|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Still in her 20s when they met, Ms. Bisek had been raised in a town of 1,500, the only child of a meat packer and a secretary. A churchgoing Roman Catholic, she had attended a Lutheran college where she practiced piano five hours a day. “Is this the wisest course for you to be taking?” Karen Olson, her best friend, recalled asking.
Today, Ms. Bisek is Mrs. Gingrich, married for 11 years, but perhaps best remembered for the six-year affair that contributed to her husband’s political downfall. His critics cast Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, as a hypocrite who sought to impeach a president over infidelity while engaging in it himself with Ms. Bisek, who was a Congressional aide.
Yet in a curious tale of Washington reinvention, the onetime congressman from Georgia is counting on the third Mrs. Gingrich for his political redemption.
As he prepares for a Republican presidential primary run — he said Monday that he would formally declare his intentions on Wednesday — Mr. Gingrich is presenting himself as a family man who has embraced Catholicism and found God, with his wife as a kind of character witness. Depending on one’s point of view, she is a reminder of his complicated past, or his secret political weapon.
Barely a sentence goes by without Mr. Gingrich uttering the words “Callista and I.” They are constantly together — at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, at conservative political conferences, at book signings and screenings of their documentary films. She is the voice on his audio books; her face is all over his 2012 Web site, where visitors can read “A Note from Newt & Callista.”
At Villanova University on a recent Thursday night, Mrs. Gingrich warmed up the audience for a showing of the couple’s movie about Pope John Paul II by signing books and DVDs in her left-handed curlicue. But when asked whether she is ready for the scrutiny a campaign would bring, she smiled tightly and grew silent.
Mr. Gingrich answered for her. “Seems to be,” he said, with uncharacteristic tentativeness. “We’ve talked about it for a year. It’s difficult.”
Mr. Gingrich is well aware that social conservatives are skeptical of him because he did not emphasize their issues in Congress, but also because of his two divorces and admission of infidelity. He has been meeting with religious leaders around the country to address their concerns.