DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Newt Gingrich choked up and wiped away tears Friday while recalling his late mother's struggle with depression and mental illness.
Speaking at an event with mothers in Des Moines, Iowa, the former House speaker said his focus on brain science issues stems directly from "dealing with the real problems of real people in my family."
"And so it's not a theory. It's, in fact, my mother," he said as he wiped away tears.
Kit Gingrich died in 2003 at age 77. Gingrich said she spent her final years in a long-term care facility suffering from depression, bipolar disease and gradually acquired physical ailments.
The moment was reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton's teary-eyed response to a question just before the 2008 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. That rare, emotional response by the former first lady was credited with humanizing her in the eyes of voters. She went on to pull off a win in the state.
After showing his emotions, the cerebral Gingrich said he does "policy much easier than he does personal."
His wife, Callista, and two daughters, were in the audience.
"Callista will tell you I get teary-eyed every time we sing Christmas carols," Gingrich said.
Gingrich has fallen in recent Iowa polls, with the state's caucuses just several days away. He is in the midst of a 22-stop bus tour across the state.