Newt Gingrich's Ex-Wife, Marianne, in Context

Newt Gingrich's Ex-Wife, Marianne, in Context

Newt Gingrich and his ex-wife, Marianne

Newt Gingrich met Marianne in the early ’80s, she married him in 1981, just six months after his much-publicized divorce from his first wife. She was a constant advisor to Gingrich and even acted as his business partner in some of his book deals.

But marriage wasn’t easy. Susan Baer, writing in the Baltimore Sun in the mid-90s, described their marriage as “rocky.” Here’s how The Los Angeles Times described it in 1995.

A few years ago, Marianne conceded difficulties in maintaining a marriage to a man who has spoken in all apparent seriousness of wanting to “shift the entire planet.”

In 1989 comments reprinted in a recent Washington Post profile of him, she said their relationship had been “off and on for some time.”

“You marry to get married, not because you want to ‘change the world,’ ” she said. Her husband calculated then that the marriage had a 53% chance of surviving. (“And Now . . . The Other Mrs. Gingrich; She May Not Be a Household Name–Yet–But Those in the Know Say Marianne Gingrich Has Significant Influence on Her Husband’s Decisions,” The Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1995).

But Marianne Gingrich was quoted in a Vanity Fair article that she would work to “undermine everything” if her then-husband Gingrich ran for president. She immediately played damage control: “I never said that I wouldn’t support him, which is kind of taken out of context, and I never said that I didn’t want to go to the White House,” Gingrich told TV’s Hard Copy in an interview. “But I have said that it’s not one of my goals. I love my friends. I have a good life. Newt’s involved with making a difference. I enjoy the life, my life, the way it is now.”

Who could blame her? As she fundraised for charities, she was also getting rich off her husband’s connections. In September 1997, Moneymagazine reported that Marianne Gingrich “made more than $5,000 in three months last year by quickly trading obscure stocks underwritten by a firm owned by a generous contributor to her husband’s political action committees.”

On May 10th, 1999, Newt Gingrich and Marianne Gingrich separated. In late July 1999, Gingrich filed for divorce. Now Marianne works in a beauty parlor, a far cry from the life she once enjoyed.

In August 1999, The New York Post reported that Gingrich had “told friends he’s ‘deeply in love’ with girlfriend Callista Bishek — and congressional aides said the affair was an open secret on Capitol Hill.” Aides told The Post Bishek “talked openly about her affair with the Speaker, especially when she went out after work with colleagues.”

Marianne Gingrich had a particularly acrimonious divorce meditation with Newt Gingrich. They capped a marathon 13-hour negotiation over pizza and Cokes with a 2 a.m. divorce settlement Friday, and they agreed to keep the deal secret. (J.E. Bourgoyne, “MARIANNE GINGRICH GETS HER SLICE OF NEWT PIE,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA) December 18, 1999)

But as recently as July 2000, Marianne Gingrich had looked into writing a tell-all-book about her ex-husband. (“Marianne Gingrich considers a tell-all book,” The Times Union (Albany, NY) July 19, 2000)

In September 2000, The Washington Post reported that Marianne Gingrich earned a reported $275,000 for a book proposal promising to tell-all about her ex-husband. This was against the advice of her lawyer, Victoria Toensing, who told the press in 2005, “It’s much classier not to say anything.” (The book was never written.)

And yet in May 2010, Marianne spoke at length to Esquire Magazine about their relationship. She told Esquire that “[Gingrich] believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected…If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president.” Asked about her ex-husband’s presidential ambitions, Marianne replied: “There’s no way.”

Now, as Gingrich is getting close to winning the South Carolina primary, Marianne Gingrich again reaches for the microphone and the limelight once more.