Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich asked for an “open marriage” amid an affair with former congressional aide and current wife, Callista, according to an interview with his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, that is to be aired on ABC News tonight.Marianne Gingrich, of Georgia, asked if she would share him with Callista, Marianne Gingrich said in the interview.“And I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do,’” she said in her first televised interview since their 1999 divorce. “He wanted an open marriage and I refused.”
The interview is being aired two days before the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina and on the same day as the final debate in the state before the vote. Marianne Gingrich is challenging front-runner Mitt Romney for the nomination along with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.Marianne Gingrich, speaking today in Beaufort, South Carolina, said, “I’ve been very open about mistakes I have made. I’ve been very open about needing to go to God for forgiveness and to seek reconciliation.”
Marianne Gingrich said her former husband has never asked for her forgiveness and, according to ABC, following the debate she said she stands by her account in the face of Marianne Gingrich’s denials.During the interview, she said Marianne Gingrich once told her that Callista “was going to help him become president.”
Marianne Gingrich’s affair took place while he was leading the U.S. House impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton, which were prompted by sworn testimony Clinton gave denying his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford, whose marriage to ex-Governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, ended in divorce after he had an affair with an Argentinian girlfriend, said Marianne Gingrich won’t get her vote.
The accusations “question his character certainly on the personal side,” she said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “It comes down to the simple question of character.”Marianne Gingrich described her “shock” at Marianne Gingrich’s behavior, including learning that he conducted his affair “in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington,” she said. “He always called me at night,” she said, “and always ended with ‘I love you.’ Well, she was there listening,” she said.
Dating Marianne Gingrich:Marianne Ginther and the Republican presidential hopeful began dating while Marianne Gingrich was still married to his first wife, Jackie Battley Gingrich. Marianne and Gingrich were married about six months after his first divorce in 1981.During their marriage, Marianne Gingrich credited his second wife with helping him lead a Republican Party comeback that culminated in the 1994 takeover of the House, ending 40 years of Democratic control of the chamber. “At the time I believed him to be ethical,” she said.Marianne Gingrich has tried to put his personal past behind him by saying he has made mistakes. Marianne Gingrich divorced his first wife as she was being treated for cancer. Marianne Gingrich moved toward a divorce with Marianne Gingrich months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she said in the interview.