No casual Fridays for Callista
Gossip mongers, un-bate your breath. There just doesn't seem to be a juicy scoop to be had on Washington's most immovably-coiffed mistress-turned-wife.
As Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign gains momentum and his wife Callista edges further into the spotlight, the hidden truths being dug up are a lot more staid than the stuff we already know.
Yes, Callista is his third wife. Yes, she's 23 years younger than he, and yes, they began their relationship while he was still married.
But two profiles released yesterday present an image of Callista Gingrich as a soft-spoken but ambitious, meticulous woman who may value preserving her marriage over winning the White House, but who will support her husband regardless.
The impeccable, proto-Republican appearance Callista displays for campaign appearances (stiff, white-blond hair, simple skirt suits in bold colors) is not new, nor is it an act, several sources told Reuters's Kristina Cooke and Marcus Stern.
"She was always classy, always looked wonderful. She would even hold a beer bottle elegantly," a college professor remembered. Colleagues from Gingrich Productions confessed that Callista doesn't participate in the office's casual Friday.
She plays the French horn and, despite appearing at Newt's side at many of his campaign events, rarely misses her biweekly choir practices at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Callista also sat for an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network reporter Jennifer Wishon, who said it's a shame she doesn't speak more.
"She really has a calm and confident yet warm presence," Wishon said during the feature. "She carried him through the wilderness."
Callista spoke briefly about her faith for that interview. She was raised and remains a devout Catholic.
"When greater challenges are put before us, we become even more spiritual," she said, noting she prays at the beginning and end of each day and several times throughout.
Since meeting Newt in 1993, she has seen a fair amount of challenges. They met and began their affair shortly after she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for a congressman from her home state of Wisconsin.
They married in 2000 and seven years later they began Gingrich Productions, where they produced documentaries directed at conservative and religious Americans.
"Newt and Callista's personal time was sacrosanct," Cooke and Stern wrote. "If they had dinner reservations for 6:30, all other work was up against that deadline," irritating many staffers who believed Newt wasn't serious about the company.
This summer, as Newt's campaign languished in the polls, staff defected with similar complaints, that he was placing his wife above his political commitments. Mid-campaign, they went on a cruise of the Greek islands and to her college for a reunion, for example.
One of the most tawdry details Cooke and Stern dug up: In one instance, a former Gingrich employee recalled, Newt kept an audience waiting 10 minutes because Callista asked him to help her unpack.
Dave Bossie, director of the conservative political organization Citizens United, who co-produces documentaries with the Gingriches, told Reuters he thinks that's unfair.
"Over the years he's always been attacked for having been divorced twice, and it's a really interesting change to see him attacked for supporting and loving his wife. . . . The world's upside down," he said.