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Former Gingrich Wife Says He Wanted 'Open Marriage'

Marianne Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, looks up as she sits next to her attorney John Mayoue during a hearing in Marietta, Georgia, November 1999. (file photo)

A former wife of U.S. Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich says that he wanted an "open marriage" with her so he could continue his affair with the woman who eventually became his third wife.

Marianne Gingrich was married for 18 years to the former House of Representatives speaker until they divorced in 1999, and has largely kept a private life in the years since. But in an excerpt of an interview with ABC News to be broadcast Thursday night, she says her former husband asked "that I accept the fact that he has somebody else in his life" - the former Callista Bisek, who married Gingrich in 2000.

She said that "he was asking to have an open marriage and I refused." Marianne Gingrich told ABC: "That is not a marriage."

In a separate interview, she told The Washington Post that Gingrich asked her for a divorce in May 1999 while she was at her mother's 84th birthday party, and within days gave a speech extolling family values to a group of Republican women.

Gingrich has said during the campaign that he has "no relationship" with Marianne Gingrich. He told the NBC network Thursday that his two daughters from his first marriage had asked ABC to not air the interview with his second wife, but that he would not "say anything negative about Marianne."