders promote their Christian values, they prove to be false prophets by allowing multiple insurance companies to engage in identical crimes in five different types of insurance as seen at

Gingrich and the leaders in Washington do prove the Bible to be true, but only by enabling such evil it must be of Biblical proportions !!

God please help us all !!

lolll…I’m disappointed; I rather assumed that when I clicked on the link in the ProPublica email for this story I’d get redirected to the Letters to Penthouse URL.

I don’t care if this guy remarries a hundred times or buys the crown jewels for his current wife. He was single-handedly responsible (not Willey) for using the Regan ‘Peace Dividend’ to create the USA’s 1st surplus since Andrew Jackson.
Want THE GUY to solve our current problems? Gingrich is it.
Of course the radical side of either persuasion is duplicitous in the lie of the moment. When Clinton was caught with minor intern, we were to ignore and not consider the character, only the (phantom) result.
Fast-forward and all-of-a-sudden shame on Newt!?
Shame on the hypocrites…Right or Left.

Dave Lushbaugh

Sep. 6, 2011, 4:44 p.m.

Newt has some brilliant ideas and we must be savvy enough to pick those out and dump the others.  Newt could probably come up with incentives to encourage more individual responsibility to the benefit of all.
We also must hold our noses at times just like with JFK, Clinton, etc.

The “Reagan” peace dividend?  Might as well give Reagan credit for inventing the telephone, too, since Reagan was also known to use that preexisting technology.

All Reagan did was hasten the collapse of an economic system that was designed to empower and enrich the few at the expense of the many (the exact same economic system our right - people such as Gingrich - are attempting to force us into.

Because of the nature of its goal - exploiting the many to enrich and empower the few - the economic system of the USSR was already doomed, and in fact had been decaying almost since inception.  If it weren’t for people like the ultra-right-wing Koch brothers’ family propping the Bolsheviks up by building them an oil industry, it would have failed long before Reagan.

I agree with Scott, Newt is the only one out of all these candidates that has the intellectual capacity to bring us back to the forefront of being a prosperous Nation. This article is an utter disgrace. What a joke!! More typical Newt bashing. Blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah!

Personally, I can’t imagine voting for anybody who has ever stood with vermin like Al Sharpton.  Other than Jesse “no, really, that’s totally MLK’s blood” Jackson, I can’t think of a more intentionally and viciously devisive man out for his own benefit.

And Scott, that “budget surplus” came from raising the Social Security tax to cope with the aging Baby Boomers.  Then Clinton declared it part of the general budget and spent it, leaving us with a bunch of retiring folks who want their money back.

Newt might have been there, but I’m not sure I’d call it a “win.”

Dave, give yourself a gold star.  That’s the way to do this, build an economy of ideas, rather than an economy of ideologies.

@John - re:  “Then Clinton declared it part of the general budget and spent it…”

Always pays to check your facts…at least, if you care about the truth.  There are numerous variations of that myth - propaganda, rather - that you spread above.  See

I particularly admire the chain letter that is incorporated into the link I posted; it is periodically revised and recirculated again.

Me, I think the right/Republicans/Tea Party/Libertarians are simply telling the truth when they say they want to invest the Social Security monies into the stock market; they cannot steal those monies now as they’re invested by law “in securities backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal government”.

That’s the point where the Congress shafts the American people; they loan those funds to themselves for use in other programs…defense and foreign aid, for example.

But if the right/Republicans/Tea Party/Libertarians can force those funds to be invested in the stock market rather than in Treasury securities, why they’ll be able to steal them with the same ferocity and predictability with which the 401Ks of the American middle class are looted.

Careful, Steve, you’re attributing far more to my statement than I said.

Reagan signed a Social Security tax increase into law in 1983 to account for Baby Boomers.  That, and the pathetic dot-com bubble leading to higher tax revenues, led Clinton to announce a balanced budget, claiming the deficit was offset by the tax increase early in his term.

But that math only works if Social Security is part of the “general fund,” for lack of a better term, and isn’t generally considered so, simply because it’s pre-spent.  When Gore was on the campaign trail that is, I believe, what he was talking about with his “lock box”—preventing future Presidents from taking Clinton’s approach as gospel and spending the Social Security money.

As far as I can tell, all those facts are supported by your Snopes link (for whatever they’re worth), so I can only assume that my two sentences carried some odd subtext I’m not aware of.

As for investing it all in the stock market, I think it’s abundantly clear why:  More money invested in Wall Street means that stocks (they already own) go up, and it means more commissions for bankers.  I’ll also accept that it creates a class of government employees “in the know” as to where the fund will be invested next and would have no SEC oversight.

(Of course, I tend to see retirement in today’s climate as a scam to slow down the economy.  I know quite a few men and women in their 80s who could be contributing to somebody’s bottom line, but instead they’re suckered with their own money into wasting away as consumers, tricked into thinking they’ve “earned” a life of staring at the walls.)

Stephanie Palmer

Sep. 8, 2011, 2:25 p.m.

While I know that anyone running for president must have a huge ego, some of them are justified. Gingrich’s ego is not justified in any way. The man is akin to a lizard, one that slithers on the ground, maybe underneath your porch.

@John:  Perhaps the reader might better be able to comprehend your claims re the budget was balanced only with the inclusion of Social Security withholding if you were to document them?

That is, provide the links to “the real numbers” which you analyzed before arriving at your conclusion?  A conclusion I don’t hear even the talking heads of the Republicans force-feeding the public - and I probably don’t have to say they never miss a shot to attack anything that is not of the right…

@John - by the way…if it gives you or any of the rest of the American people any comfort, the effort by American financiers and Wall Street types to destroy social security is a global one.

For instance, Morgan Stanley puts out lots of propaganda about Japan’s social security system.  See:

In section #3 (“The Social Security Contradiction”) you will find the sentence “Moreover, the allocation of spending skewed toward the elderly is becoming more unpopular with younger voters.”

lolll…given that I saw a Morgan Stanley rep on CNN’s “Worldwide Business” saying that the Japan’s kids were being cheated to support the elderly only about an hour ago, it isn’t hard to either derive what and who is driving that sentiment (assuming it actually exists) or to project that the use of that tactic will be stepped up in America…

Perhaps spreading even beyond Texas Republicans, who are not just Big Oil’s but high finance in America’s “go to” guys (if the mortgage-backed securities pyramid scam that was launched by Bush didn’t make that painfully obvious, then Perry’s recent description of Social Security as “a Ponzi scheme” should have).

Turning young against old fits in nicely with the right’s ever-present strategy of “Divide, and conquer.”.

And your last paragraph?  Perhaps it is my eyesight, but I seem to be able to read “People in their 80s should be making somebody else money rather than being nothing but ‘entitlement spending’!!!” between the lines.

‘Course, if we eliminated Social Security we wouldn’t have a problem with masses of 80-year-olds functioning only as “entitlement spending” (or enjoying their sunset years, if you prefer to look at it that way).

In what the right calls “a friendly labor market” (i.e., periods of high unemployment), the kind of people who are the right rise to the top of the food chain in business.  During such times, competence is discarded as a prerequisite for promotion; instead, skills such as brown-nosing (although we call it “networking” now) and characteristics such as amorality (if not sadism) become the markers of those on the promotion ladder.

They won’t have any problem with making the work environment so stressful that, sans the thought of “Only X more years, and I can retire!”, people will up and die on their feet long before they reach 80.

Probably see the lifespan of the non-wealthy drop back to the levels of the 19th and early 20th centuries…back when America was Republican nirvana.

But since we’re talking devolution towards harsher times rather than evolution towards an ever more civilized and educated society, it will also signal that America is approaching her end times.

Steve, since apparently I need a big sign around my neck that says “I didn’t vote for Bush,” what I meant was that Social Security was created for a time when “old” people couldn’t work and their familes couldn’t (or wouldn’t) support them.  The latter is still disturbingly true, but I think we’re all happy that the former hasn’t been in a long while.

People can function well beyond retirement age, today, and what stops them is retirement age and that the government forced them to save money through their careers, which they can’t have until they stop working.

At the other end, we guilt every kid we can into going to college and not working as long as they can.  “Everybody” has a BA or (appropriately) BS degree, so now we have the push to get everybody in graduate school.

People could be contributing to society (their own businesses, if they have the passion for it, someone else’s for the majority who apparently don’t) from their teens for sixty years or more, in many cases, but we halve that.  We tell the kids to just sit back and let Mom and Dad buy you stuff until you hit thirty, then we send the sixty year olds out to pasture with barely enough money to eat.

And then we wonder why the economy is in the toilet:  Couldn’t be because we exclude two thirds of people’s lives, the times when they’re the most creative and the times when they have the most experience, and we force them to shut up and just buy things.

And then we wonder why kids are fat and the elderly need fistfuls of drugs to breathe or remember their own names:  Couldn’t be that we exclude them almost from society itself, and claim that we’re doing them a favor as they waste away mentally and physically.  It’s civilized, to use your word, to hide them away in homes.  We won’t let you teach your successors or design products to help people, but we’ll make sure you have HDTV and Viagra.  Sure, sounds completely civilized to me.

After all, all the research totally shows that spending your life on your couch with nothing to do will produce a better quality of life, right…?  Keeping an active mind is worthless, or at least not useful enough to warrant more involvement than playing Sudoku.  Better to imagine all the places you can’t afford to travel to.

Please note, since you’ve accused me of saying so without any evidence that I can see, that this isn’t related to getting rid of Social Security.  Safety nets are fine, but keeping the experts in the workplace is far more valuable to the experts and society at large.

Personally, I’d much rather see “retirement” distributed throughout life.  Take a year or two off now, if you hate your job.  Get your crap together on the Social Security dime, rather than leaving the company at 65 to die as if age itself was a disability to all people in all fields.


1)  You seem to have unintentionally overlooked providing your source for the data that lead you to conclude Clinton swiped Social Security funds to provide the appearance of a balanced budget

2)  Wordy way to say that you want to take Social Security out of the government’s hands and place those funds into private hands.  Who then would, apparently, permit the individual to squander their contributions as they will pre-retirement while those private hands, no doubt, charge fees for both the “management” (a great exaggeration, that) of those funds and their every premature withdrawal. 

And to account for your use of the word “forced”, you want to make it all voluntary.

Which I would summarize as you want to destroy the existing Social Security system and replace it with a 401K-style system…which would increase the rate of wealth transfer from the American middle class to the wealthy few who now routinely (like this week) pilfer the existing 401Ks….and greatly increase the income of Wall Street’s brokers and fund managers, of course.

Yet you didn’t vote for Bush?  lollll…perchance was Steve Forbes your man?

Steve, I’m not obligated to jump through your hoops to verify my beliefs or to prove, y’know, facts.  The very link you cited says how Clinton arrived at his balanced budget.  If you can’t read it there, my posting it again won’t help you.

Otherwise, you’re intentionally misreading me and putting words into my mouth to defend against the straw man.  So, you’re intellectually corrupt enough that it’s really not worth bothering with you.  You have some good ideas, but everything else is, “you disagree with me a tiny bit, so you must be a fascist.”

To be clear, and try to be polite:  I absolutely don’t support privatization of Social Security, and your intellect must be truly dazzling (are you a Sicilian with death on the line, perhaps?) to have read that into what I said.  What I said was that Social Security payments should be reserved for elderly people who can’t work, not for sending them out to pasture so that we don’t see any gray hair at the office.

Interesting that you claim to be for the “little guy,” but I guess it makes more sense for a woman to take leave and/or quit her job to raise a family rather than take a year of “retirement.”  It makes more sense to force someone to stay at a job he hates until he retires with ulcers, rather than “retire” for two years to go back to school and learn something more enjoyable.  It also makes more sense to lock a seventy-year-old man in a home, rather than let him use his hard-won experience and insight.

Of course, you link that to some cyberpunk future where companies rule the world, so the current approach must be much better for everybody.

Personally, I think it’s beneath you, but if you’d rather play polarization games and believe you’re the only one who sees the truth, it’s your right to ignore reality.  But it’s a shame, because the world could use more people like you.

Since you apparently won’t, I’d recommend you ignore all this and go back to bowing down to Clinton, who totally wasn’t involved with Iran-Contra, Whitewater, selling secrets to China, or any other problems.  I’m sure he’s a man of the people, and I’m just a misguided Nazi or something.  Stand up for Obama, who’s doing everything Bush did during his Presidency and then some.

And, since you’ve asked, I’ve exclusively voted for local candidates who had no chance of winning nationally, but at least showed some semblance of interest in solving problems.  I’ve never voted for a major-party candidate because I see the party-based system as the single biggest problem in this country and will not participate in a “lesser of two evils” contest.

I wouldn’t expect you to understand that, since you’ve fallen for the idea that all questions have exactly two possible answers and that they’re only worth considering if a large company (like a political party) puts money into advertising it nationally.  It’s OK.  It’s only a football game, so as long as your team wins and the team color covers the map, it’s not like it has a bearing on the future.


1)  Re:  “Steve, I’m not obligated to jump through your hoops to verify my beliefs or to prove, y’know, facts.”

No, you’re not…and it would be difficult to do anyway, since the former seems to be unaffected by the presence or absence of the latter. 

But I, on the other hand, feel obligated to tell the public the truth when I see somebody telling them a whopper like:

that “budget surplus” came from raising the Social Security tax to cope with the aging Baby Boomers.  Then Clinton declared it part of the general budget and spent it
[end quote]

WHAT a whopper!

2)  Re:  “The very link you cited says how Clinton arrived at his balanced budget.”

Really?  I can’t find anything in that document to support your spurious claim that Clinton put the Social Security withholdings of the American people into “the general fund and spent it”.  That - as you well know - implies that Clinton “stole” those funds; a permanent and irrevocable act. 

Clinton and the Congresses (Democrats and Republicans) in session during his term - like every President and Congress since they went crooked post-OPEC/post-corrupting influence of Big Oil’s money - may have borrowed money from the government…borrowed, so the Federal government is still obligated to pay, so the money is still there.

Unless you’re saying that every U.S. Treasury savings bond held by the American people is worthless

But that has nothing to do with “a balanced budget” - that is, a budget wherein revenue from taxes etc. match or exceed expenditures.  That is what Clinton gave America…that is what Clinton gave Bush and the Republicans…that is what Bush and the Republicans destroyed

That is where the Republicans shaft America, for Republicans are ever lowering the taxes the wealthy pay while ever raising the amount spent on servicing the desires of the wealthy..and their wars.

I suggest we end this conversation.  Enough has been transcribed for the reader to see the need to verify and validate anything they read on the web….to include - and perhaps especially - that which may be described as propaganda concealed within a superabundance of verbiage.

(This conversation is killing me…you see, I hate Clinton.  He not only championed inequitable free trade - a primary factor in America’s current decay - but collaborated with the Republicans on deregulation…making any investment in the stock market gambling, and anything held by the American middle class that can be reached from Wall Street…forfeit.

But I don’t like…whoppers.)

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