If Newt Gingrich runs for president, as he's expected to do, he won't be the only candidate in the Republican primary field with three marriages under his belt. Buddy Roemer, the former Louisiana governor who has already formed an exploratory committee, shares that distinction, as does Donald Trump, who claims he may run. But Gingrich has an extra burden in his efforts to explain his marital history to socially conservative primary voters. Gingrich didn't just get divorced, he also cheated on both of his first two wives. And furthermore, he left both of them when they were sick. As Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall recaps today:
Let's remember, Newt famously dumped wife #1 for wife #2 while wife #1 was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. As in literally went to the hospital to present her with divorce papers while she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer.
He eventually dumped wife #2 for wife #3 shortly after wife #2 was diagnosed with MS back in 1999. And he was having the affair on wife #2 with wife #3 while he was turning the country upside down trying to drive Bill Clinton from office over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
David Frum, George W. Bush's former speechwriter, believes it's not so much the infidelity, but the aforementioned "arrogance, hypocrisy, and — most horrifying to women voters — the cruelty" that will be so "politically lethal."
But Gingrich, naturally, is trying to frame his misdeeds in the best light possible under the circumstances. In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, he discussed the issue in religious terms that the voters he hopes to win over may understand:
I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.
If God can forgive him, then surely Iowa caucusgoers can, too. And besides, Gingrich has a pretty good explanation for why he did it:
There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.
Sometimes you just feel so passionate about America that you need to go have some extramarital affairs. We've all been there.