Newt Gingrich - Marital Affairs
Congressman Newt Gingrich has been married three times. His first and second marriages ended because he began relationships with the women who would later become his second and third wives. He has been accused of having multiple additional affairs. While Congressman Gingrich was leading this private lifestyle, he publicly campaigned on family values, publicly shamed other representatives who were caught in similar behavior, and led the charge to impeach President Clinton for matters relating to his affairs.
Newt began a relationship with his first wife, Jackie, when he was 16 and she was his geometry teacher. He married her after high school, they had children shortly thereafter, and were married for roughly 18 years. During that time Jackie supported Newt while in College and during two unsuccessful Congressional campaigns. His campaign staff has stated that Newt carried out multiple affairs during this time. After a successful 1978 campaign, Congressman Gingrich moved to D.C..
In 1980, Newt began a relationship with a woman he met at a political fundraiser, Marianne. Newt divorced Jackie in February of 1981 and married Marianne in August. Congressman Gingrich was accused of negotiating divorce details while his wife was recovering from surgery, and then refusing to pay child support and alimony to speed up the divorce process.
Although she was active in his political career, Newt separated from his second wife (Marianne) around 1988 and then reconciled around 1994. At that time, Congressman Gingrich became Speaker of the House and began a relationship with a congressional intern named Calista. After a six year affair, Congressman Gingrich divorced his second wife and months later married Calista in 2000. Newt was 57 and Calista was 34. During the divorce proceedings, Congressman Gingrich refused to participate in the discovery process and finally claimed that he and Marianne had an "understanding" about his affairs. Marianne denied this claim, and in a subsequent interview stated that she could end Newt's political career in a single interview.
At the end of both his marriages, Congressman Gingrich proposed to his new wife before asking his current wife for a divorce. Marianne stated that this was very telling of Congressman Gingrich's character. Before marrying Calista, Congressman Gingrich asked the Catholic Church to annul his 18 year marriage to Marianne.
There have been numerous accussations of additional affairs during all phases of Congressman Gingrich's life, including a woman who claimed she had a relationship in the 1970's with Gingrich before he was a Congressman. Strangley enough, this woman states that Gingrich sought oral sex only so that he could later deny sexual relations if they were discovered. This was the same tactic used by President Clinton when he was accused of adultery.
As Speaker of the House, Congressman Gingrich led the charge to impeach President Clinton. He has acknowledged that while he was doing this, he was carrying out an affair with his current wife. When asked about the hypocrisy of these actions, he has noted that President Clinton committed perjury to cover the affair and this was what he was impeached for and not the affair itself.
However, in 1983 Congressman Gingrich made speeches in response to the affairs of other Congressional members lamenting the moral decline of leadership in America and claiming that the country cannot remain free without moral leaders.
After making plans to run for the Presidency in 2012, Congressman Gingrich stated that his work ethic and love of country caused him to work too much and led to his affairs, by stating that he loved his country too much. He acknowledged that his behavior was wrong and that he knew it was wrong when he was doing it.
Days before the South Carolina primary, Speaker Gingrich's second wife was interview by NightLine and stated that when she confronted Newt about his affair with Calista, he confirmed that he had indeed spoke to Marianne on the phone each night from Washington with Calista in the room with him. She also stated that Newt asked her for an open marriage and to allow the affair with Calista to continue. She stated that she denied the request.
The next day, Congressman Gingrich was asked about the interview in a CNN debate. He forcefullly rebuked the moderator for asking such a question in a Presidential debate and stated that the media was covering for President Obama by attacking each Republican candidate.
The timeline below shows Congressman Gingrich's time in office compared to his relationships with his wives. The lighter color represents when Congressman Gingrich began his relationship with his spouse and the darker color represents the time they were/are married. The time that Congressman Gingrich was Speaker of the House is denoted in a darker color.
At the age of 16, Newt Gingrich began to have an affair with his geometry teacher, Jackie Battley. Some reports indicate that Jackie was nine years older than Newt, while other state that there was seven years difference between the two. Newt and Jackie would meet in secret and largely hid their relationship while Newt was still in High school.
On June 19, 1962 Newt and Jackie were married. Newt was 19 years old and Jackie was 26-28. Newt was a Freshman in College and his parents boycotted the wedding in protest to the age difference. Jackie supported Newt through his college education, including his PhD in History. The couple had two daughters, one in 1963 and the other in 1966.
Jackie had undergone surgery for cancer of the uterus during the 1978 campaign. After the couple separated in 1980, she had to be operated on again to remove another tumor. According to Lee Howell, Newt's Press Secretary in 1974 and 1976, and L.H. "Kip" Carter, who was Newt's Campaign Treasurer in 1974 and 1976, Newt brought his two daughters to visit their mother in the hospital and brought a legal pad to discuss some terms of the divorce. Jackie got angry and not long after than, Newt stopped paying child support. The couple was divorced in February of 1981. The story is recounted in teh PBS documentary "The Long March of Newt Gingrich."
When asked about the situation, Jackie described the situation similarly, but did not mention any legal pad. She asserted that the divorce was mostly a surprise to her.
He can say that we had been talking about [a divorce] for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise. He's a great wordsmith ... He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery ... To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.
The story was first reported in a 1984 Mother Jones article that was widely circulated among Newt's opponents and used against him during subsequent campaigns. When asked about the validity of the story, Newt claimed that he had been seeking a divorce for 10 years and that he did what was necessary to finally end the marriage.
All I can say is when you've been talking about divorce for 11 years and you've gone to a marriage counselor, and the other person doesn't want the divorce, I'm not sure there is any sensitive way to handle it.
Anne Manning was a volunteer on Newt Gingrich's unsuccessful 1976 campaign for congressional office. At the time, she was married to a professor at West Georgia who was a colleague of Professor Gingrich, Tim Chowns. In the spring of 1977, she was in Washington to attend a census-bureaus workshop when Gingrich took her to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. He met her back at her hotel room.
I did have a relationship with him, but when it suited him, he would totally blow you off. ...
We had oral sex ...He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, "I never slept with her." (Before leaving he said) "If you ever tell anybody about this, I'll say you're lying."
Kip Carter, who lived a few doors down from Newt and his wife in 1976, claimed to have come across Newt and either Anne or another woman engaged in oral sex in a car.
We had been out working a football game --I think it was the Bowdon game-- and we would split up. It was a Friday night. I had Newt's daughters, Jackie Sue and Kathy, with me. We were all supposed to meet back at this professor's house. It was a milk-and-cookies kind of shakedown thing, buck up the troops. I was cutting across the yard to go up the driveway. There was a car there. As I got to the car, I saw Newt in the passenger seat and one of the guys' wives with her head in his lap going up and down. Newt kind of turned and gave me his little-boy smile. Fortunately, Jackie Sue and Kathy were a lot younger and shorter then.
Congressman Newt Gingrich met met Marianne Ginther, the 28-year-old daughter of an Ohio mayor in January of 1980. Congressman Gingrich was 36 at the time. The met at a political fundraiser and began to have a relationship months before Congressman Gingrich separated from his first wife. They spoke often on the phone while Congressman Gingrich was still married, and he told her that he and wife were in counseling and would most likely divorce. That summer, after Newt and Jackie's divorce was final, Marianne went to Washington to visit him. Soon afterward he introduced her to his mother and stepfather.
They were thrilled because they hadn't wanted Newt to marry [Jackie]. I think his stepdad wanted to be able to say, 'Look, we always knew this wasn't going to work.'
Newt and Marriance were married on August 8, 1981, six months after the divorce was final between Newt and Jackie.
In 1987, the couple separated. Newt claimed that he received a phone call on his birthday from his wife declaring that she was leaving. When he got home, he found only the guest bed and a TV. Newt and Marianne maintained separate residences for 6 years and worked out a separation agreement that was notarized, but never filed. In late 1993 or early 1994 the two reconciled and moved back in together. Marianne and Newt separated again on May 10, 1999 and Newt filed for divorce on July 29, 1999. In May 2002, Newt asked the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta for an annulment based on the fact that Marianne was reportedly previously married.
Marianne Gingrich had been diagnosed with possibly having MS months before Newt filed for the divorce. During the court proceedings, Congressman Gingrich refused to participate in the discovery process so that he would not have to disclose any funds that he spent on potential mistresses. Recent news stories had claimed that Congressman Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer. Eventually, Congressman Gingrich's own lawyer agreed to depose the woman with whom Gingrich was rumored to be having an affair. Congressman Gingrich's lawyer then stated that Speaker Gingrich had been having a six year affair with Callista Bisek, a staffer.
In response to this announcement, Congressman Gingrich stated that he and Marianne had an agreement of sorts with the affair. Marianne denied any such agreement, but did state that her husband had tried to convince her to be more acceptive of the situation. The divorce was eventually settled.
When speaking about their relationship in an interview weeks later, Marianne Gingrich stated that she should have been clued in that something was wrong when he asked her to marry him so quickly. She notes that the same thing was done to her; Newt proposed to his third wife before asking his second for a divorce just as he had proposed to the second without asked the first wife for a divorce.
He was impressed easily by position, status, money. He grew up poor and always wanted to be somebody, to make a difference, to prove himself, you know. He has to be historic to justify his life. ...
He asked me to marry him way too early. And he wasn't divorced yet. I should have known there was a problem. ...
It's not so much a compliment to me. It tells you a little bit about him.
For years prior to his divorce from Marianna, Congressman Gingrich had been seen at breakfast with a young Congressional staffer. Although he initially denied the affair, the discovery process in his second divorce forced him to admit that he had been carrying on a 6 year affair with Callista Bisek. Newt and Callista were married on August 18, 2000. Newt was 57 at the time and Callista was 34.
Comments on other Congressional Affairs
In July of 1983, Gingrich made a name for himself in the House by demanding that Representatives Daniel Crane and Gerry Studds be expelled for having affairs with House pages. Among the statements that Congressman Gingrich made about the affairs were the following:
A free country must have honest leaders if it is to remain free. We are in deep trouble as a society... People are looking for a guidepost as to how they should live, how their institutions should behave, and who they should follow.
Our decisions are not made today about two individuals; our decisions are made today about the integrity of freedom, about belief in our leaders, about the future of this country, about what we should become.
I would say to you unequivocally—it will probably sound pious and sanctimonious saying it—I am a sinner. I am a normal person. I am like everyone else I ever met. One of the reasons I go to God is that I ain't very good—I'm not perfect.
Focus on the Family Interview
In March of 2007, Congressman Gingrich was interviewed by James Dobson for Focus on the Family. This was the first time that Congressman Gingrich publically admitted to having an affair.
Congressman Gingrich also acknowledged that he was having an affair while pursuing an impeachment of President Clinton for similar transgressions. Congressman Gingrich stated that President Clinton was being impeached because he committed perjury and not because of the affiar with Mrs Lewinsky.
The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge.
The standard is: In a court of law should somebody who's popular get away with perjury? And I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept felonies and you cannot accept perjury in your highest officials.
When asked about his role in impeaching President Clinton while carrying out an affair, Congressman Gingrich noted in 2011 that President Clinton committed perjury.
Christian Broadcast Network Interview
In March of 2011 Congressman Gingrich was interviewed by the Christian Broadcast Network at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and spoke about his past marital indesrections. He seemed to make statements indicating that his passions for the country caused him to work too much and this led to his infidelity.
Marianne Gingrich Interview
In January of 2012, Newt Gingrich's second wife, Marianne Gingrich granted an interview to ABC which took place three days before the South Carolina Primary. In that interview, Marianne confirmed that Newt was cheating with Calista for six years prior to her divorce. She stated that he confirmed to her that he had called her at home each night from Washington while Calista was in the room with him and told her that he loved her.
The major accusation of the interview was that when Marianne confronted Newt about the affair, he asked her for an open marriage and to simply allow the affair to continue. She stated that she refused this request. The news story alsoconfirmed that Newt left his first wife shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer and that he left her shortly after she was diagnosed with MS.
Marriane: I said to him: Newt, we've been married a long time ... and he said, Yes, but you want me all to yourself. Calista doesn't care what I do.
Nightline: What was he saying to you, do you think?
Marianne: He was asking to have an open marriage and I refused.
Nightline: He wanted an open marriage?
Marriane: Yea, that I accept the fact that he had somebody else in his life.
Nightline: and you said?
Marianne: No, no, that is not a marriage.
The day following the Nightline interview with Marianne, CNN hosted a Republican debate. The first question in that debate was directed towards Speaker Gingrich and asked if he wished to respond to the allegations of the interview. Speaker Gingrich lambasted John King for asking such a question in a Presidential debate and was widely applauded.
 Website: Vanity Fair Article: The Inner Quest of Newt Gingrich Author: Gail Sheehy Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: ABC News Article: Gingrich Admits to Affair During Clinton Impeachment Author: Jake Tapper Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: Esquire Article: Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican Author: John H. Richardson Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: Huffington Post Article: Newt Gingrich: Marriages, Divorces, Affairs Timeline Author: Ashley Reich Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: Politico Article: Newt Gingrich: 'I was doing things that were wrong' Author: MAGGIE HABERMAN Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: Salon.com Article: Newt's glass house Author: STEPHEN TALBOT Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: Mother Jones Article: Newt Gingrich: Shining Knight of the Post-Reagan Right Author: David Osborne Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: About.com Article: Callista Bisek and Newt Gingrich Marriage Profile Author: NA Accessed on: 05/13/2011
 Website: ABC News Article: Newt Gingrich: Leading Clinton impeachment wasn't hypocritical Author: Stephanie Condon Accessed on: 05/13/2011