One of the most difficult problems faced by Newt Gingrich in appealing to religious voters is his record of adultery and three marriages. His campaign insists that it was his first wife, Jackie, not Gingrich, who wanted the first divorce. However, recently released papers contradict that claim and indicate it was Newt Gingrich who wanted the divorce.
The campaign previously insisted that “it was (Jackie Gingrich) that requested the divorce, not Newt.”
That first divorce was particularly because Jackie was reportedly dying of cancer and rumors suggested that Newt actually served the divorce papers the day after her cancer surgery — Gingrich denies the claims as does their daughter.
CNN was told the divorce papers were sealed but it later found the documents.
Friends of both Gingrich and his first wife contradicted Gingrich’s claims about who wanted the divorce.
The papers show that Newt Gingrich filed a divorce complaint on July 14, 1980, in Carroll County, saying that “the marriage of the parties is irretrievably (sic) broken.” Even more interesting is that Jackie filed opposing the filing — a curious response if she wanted the divorce or, as the campaign claimed today, she asked him to file the papers. She added that “[a]lthough defendant does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken, defendant has been hopeful that an arrangement for temporary support of defendant and the two minor daughters of the parties could be mutually agreed upon without the intervention of this court . . . All efforts to date have been unsuccessful.”
Jackie Gingrich has never spoken to the media on the allegations. However, in 1985, she stated”He can say that we had been talking about it for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise.”
The bigger concern for evangelical voters is that Gingrich was already in a relationship with a 28-year-old congressional aide at the time. He later married the aide, Marianne Ginther Gingrich, and then divorced her 19 years later for another, and younger, congressional aide whom he married soon after his divorce. The third wife, Callista Bisek Gingrich, is now campaigning for him.
I have previously written how candidates like Gingrich who are running on faith should not complain when asked about their own commitment to faith. In this case, Gingrich clearly violated (repeatedly) an oath to God in a different ceremony. With the declining separation of church and state, such questions are likely to increase.
How relevant should that be to voters? Would it be equally relevant if he was not campaigning for religious voters?
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