Marianne Gingrich: Newt Asked Me For An “Open Marriage”

ABC News is starting to release preview clips of the interview with Marianne Gingrich that will air later tonight, and the first one is generating a lot of conversation:

Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.

In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich.

In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife.

She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich.

“And I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do,'” Marianne Gingrich told ABC News. “He wanted an open marriage and I refused.”

Marianne described her “shock” at Gingrich’s behavior, including how she says she learned he conducted his affair with Callista “in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington.”

“He always called me at night,” she recalled, “and always ended with ‘I love you.’ Well, she was listening.”

All this happened, she said, during the same time Gingrich condemned President Bill Clinton for his lack of moral leadership.

Here’s the short clip that ABC released that everyone is playing this afternoon:

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It’s hard to tell how this is going to be perceived by voters. As I said this morning, none of this information is really new, but there is a difference between reading it in a magazine article and seeing a woman who was cheated on while suffering from multiple sclerosis describe it to a television reporter. Is it fair game? Well, this is politics, everything is fair game is long as it’s true. Whether the voters thing it’s important is what really matters.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Fiona says:

    I’ll be interested in seeing how this interview plays out. As I said in an earlier post, I think a lot depends on whether or not she comes across as angry and bitter. If she does, she can be dismissed.

    I also think gender will play a role in the reaction with women being a lot more sympathetic to the woman who got dumped for a younger trophy model. Of course, Marianne was at one time the younger trophy wife and former mistress herself, so that might take a lot of the sting out of her accusations.

  2. Rob in CT says:

    Of course, Marianne was at one time the younger trophy wife and former mistress herself

    Which makes her shock at him cheating seem… at least a little delusional. Of course, we’re all delusional some of the time, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

    I agree that this might not do the damage many expect it to do. I mean, anyone who actually cared about this probably knows all about it already.

  3. legion says:

    It’s hard to tell how this is going to be perceived by voters.

    Well, much of Newt’s recent surge is apparently coming from social conservatives & evangelicals who virulently anti-Romney. And this kind of dirt might really resonate with them. Of course, how anyone can possibly justify supporting Newt on “family values” and religious grounds (even before this interview) is utterly beyond me – the evangelicals’ own hypocrisy and self-delusion may render actual information about the candidate irrelevant…

  4. anjin-san says:

    @ legion

    The family values line peddled by conservatives is sanctimonious BS. Obama actually practices the family values they yap endlessly about, and they seem to feel he is the Anti-Christ.

  5. PJ says:

    Gingrich is obviously gunning for the swing voters.

  6. MBunge says:

    @Fiona: “I also think gender will play a role in the reaction with women being a lot more sympathetic to the woman who got dumped for a younger trophy model.”

    And putting his ex-wife on national TV to badmouth him will probably make Gingrich more sympathetic to a lot of divorced men.


  7. And PJ wins the Internet today

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    Didn’t Cain’s number go UP for the first 12* mistresses?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this helps Gingrich.


  9. Rob in CT says:

    Waitaminute. This is gonna be on ABC News. How many wingnuts are gonna be watching ABC anyway? If they do, aren’t they starting from the presumption that it’s a librul propoganda outfit?

    Don’t you see? It’s a librul plot to take down Newt, hero of Conservatism! They paid/hoodwinked/suckered his (bitter) ex-wife into backstabbing him! Yeah…


  10. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    A friend of mine has often said that he is never surprised or concerned at the scandals that errupt around politicians. As he puts it, “I expect politicians to be venal and self-serving.” He goes on to note that the competence of the leaders is much more important than their morality.

    The irony in the GOP seems to me that as the party is failing at both ends of this spectrum–the candidates have neither character nor competence.

  11. Eric Florack says:

    the interview, will in fact be dismissed.

    Brian Ross, the guy who went after the interview with the former Mrs. Gingrich, that King played off of, tried to pull a Dan Rather. I will remind you that Dan Rather lost his job over that. Frankly, the same should happen to both Brian Ross, and John King…. They both should lose their jobs. That is, if objective and the is all prized in the supposed minatrseam media…but I tend to doubt that’s going to occur.

    But let’s look at the nature of the “Gotcha”

    I suggest there are divorced people all over this country. Finding an ex- husband or ex-wife who is actually LIKED by their ex, is in fact the rarity, not the norm. So on that point alone, this story is not news.

    But further, the story was already out there…. years ago. And found no traction, then and if the numbers in the South Carolina race are of any indication, it’s not found any traction in the more current iteration, either.

    And left we forget which way the press leans, let’s remember that the supposedly unbiased “mainstream” press that takes such pride in attacking Gingrich is the same one that carried the water of Bill Clinton for the best part of a decade.

    No leftist bias in the press my ass.