Newt Gingrich was forced to wade into the thorny matter of his personal life Tuesday night during a forum at the University of Pennsylvania. In a question-and-answer session, Isabel Friedman, a student at the university who's also Democratic activist, pressed Gingrich on how he squares his pro-family values with the fact he has been married three times and has admitted to two extramarital affairs.
"You adamantly oppose gay rights... but you've also been married three times and admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second," Friedman said, in comments first reported by Politico. "As a successful politician who's considering running for president, who would set the bar for moral conduct and be the voice of the American people, how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?"
Gingrich appeared none-too-happy with the question.
"I'll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question," he said. "I appreciate the delicacy and generosity in the way it was framed...I hope you feel better about yourself."
The possible Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker added he doesn't think most voters will care about his past personal mistakes:
"I've had a life which, on occasion, has had problems," said Gingrich. "I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that's their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant," he continued. "If the primary concern of the American people is the future . . . that's a debate I'll be happy to have."
Partial video of the interaction has emerged on YouTube:
Gingrich's critics will also point to an unseemly episode in the early 1980s, when he visited his cancer-stricken wife in the hospital to discuss a divorce.
Gingrich has admitted to cheating on his second wife in the late 1990's with the woman who is now his wife. He's also acknowledged having an affair with the woman who became his second wife while he was married to his first wife.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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