Tony Blankley, who served as aide and press secretary for Newt Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House before joining the press corps as The Washington Times editorial page editor, has died at age 63 of stomach cancer in Washington, D.C.
Blankley served as Gingrich's spokesman and adviser from 1990 to 1997, and became known in America as a conservative pundit and columnist, providing political commentary for CNN, NBC and NPR as well as a noted author and visiting senior fellow in national security communications at the Heritage Foundation, according to Fox News.
'Newt is a tad like Gandhi.'
Before he worked for Gingrich, now a candidate in the Republican primaries, he spent six years in the Reagan administration (switching parties after being a longtime Democrat), where he worked as a speechwriter and senior policy analyst.
When he worked with the former House Speaker, Blankley made waves for comparing Newt Gingrich, somewhat jokingly, to such iconic figures as Charles De Gualle, Winston Churchill and Mohandas Gandhi.
“Newt is a tad like Gandhi,” he said, “a combination of visionary and practical tactician not often seen in politics. But obviously, Gandhi dressed better.”
Outside his noted political life, the former aide was also a respected prosecutor for ten years with the California attorney general's office. He was also, in his younger years, an actor, working as a child star in Hollywood in the 1950s through appearances in shows like Lassie and Highway Patrol and starring as Rod Steiger's son in the movie The Harder They Fall.
Frank Duggan, a friend of Tony Blankley, shared his perspective on his old friend's life to The Daily Caller. I love the term 'puckish,' which he used but could readily be applied to him, Duggan said of the naturalized American, who retained a faint British accent much of his life. He was a gentleman.
'Tony was a very special person.'
Newt Gingrich, campaigning in North Hampshire, called Blankley a caring and loving person while at a town hall meeting at Don Quijote restaurant in Manchester, N.H. Gingrich said he first heard of Blankley's death from his widow Lynda Davis on Sunday morning.
In 1996, he Los Angeles Times published an article calling Blankley The Speaker's Speaker and dubbed him one of the most successful press secretaries in Washington.
Tony grew up with a deep passion and commitment, that I think he got from his dad, for freedom, said Gingrich.
Tony was a very special person, Gingrich continued. Everybody in our alumni who heard about it felt something in their hearts because he was more than a great professional. He was a great human being.
He was a caring and loving person. He was a tremendous amount of fun. Remarkably erudite and educated, and we will all miss him deeply.
Below, watch Newt Gingrich as he shares his condolences with the conservative's friends and family and remembers The Speaker's Speaker Tony Blankley.
Newt Gingrich Comments on Tony Blankley's Death at 62: