Newt Gingrich's second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News that he sought an "open marriage" arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife.
In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast on Thursday night on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said 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. She said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich. The interview comes ahead of South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday, in which Gingrich is closing the gap between him and front-runner Mitt Romney, according to recent polls.
According to ABC, 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. "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."
In a story posted on the ABC News website, Marianne Gingrich said Newt moved for the divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, with her then-husband present. "He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew," she said.
Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer. His relationship with Marianne began while he was still married to Jackie but in divorce proceedings, Marianne said.
The former Mrs. Gingrich also told the network that Newt began to plan a run for president at the time of the divorce and told her that Callista "was going to help him become president."
ABC News said Gingrich declined to comment for this report, but told NBC's Today on Thursday morning he would not "say anything negative about Marianne."
"I'm not going to comment beyond that because I'm focused on the big issues that concern the American people, which are the current challenges we have, largely because of the failure of the Obama presidency," he said.