I have pretty good recollections of those early 80s, in the heady days of the Reagan Revolution. One recollection is of a young group of conservative republicans, most of whom were swept into office in 1980 with Reagan’s coattails, who became increasingly vocal against and mutinous of both the old guard GOP and the heavy handed rule of Tip O’Neil. This group was called the “Young Turks”, they were my heros and their leader was a conservative congressman from Georgia — Newt Gingrich.
Now, Newt might have gone off the reservation at various times over the last few years, and deserves some criticism for this; but the people who today are trying to portray Newt Gingrich as an insignificant minor player in the 1980s are LYING. To any conservative who was paying attention to politics in the 1980s, Newt Gingrich, Phil Crane, Bob Dornan and, a little later, Dick Armey were all household names.
You're absolutely right, and I had just turned 18 in October, 1980 (my first vote was for Ronald Reagan). So even as a young person, I definitely remember Newt Gingrich. He was always on the news.