I came across the expression, “People talk about the baggage,” and “[Presidential] candidates have lots of baggage” in Jay Bookman’s article titled “Gingrich, Palin have no shot at being GOP presidential nominee” at ajc.com. (Dec. 28. 2010).

What does baggage mean here? Is it political agenda or a promise?

By the way, we say “大風呂敷を広げる" or "spread a big Furoshiki" (A large square cloth for wrapping and carrying a bundle) in Japanese when referring to a politician who makes an empty promise to voters.

The part in question goes as follows:

Bill Kristol, the Fox News analyst and Weekly Standard editor, made a couple of predictions on Fox News Sunday about the GOP presidential race: “I think Newt Gingrich is underestimated. Newt is going to run and Newt will be formidable. People can talk about the baggage, but lots of candidates have had lots of baggage, and people think they’re the right guy for the job, he could do better — and I do think — than people expect.”

1 Answer 1


Baggage means things that hinder one's progress/ development.

It is commonly used as "emotional baggage": She had so much emotional baggage from her previous 8-year long relationship that she was unable to commit to her current boyfriend.

In your context, "baggage" is used to refer to moral indiscretions/ misdeeds. For Newt Gingrich, it refers to his extra-marital affairs.

  • @Stomstake. Thank you for your quick answer. I had no idea that baggage has such meaning as you explained, of which usage was never shown in conventional English Japanese dictionaries at hand. Besides, I didn’t know anything about Gingrich’s extra-marital affairs. I found my reference to ‘roll out Furoshiki’ was completely irrelevant to the subject. Mar 31, 2011 at 4:37
  • @Yoichi Oishi: You're welcome. I learnt something new too. "Roll out Furoshiki" is an interesting imagery in Japanese context.
    – stormscape
    Mar 31, 2011 at 13:49

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