Next stop was the Capitol that he once dominated, where he had been invited to speak to newly elected House members. At the Capitol were reminders of the once-lofty role he played in the building. An elevator operator gave him an affectionate welcome. He huddled with a top aide to his successor as speaker, J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
But there also were reminders of his now-humbler status. Although he used to travel with a grand entourage, only his daughter, a press aide and a driver accompanied him. His balky cellphone needed to be replaced. He had worn a hole through the bottom of his shoe.
None of that mattered as he motored to a television appearance with evangelist Pat Robertson. En route, he got a senior White House advisor on the phone for a conversation, which he insisted be kept off the record. But he was not shy about detailing his other frequent contacts with administration honchos. In the course of one week, he said, he had lunch with Rumsfeld, conferred with Medicare chief Mark McClellan and met with National Security Council staffers.
Throughout the day, Lubbers received Blackberry messages from her younger sister who was in Atlanta monitoring how Gingrich's book was selling on Amazon. "We're No. 20!" Lubbers said.