WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Potential U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told a Christian television network that he had sought God's forgiveness for a marital affair.
Gingrich, 67, is married to his third wife, Callista, with whom he had an affair in the mid-1990s while he was married to his second wife.
The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is tiptoeing toward a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and is seeking to ease concerns among the religious right about his personal life.
Gingrich's first wife has said he visited her in the hospital while she recovered from cancer surgery to discuss a divorce, and he has admitted to cheating on his first and second wives.
"There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview this week that was posted online on Wednesday.
Gingrich is among a group of Republicans testing the waters for a potential run for president. He has said recently that if the presidential campaign is about the future instead of the past he will have a chance of being part of the debate.
"I found that I felt compelled to seek God's forgiveness. Not God's understanding, but God's forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there's a forgiving God," Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The Brody File."
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll said Gingrich was viewed favorably by 35 percent of voters and unfavorably by 38 percent.
"I feel that I'm now 67 I'm a grandfather. I have two wonderful grandchildren. I have two wonderful daughters and two great sons in law. Callista and I have a great marriage. I think that I've learned an immense amount," he said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)