Jan 19, 2012

WASHINGTON — Dredging up a past that Newt Gingrich has worked hard to bury, the GOP presidential candidate’s second ex-wife says Gingrich asked for an “open marriage” in which he could have both a wife and a mistress.

In an interview with ABC News’ “Nightline” scheduled to air Thursday night, Marianne Gingrich said she refused to go along with the idea that she share her husband with Callista Bisek, who would later become his third wife.

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The explosive interview was airing just two days before the presidential primary in South Carolina, a state with a strong Christian conservative bent, and as Gingrich tries to present himself as the strongest alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney.

In excerpts of the interview released ahead the ABC broadcast, Marianne Gingrich said her husband conducted his affair with Callista “in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington” while she was elsewhere.

“He always called me at night and always ended with ‘I love you,’” she said. “Well, she was listening.”

Marianne Gingrich, who was Gingrich’s second wife, said Gingrich told her “Callista doesn’t care what I do.”

“He was asking to have an open marriage and I refused,” she said. “That is not a marriage.”

She also said Gingrich moved to divorce her just months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress,” she said. “He knew.”

Gingrich, asked by a voter Thursday about his past mistakes, said questions about his past life were inevitable but that he’d long since sought forgiveness. He said he expected attacks when he got into the race.

“We knew we would get beaten up,” he said while campaigning in Beaufort, S.C. “We knew we’d get lied about. We knew we’d get smeared. We knew there would be nasty ads and we decided the country was worth the pain.”

Earlier Thursday, in an interview on NBC’s “Today,” he was asked about his ex-wife’s interview and declined to speculate on how it would affect his campaign.

He said he wouldn’t “say anything bad” about his ex-wife and that he preferred not to address his personal life in detailed fashion. He added that members of his family had written ABC to protest the airing of the interview, saying they complained about the network “intruding into family things that are more than a decade old.”

Marianne Gingrich has said that Gingrich proposed to her before the divorce from his first wife was final in 1981; they were married six months later. Her marriage to Gingrich ended in divorce in 2000, and Gingrich has acknowledged he’d already taken up with Bisek, a former congressional aide.

The House speaker who pilloried President Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky was himself having an affair at the time.

As plans to air the interview were disclosed, Gingrich’s campaign released a statement from his two daughters from his first marriage, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman, suggesting that Marianne Gingrich’s comments may be suspect given the emotional toll that divorce takes on everyone involved.

“Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events. We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife,” they said. “He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.”

Gingrich has worked in recent years to present himself as changed man, offering himself in this campaign as a 68-year-old grandfather who has settled down with wife No. 3 and embraced God through Catholicism.

Last year, he said it would be up to voters to decide whether to hold his past against him.

“I think people have to look at me, ask tough questions, then render judgment,” he said then.

But he may not have been banking on his ex-wife, who has been silent so far in the 2012 campaign, to re-start that conversation.

In the NBC appearance, Gingrich said he planned to discuss “real stories,” and said he’d have to leave questions about his character up to voters. He called his daughters “credible” character witnesses.

A message seeking comment from Marianne Gingrich was not immediately returned.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Gingrich is trying to bully the press into not asking questions about his marital infidelities but the press should not allow itself to be bullied by Mr. Gingrich. These issues of marital infidelity are important for a number of reasons, most notably that elections are about votes and republican candidates in particular get millions of "value votes" based on the republican candidate's presumed proper family values. This means that by merely being a republican political candidate the candidate gets a measure of automatic acceptance from family values voters and that acceptance translates into votes, and I mean millions of votes. So the issue of marital infidelity is really about a large number of votes. Hence, since millions of votes hang in the balance the candidates should have to earn these votes by actually having the family values he/she is presumed to have. The voters who vote, even in part, on the basis of proper family values should be informed if one of the candidates promoting himself/herself as having proper family values truly does have proper family values. In short, if a political candidate can possibly get votes on the basis of a specific issue then that specific issue is a newsworthy issue whether the press choses to cover it or not. Remember, the new medias job when it comes to elections is to report news that matters to voters and since millions of family values voters are voting on the basis of a candidate's family values that means that a candidate's family values should be a newsworthy issue. Some candidates falsely promote themselves to have proper family values and voters who vote on the basis of proper family values have the right to know the true nature of the misleading candiates family values. These voters who vote on the basis of proper family values will be uninformed about the candidates true family values if the news media does not inform voters the true nature of the candidates family values. The segment of the electorate that votes on the basis of family values will vote on the basis of assumed/presumed notions about the candidates family values, rather than the true nature of the candidates family values, unless the news media does its' job and reports the true facts about the candidates family values. In other words, Newt Gingrich's marital infidelities are important news because his marital infidelities matters to many voters, and because many voters vote on the basis of issues like this. It doesn't matter if these voters should or shouldn't vote on the basis of this type of issue; it only matters that many of them do.