"He can be mercurial, he can be a whirling dervish, and people get frustrated"

On the other hand, the man who ultimately showed Gingrich the door in 1998 has come around. Lawmaker-turned-lobbyist Bob Livingston, the Louisiana congressman who was chosen to succeed Gingrich but instead confessed on the House floor to adultery and resigned, co-hosted a fundraiser for his former colleague this week.

“He can be mercurial, he can be a whirling dervish, and people get frustrated sometimes when he’s not talking at their level. I can push all that aside and say, ‘How did he perform in those years, regardless of the furor — what did he produce?’ ” Livingston said.

Livingston and others note that Gingrich’s legacy includes welfare reform, balancing the budget and, of course, forging a path to a GOP majority in the House.