Alter: Dodd, Dorgan, and Discontent in the Senate: It's worked before. In 1993 then–House majority leader Richard Gephardt paid a call on a Republican backbencher named Newt Gingrich. Gephardt said: "We have a health-care plan. What's yours?" Gingrich said, "Our plan is to defeat your plan and win the next election." Which is what happened in 1994...
In 1989, Newt Gingrich was chosen by his Republican House peers to be Minority Whip--that is, the deputy to the Minority Leader Robert Michel. Gingrich's predecessor in the job was Dick Cheney--who left the job to become Secretary of Defense.
It seems to me inappropriate to call Newt Gingrich in 1993 a "Republican backbencher": Newt Gingrich in 1993 was the fourth most powerful Republican in the country, and the heir apparent to the House Minority leadership.