Gingrich lugs loads of personal, political baggage

By NANCY BENAC | November 17, 2011 | 3:10 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Newt Gingrich's Republican presidential campaign gains momentum, he's lugging along trunkloads of personal and political baggage.

This week's news about Gingrich's sweetheart consulting deal with housing giant Freddie Mac is only the latest potential liability to surface for the former House speaker.

Negatives that didn't get much attention when Gingrich was an asterisk in the polls are getting a fresh look now that he's risen to the top tier of GOP presidential candidates. Among them: policy flip-flops, inopportune moments of candor, two failed marriages, admissions of adultery, fits of petulance and a tendency to suggest he's the smartest person in the room.

Gingrich seems resigned to what's ahead. And he says he's going to keep on an even keel no matter what.