ATLANTA—Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he won’t leave his wife and marry for a fourth time if he’s chosen to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
“I know voters are wondering if I’m going to stay married to Callista, my current wife, given my history of marrying women I’ve had affairs with, but I want to reassure the American people that I’m sticking with my current wife,” Gingrich said at a press conference this morning.
The former Georgia congressman has a checkered history when it comes to marriage. He married Jackie Battley in 1962, when he was 19 and she was 26. He pressed her to sign divorce papers while she was still in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery in 1981, according to accounts. Whether the story is true or not, Gingrich has admitted that he was having an affair at the time with Marianne Ginther, whom he later married and then divorced, in 2000, when he was having an affair with Callista Bisek, a congressional aide.
The affair with Bisek occurred at the same time he was leading the impeachment effort against Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich later married Bisek, and she is his current wife, and she will remain his current wife, he says, if he’s the vice presidential nominee. “It’s my promise to America that I have no intention of having an affair and marrying someone else if I’m on the ticket,” he said.
Analysts say that that’s an important promise, because that same fidelity issue doesn’t arise with Trump, even though he is also on his third marriage. “No one is talking about Trump leaving Melania, his current wife,” says Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson. “Trump has a very attractive current wife. He would be crazy to leave her, because it would be hard for him to get a wife more attractive than she is. I really think his dumping her for someone else is not going to happen. It’s a non-story.”
Pierson acknowledged that Gingrich’s promise to stay married to his third wife is on shakier ground, since his wife isn’t nearly as attractive as Trump’s. “I can’t deny that Callista faces pressure that Melania doesn’t face,” Pierson says. “Even so, I really think Gingrich fully intends to stay married to Callista and not marry someone he might be having an affair with. That’s my genuine view at this time, but that doesn’t deny that Callista’s position isn’t as secure as Melania’s. Anyone can see that their positions are not comparable.”
Pierson also said she doesn’t think the 80 ethical violations Gingrich was charged with during his congressional career would be a problem for the Republican ticket, given the 3,500 lawsuits Trump’s been involved in over the course of his business career.
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