Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Daughter Defends Gingrich against Deathbed Story

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Daughter Defends Gingrich against Deathbed Story

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

There's an email going around about how Newt Gingrich served his wife with divorce papers as she lay in the hospital dying from cancer. Is this true or just hyperbole from the anti-Gingrich camp?

It's true that Gingrich has been married three times. It's also true that he has admitted to infidelity. As for the email's claim, which has been circulating for almost 30 years, there are differing versions from the different camps.

One thing not at issue is that Gingrich's wife was on her deathbed. She was in the hospital recovering from surgery and is still living today.

The origin of the claim was a 1984 profile of Gingrich in Mother Jones magazine, according to FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan fact-finding project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The article stated that Gingrich's former press secretary, Lee Howell, said that Gingrich presented his first wife Jackie Battley with a list of divorce terms while she was in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. Howell said Battley was "still sort of out of it" at the time, but that Gingrich wanted her to sign the list.

Two months later, The Washington Post followed up on the Mother Jones story. The Post quoted Battley as saying that Gingrich wanted to discuss divorce terms while she was in the hospital. The 1985 story said the couple's two daughters were also there.

The Post's story quoted Battley as saying that the divorce was a surprise to her. Gingrich said that the two had talked about divorce off and on since 1969, FactCheck.org reported.

Asked if he had handled the matter in an insensitive manner, Gingrich told the Post: "All I can say is when you have been talking about divorce for 11 years and you've gone to a marriage counselor, and the other person doesn't want the divorce, I'm not sure there is any sensitive way to handle it."

On his campaign website, Gingrich has called the hospital story "a vicious lie. a It is completely false." But this contradicts comments made repeatedly by Battley after their divorce, the Post reported in a Nov. …

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