(WASHINGTON) — Newt Gingrich has been given a role at the Republican National Convention that he says he loves to play: professor. The RNC declared four days of courses — being labeled as “Newt University” — to be given by the former speaker of the House.
In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Gingrich said the role of professor is “who I am.”
“I believe in learning, which I love to do. I love to teach and I love to see people grow,” Gingrich said.
While running for president this year, Gingrich often went into “professor mode” while on the stump and was lauded for his knowledge on almost any subject during debates — sometimes even appearing to “school” the other candidates. He received several standing ovations for correcting debate moderators.
This week, starting on Monday, Gingrich will bring together a host of politicians and experts to discuss themes such as Medicare, small business, energy and “Obamacare.” Even Gingrich’s wife, Callista, will speak on a course about religious freedom.
Gingrich said that at Newt U, “No one is rejected.” And while most would think Gingrich would be a tough professor, he says history will be the toughest grader. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the goal will be to give attendees more than talking points on issues, but explain issues in depth, with history and background.
It was the Romney campaign that came up with the idea of Gingrich teaching courses on Republican issues. Though Gingrich had a reputation for speaking off the cuff during his campaign, Hammond said Gingrich does not have to adhere to specific RNC talking points.
“This isn’t about RNC talking points. This is about going out and empowering grassroots activists with the actual information behind the public policy, the history … how it is in public terms,” Hammond said.
The courses will also be offered online at NewtUniversity.com, where anyone can attend or watch archives.
Gingrich says he hopes his university at the RNC will continue for a long time and Hammond says there are plans to carry Newt U past the convention and throughout the year.
“It’s the beginning of a process that I think will go on for a number of years of trying to figure out how we talk about ideas beyond the 30-second sound byte or the nine-second sound byte or the 30-second commercial or even op-eds,” Gingrich said.
In another public role for the former House speaker, the RNC announced on Sunday that Gingrich and his wife will speak on Thursday night at the convention. Gingrich told ABC News they will speak together and introduce a special tribute to Ronald Reagan.
“They came to us and they said, we really need to recognize Ronald Reagan and to talk about his role and how the 1980 campaign reflects the 2012 campaign. Big decision campaign. Bad incumbent. Bad economy. Real choice,” Gingrich said. “We’re both delighted to have a chance to do it.”
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