The Gingrich divorce

Now that Newt Gingrich is the frontrunner du jour in the Republican presidential contest, the story about his divorce from his first wife is, again, fodder for his opponents.

This tweet this morning from Roger Ebert reopens the discussion.


At least Ebert didn’t say Gingrich’s wife was “dying,” which several retellings of the story have.

Still, it’s one of the factoids of the campaign season mostly stripped of context .

What’s the full story? has just posted it:

So, what do we know for certain? One, Battley and Gingrich were already separated and in the process of getting a divorce when he visited her in the hospital. And two, Battley wasn’t dying of cancer. Also, the “yellow pad” and handwritten list of divorce terms mentioned in the original Mother Jones story aren’t mentioned in the accounts given by Battley, Gingrich or Cushman, who all were present.

But even by Gingrich’s account it was an unpleasant conversation at a time when his wife was hospitalized. Beyond that, the details of what was actually discussed remain cloudy, to say the least.

Here’s the full post.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – thanks for citing A similar organization,, has rated more than 50 statements by Gingrich.

    They use a fun scale to determine fact from fiction, ranging from TRUE to PANTS ON FIRE. ( Your own congressperson Bachmann has had her pants on fire so frequently that she could heat the entire northland for many winters to come.)

    But while I’m not a huge supporter of the politician named after a slimy amphibian,

    I haven’t heard of too many timely, pleasant divorces.

  • Disco

    Well, great. We’ve now got a straight story on one of the small details of Newt’s many romantic entanglements. Goodness knows that I and many others are basing our opinions of him on this one detail.


  • Bob Collins

    // I haven’t heard of too many timely, pleasant divorces.

    Not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.

  • Tom

    This was Newt’s first wife, who was his high school teacher. While much has been made of Newt bringing divorce papers to her hospital bed, there has been little notice to the fact that she was nearly a decade older than Newt — and his teacher — when they began dating. They subsequently got married when Newt was 19 years old. It’s interesting that the “family values” folks apparently aren’t concerned about high school teachers having sex with their students or about Newt now being on his third marriage. Is someone who is on their third marriage more “pro-marriage” than someone still with their first spouse?

  • JackU

    Is someone who is on their third marriage more “pro-marriage” than someone still with their first spouse?

    At the risk of being banned by Mr. Collins for this I’ll say the answer here is, of course he’s pro-marriage. If he wasn’t he would have stopped marrying after the first divorce and simply “lived in sin”.