The EFM Feature
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Joan Walsh has a great line:

The GOP presidential primary is a lot like a kindergarten t-ball game: When it comes to being in first place, just about everybody gets a turn. And now, congratulations, Newt Gingrich: It’s your turn!

This means, of course, that the amiable professor now will now be freshly scrutinized in both his personal and his political life.  So far, he’s not been considered a threat, so his liabilities have been overlooked by his rivals.  However, as he rises in the polls, his life is about to undergo the same treatment that Herman Cain and Rick Perry have experienced… and it’s not going to be pretty.

First let’s talk about the most obvious problem – his wives.  Nineteen year old Newt married 26 year old Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher in 1962.  They had two children, but Newt had an affair with Marianne Ginther and left Jackie to wed Marianne one year later.  Then, in the mid-1990s, Gingrich met a staffer in the House of Representatives — Callista Bisek  – who is 23 years his junior. Newt married her shortly after his divorce from his second wife Ginther.  They are currently married, and Callista plays a front-and-center role in Newt’s campaign.  (She has her own portion on Newt’s website here, in a move that shows that Newt might be tone deaf on how much women voters want to see the trophy wife of a Presidential candidate supposedly running to protect family values.)

Of course, it’s not just the fact that he’s had — count ‘em — three wives.  There’s the infamous “hospital story,” too.  Apparently, Newt visited  Jackie and demanded that she discuss terms of their divorce, while she was in the hospital recovering from an operation for uterine cancer.  (Read how this anecdote has come to define Newt in ways that do not promise to disappear if nominated for the GOP.)

Walsh writes:

Gingrich is probably best known for serving his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery, so he could marry his mistress, whom he later divorced to marry a staffer. But he’s also probably the only politician, who when you’re asked “What’s the worst thing he’s done?” has done a lot of things that rival leaving his cancer-stricken wife for his mistress.

She details some of his strange positions and mistakes in “Newt Gingrich: Even His Baggage Has Baggage” where she points out that there’s even more to the sexually sordid story.  When he was cheating on his second wife with his third, he did this while leading the drive to impeach Clinton over lying about adultery… “when he was himself lying about adultery.”

He’s asked for forgiveness.  This is not only an important, integral part of the story, it isthe story… especially as it pertains to Newt’s salvation.  We have all benefited from divine mercy, and are thankful for a Savior who went to such great lengths to make forgiveness possible!

However, as wonderful as forgiveness is, there are still real-world consequences to sin.  For example, voters might look at him with skepticism as he runs to combat the moral decay of our nation.  Voters might find his claims to protect traditional marriage a little hard to swallow.  They might also find it hard to trust his political promises, considering how easily he broke his personal promises.

I’ve heard many evangelicals mention Newt as a viable alternative to Gov. Romney, and I can’t help but think that it would be quite ironic if social conservatives make a moral statement against the LDS candidate by rallying behind this thrice married lothario.


Comments and Discussion

Evangelicals for Mitt provides comments as a way to engage in a public and respectiful discussion about articles and issues. Any comment may be removed by the editors for violating common decency or tempting flames.

28 Responses to The Wives of Newt Gingrich – Do They Matter?

  1. Pat says:

    I am a Twitter follower of GOV Romney. I am very disappointed in Evangelicals for Mitt. I understand you are an attack dog forGOV Romney. I have watched as you attacked the character of GOV Perry and Herman Cain now you are going after Gingrich. Why don’t you take Evangelicals off your name? You are hurting Evangelicals you high light the Hypocricy manny believe the church represents. I believe Christians should take political stands but not this way. Stop throwing dirt and hear say out on other candidates. Tell us why Romney is good not why others are bad. I will not vote for Romney when he ysesothers to throw dirt out about his rivals. If he believes what you say he should say it himself.

    • Phil says:

      Pat,
      Part of doing what you request (i.e. “tell us why Romney is good”) requires someone to make comparisons of other candidates. Pointing out the follies of other candidates is a very simple way of demonstrating why another candidate is better. As we all go out shopping for our loved ones this holiday season we will research and compare various items so that we make the best decision we can as we spend our hard earned money. We’ll look at all the reasons why we should buy an iPhone over an Android or vice versa. Part of that research will include looking at reasons NOT to buy a particular item. We’ll jump on a consumer report site and look at all the pros and cons of each item and subsequently make our decision. The same logic applies here. A person needs to know all of the pros and cons of each candidate. Only looking at the pros of every candidate will tell you only half the picture. It’s also worth noting that some cons won’t be a big deal to some people as they make their decision. But the facts need to be laid out on the table regardless so that each person can make their decision.

      Also, Evangelicals For Mitt isn’t “throwing out hear say” they are sharing facts. The facts about Gingrich’s past in this regard are undisputed (even by the candidate himself).

    • VHP says:

      Pat, I agree with Phil. While I appreciate what you are saying, I think you are missing the point. In my view, the folks at EFM have tried very diligently to retain their Christian roots while providing critical information needed to evaluate the differences between candidates. You accuse them of throwing out dirt and hearsay, but did not specify what about the article was untrue. If there is something that is not true, I (and I expect, they) would like to know about it. Please tell us. Lastly, if you are sincerely concerned about this effort not reflecting Christianity, you should remember the Lord himself preached sermons that did the same thing. Read the 23rd chapter of Matthew. There are many places in the Bible where the actions of others are pointed out in an effort to teach and contrast right from wrong, good from evil. That is necessary part of making righteous judgments.

  2. David Walser says:

    It’s not just Newt’s personal life that would make him an ironic choice for the anyone-but-Mitt crowd. Newt’s taken three sides of just about every public policy question over the last three decades. The anyone-but-Mitters will accept a candidate who supported tax increases, before calling for tax cuts, supported a public mandate for health insurance, before he was against it, etc., so they won’t have to swallow Mitt’s “flip flops”? Newt’s every-changing positions make Mitt look like the poster-boy for consistency.

    As a Romney supporter, I don’t mind it when a candidate moves from a liberal position to a conservative position. So, my point is NOT that Newt shouldn’t have changed positions over the decades. A change in facts should, at times, lead to a change in position. My point is that it’s ironic that those who reject Romney because he’s become more conservative with time would prefer Newt.

  3. Mike Murray says:

    I am not a huge Gingrich fan. Neither does Romney set my heart atwitter. I’m a lower-case “i” independent (not a Dem; not a GOPer; not a member of any third party, either). I have leaned both left and right of center politically during my nearly four decades of voting.

    I am decidedly conservative these days. And so I will, in all probability, support the candidate the GOP nominates. (It is certain that I WILL NOT be voting for Obama.)

    As I say, I have no great affection for Newt Gingrich. But I do think he’s entitled to truthful reporting. As a consequence, I believe Joan Walsh — a liberal — to be a very poor source for information, especially when it comes to the matter of the circumstances surrounding Gingrich’s divorce from his “cancer-ridden” spouse.

    For a more accurate account, see what the Gingrich’s own daughter had to say about that matter: http://www.creators.com/conservative/jackie-gingrich-cushman/setting-the-record-straight.html

    Shortened link: http://tinyurl.com/5tm57dl

    • Nancy French says:

      Mike, in one of the links, (the one about the hospital incident) they quote directly from the first wife herself…

  4. Dane McBride says:

    I have been a little disgusted that pundits, in referring to Newt’s electability problems, have referenced these oh-so- delicately as ” some baggage”, it being uncivil to reference what the “baggage” is/was. While politically attuned folks know the meaning of the term, there are tons of people, including those of the religious right, who do not. Even for those that do know what “some baggage” refers to, the “baggage which must not be named” becomes trivialized and irrelevant thereby . Thanks for addressing this more frontally. I PROMISE the Obama oppo machine will not let it lie unnamed and forgotten, if Newt becomes the nominee. Pro-Family types should be recoiling at Newt’s surging.

  5. Shauna says:

    I too find the wife’s account to be more likely than the memory of a child.

    I have found it extremely depressing to see Character become such a non-issue in this race.

    Newt’s lifestyle has been long standing and simply cannot be dismissed as though he had a few wild oats to sow. He was not a boy… This was a middle aged man behaving this way… and this is not the end of the many rumours about him that make Bill Clinton seem faithful. He was a middle aged man who was at the time the highest ranking member of our Party. The party of family values.

    This is the time when we determine if morality and family values is anything more than a catch phrase. Never can we go back from a decision to condone Newt’s life style. We lose the right to ever talk about family values again, when Obama at least seems faithful but we choose a well know philanderer.

    We also confirm that the left is correct when theys say that women have little value in the Republican party, they are mindless drones interchangeable with each other for the pleasure of men.

    • Lance in TX says:

      Compare Newt’s marriage history to Romney’s..

      Romney has had only 1 wife. He married her right after he came back from his mission in France. No second or third wife. No scandal. They are commited to each other for ever (not just until death do they part).

      • ccr says:

        Not only that comparison between Mitt and Newt but this as well:

        1) Mitt stood/stands faithfully beside Ann with her cancer diagnosis. (compare to Newt’s #1 wife)
        2) Mitt stood/stands faithfully beside Ann with her multiple schlerosis diagnosis (compare to Newt’s #2 wife’s same diagnosis)

        If the religious right side with Newt over Mitt on “flip flopping” and “core”……..the rest of us had better pray extra hard for “God Bless America”.

  6. Jim Tills says:

    Recently I wrote the following concerning Newt and Mitt:

    Newt Gingrich is marvelously articulate, witty, and a known history buff who can wow crowds with his charm and brilliance. His past personal history is a tragedy; if not for it, in my opinion, he could have run previously and already been POTUS. However, I doubt seriously that the American People will forget the past unfaithfulness and broken promises that marred his otherwise incredible career. Of one thing we can be certain, if Gingrich does manage to beat out Romney for the Republican nomination, Obama’s cronies and supportive media will drench the American public with the most negative smear campaign against him ever launched on anyone. Because his past failures have no real excuse, Obama would probably prevail.
    If Romney wins the nomination—which on strength of character, experience, and proven business acumen in turning around failing enterprises—would be the wisest decision collectively that Republicans could make, the Obama attack dogs unleashing their most vitriolic and salacious lies will not find much traction. Romney’s character is almost flawless and his record unbelievably great in every field he has been allowed and fortunate to enter.
    Will he win in Iowa? Perhaps not but he will either win or be 2nd or 3rd. Will he win New Hampshire? Undoubtedly yes. I believe as the American people continue to see the real Mitt Romney and not the MSM countefeit bogey man the Media Left has tried to create, he will zoom to the Republican Nomination and then become POTUS.

    Nancy, you have openly expressed the unfaithfulness and broken promises of which Mr. Gingrich is guilty. Can he be trusted to keep his word in the face of an all-out attack on his character by Obama or to mute the critics and gain support will he move to the center on issues vitally important to all America and the world including Israel. I would hope not…but Newt has been a “in-your-face” kind of politician at times causing consternation to social conservatives and backing causes that just don’t make very good sense.
    . Comparing him to Obama, there is no comparison, Newt is far superior. Then again, comparing him to Mitt Romney is also no comparison, Mitt is far superior. It’s true, character counts.

    • Kathy says:

      Jim, that was a wondefully thought out and true post. I agree on all counts. I really cannot believe that the ‘Tea Party’ and many of the evangelical far right would rather support Newt Gingrich with his past serial adultery than Mitt Romney, a truly good and honorable man. I used to dismiss that it had anything to do with anti-Mormonism, I guess because I was raised a Southern Baptist and we were never taught to judge others based on their religion in our home…but now, I am sadly coming to a different conclusion.

  7. Annette says:

    Jim Tills
    Great post! Thank you
    I just wanted to add a comment. If I found out that Romney had affairs while married, my perception of him would change considerably. We have to question someone who can live with themselves while committing such a deceitful acts as adultery. Gingrich has had multiple affairs and indiscretions that people will testify to.

  8. Maureen says:

    Mitt Romney is by far the best choice of all the candidates…..even if you took all of the controversy of the others off the table. He is articulate and quick…..and an absolute mastermind with the economy and foreign affairs. He has got it all and good character to boot : )

  9. robert basinger says:

    Newt Gingrich’s character will be a factor especially since he takes such a strong pro christion stance in his condemnation of the coptic christian persecution in Egypt. Immorality is not something a practicing christian should take lightly as I believe Newt did. There are some issues regarding his involvement with Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae.
    An outsider with business experience and success is what America needs now. That person is Mitt Romney.

  10. Lance in TX says:

    What about these tidbits about Mitt??

    When he ran the Olympics he donated $1 million of his own money and donated all of his salary ($275,000 per year) to charity.

    Earnings from his book “No Apology” have been donated to charity.

    A Romney spokesman noted that Romney did not accept a salary while he was Governor and that he paid for his personal and political travel, while the superintendent of the State Police pointed out that the Governor never requested the security and that the security detail followed the Governor on all trips

    • Terry says:

      Thanks for posting that. I knew about the Olympic thing, but not about the rest. But, that just shows the character of Mitt.

    • Kathy says:

      He has also said he will donate his salary as president, if he wins, to charity. No one can say that Mitt Romney is running to further his own fortunes at least. I am not sure that can be said for several others past and present.

  11. SHIRLEY says:

    Mitt Romney is without a doubt one of the best men you will ever find, a devoted husband and father, a devout Christian – yes CHRISTIAN. He spent 2 years as a teen in a foreign country teaching the Gospel (yes, they DO use the bible) The fact that he is a Mormon just tears up “Evangicals”. I am a Christian protestent and just the things I stated alone puts him heads above the other candidates! Add his education, intelligence and experience both in Government and business – there is NO reason to not get behind him and pray that a Honest, Godly man such as him could lead the country! How blessed we would be.

  12. SHIRLEY says:

    I cannot believe Christians are not running all over each other trying to get Mitt Romney elected. This is our opportunity to get a man who has values, morals, ethics, a honest, dedicated family man and Christian. Yes, Christian – Mormons believe in God, and yes they do “use” the bible for their worship. Romney spent 2 years in a foreign country as a teen and excelled – please read about it and be impressed. Read about his personal history, his marriage, his children, his dedication to his church! All of this coupled with his honesty, his integrity, his education (dual degrees in law and business, with honors), his successful business (study Bain Capital and how many companies he has established or helped (thousands of jobs too). Read how he saved the Olympics using his intellect and management skills – with no salary. He was a very successful Governor – bringing them from a huge deficit to a surplus – again with no salary. How BLESSED we would be to have a man like this running our country!

  13. Terry says:

    As I’ve stated on other posts, whether or not Mitt is Christian should be a non-issue politically. The important thing is that the LDS moral compass and the Evangelical moral compass are both pointing the same direction. Doctrinal issues aside–and they should be shoved to the side in this case–Mitt is the most qualified candidate for president, and is the candidate who will best uphold the values that both religions are looking for in a future president.

  14. Daniel Peterson says:

    Many years ago, an academic colleague and friend of mine was teaching at a college in the American Southeast. He was also serving as a Mormon bishop.

    An interfaith coalition was being formed in the area to combat pornography, and he attempted to join. The pastors of several of the churches in the area, however, declared that they would withdraw from the coalition is the Mormon were permitted to remain.

    So he withdrew, rather than destroy the campaign against pornography. But, he concluded, it was obvious to him that at least some Protestant pastors oppose Mormonism more than they oppose pornography.

    Now, I certainly don’t mean to tar all Evangelicals with the same brush, but I share Nancy’s perplexity that Iowa Evangelicals might in fact choose a serial adulterer over a Mormon. I’ll be really, really disheartened if they do, but, as of now, I’m holding out hope that they won’t.

  15. Matt says:

    Daniel,

    The most recent “SHOCK” poll would have us all believe that Newt will run away w/ Iowa. And, maybe that will happen. Regardless of whether Iowans will support a “serial adulterer” or a former pizza guy over Mitt, one thing is clear: Iowans chose one of their own (Huckabee) over Romney in 2008 and they seem intent on doing it again….regardless of his checkered past. Iowans seem to collectively want “anyone BUT Mitt”.

  16. Liz says:

    I do have a problem with someone kicking a wife or two to the curb. Repentance is grand, but I’m not inclined to award the guy the position of POTUS just to show how magnanimous I am. If evangelicals are supposed to suspend critical thinking and airbrush reality in order to play nice……it becomes awfully hard to find the truth after a point. Truth seekers unite!

  17. Newt Gingrich understands the same thing Vladimir Putin understands: citizens LIKE and ADMIRE a highly sexed, super masculine male. King David was a great leader, but led astray by having strong male desires.

    The supposed problems with a Gingrich candidacy (the serial adultery, they blatant hypocrisy) are actually advantages. Only a man of great power, ambition, and drive would initiate an affair with a comely young staff member while leading an impeachment of a president. Mr. Gingrich shows his strength and ruthlessness in taking what he desired, like King David, not settling for his second wife, who no longer pleased him.

    Remember, Mr. Gingrich speaks strongly against adultery as someone who knows temptation and regrets them. We support traditional values by endorsing his words.

    But we also recognize that strong leaders do not hesitate to act in ways that are ruthless. If America needs the oil in Mexico or Iraq or in a crisis in Canada Mr. Gingrich has shown he has the strong masculine will to take it, without apology and without concern for what the UN says. Mr. Gingrich desired Callista, and he took her. Callista had the all-American ambition and drive to get the husband that she wanted. This couple exemplifies and celebrates the can-do attitude of the American work-ethic. They are winners, and America loves a winner.

    Mr. Obama is married to his first wife. He lacks the drive and ambition that God gave Mr. Gingrich today and the great King David in Biblical times.

    thirdwives4newt.blogspot.com

  18. Sherri Voebel says:

    Some voters will discriminate against Mitt because he is a member of LDS. This is unfortunate.. They would do well to set denominational issues aside and respect his business acumen and ability to get buy in from both parties during his tenure as governor.

    Recently, Governor Huckabee expressed his belief that Mitt Romney had the best chance of taking on President Obama. This fell short of an endorsement. Former President Bush (Sr.) endorsed Mitt Romney. Whether or not the Tea Party can make the leap and will go to the polls for Mitt remains to be seen.

    Is the adultery issue important to voters? Certainly. Probably more important to female voters. Can folks see through the fact that Newt Gingrich adopts whatever stance is favorable at the time — forgetting his previous position? According to his previous staffers, he was very inconsistent. If voters care to study the issues, they will see these issues to be true and not simply hear-say or coming from a liberal press.

    Let’s hope people do a deep study of the candidates record, political positions and personal integrity. A united party behind Mitt Romney will go a long way in November.

    Sherri

  19. Sherri Voebel says:

    A succinct answer is yes. Wives do matter. Rather, relationships matter.

    When I watched this video interview with Ann Romney (7 Dec 2011) I am impressed by her relationship with her husband, the manner in which she has given to the community, how they have dealt with her illnesses, and her core beliefs. Rather than speak negatively about other candidates and their relationships, it’s worth a look at the video interview. You learn a great deal about the candidate’s wife . She is a great lady and is a credit to Mitt Romney.

    Ann Romney Highlights: 7 Dec 2011 – National Review
    http://www.nationalreview.com/primary-event/285142/ann-romney-highlights-romneys-long-marriage-katrina-trinko

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