Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is in discussions to be Donald Trump’s choice for vice president. According to The Washington Post, Gingrich is the top contender at the moment, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
If Newt is picked, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Callista Gingrich, Newt’s third wife who has been by his side during his two unsuccessful presidential campaigns. Born in Whitehall, Wisconsin in 1966, Callista is of Polish and Swiss descent, and she met Newt while working in Washington D.C. in the 1990s.
Here’s everything you need to know about Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista.
1. She and Newt Had an Affair in the 1990s
Callista Gingrich worked in Washington D.C. while Newt Gingrich was serving as House Minority Whip in the 1990s. She began her political career by interning for Congressman Steve Gunderson and eventually joined his staff. In 1995, she moved over to a job as the Chief Clerk for the House Committee on Agriculture, which she held for the following 12 years.
Callista met Newt in 1993, when he was still married to his second wife, Marianne. In a 2007 interview, Newt said that he and Marianne were going through a difficult time, and he expressed some regret for his infidelity.
“There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them,” Gingrich said. “I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I’m not only not proud of, but I would deeply urge my children and grandchildren not to follow in my footsteps.”
Their affair was evidently a bit of an open secret in D.C. at the time. A former colleague of Callista’s told Rolling Stone that the affair was common knowledge within Republican circles. Marianne later said in an interview that Newt began his affair with Callista because he thought it would help his career.
2. She Studied Music in College & Sings in a Choir
During Antonin Scalia’s funeral earlier this year, some may have been surprised to see Callista Gingrich singing in the choir at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, Gingrich has been a member of this choir for the past 20 years, performing every single week.
When asked why she decided to join the choir, she told The Washington Post, “They needed altos. I was already singing at the Capitol Hill Chorale, and I was very happy there, but I auditioned anyway.”
Callista studied music in school, going to Luther College in Iowa on a music scholarship. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in Public Communication. She also plays the French horn in the City of Fairfax Band.
3. She’s the President of a Film Company
Callista is the president of Gingrich Productions, a company she and Newt founded which produces documentaries that are primarily historical in nature. Subjects covered in the documentaries include American exceptionalism, Pope John Paul II, terrorism, Christianity and Ronald Reagan. Each of these movies is hosted by Newt and Callista themselves, and many are produced in partnership with Citizens United, a conservative non-profit organization.
In an appearance on Hannity in 2010, Newt said of the company that Callista is really the one to thank for the company’s success.
“I’m just talent, he said. “She does all the hard work.”
4. She Writes Children’s Books
Gingrich Productions is also responsible for publishing children’s books written by Callista Gingrich. In particular she is responsible for Ellis the Elephant, a series of books about an elephant who travels through time and experiences important events in American history.
These include Sweet Land of Liberty, Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and From Sea to Shining Sea. Her most recent installment was Christmas in America, which was released in 2015.
“I write these books because I love America, and I believe America is an exceptional nation,” she said in a 2013 interview. “And I think it’s more important now than ever that our children understand what makes us so special.”
She also said that children are generally eager to learn and that she felt she owed it to them to help them appreciate the greatness of the United States.
5. Newt Converted to Catholicism After Meeting Her
These days, Newt Gingrich is a devoted Catholic, but the religion was not a part of his life until meeting Callista. When they met in the 1990s, Callista was singing in the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and so Newt, a Southern Baptist, started attending every week in order to see her.
Newt learned more and more about the church by spending time with Callista, as she was always extremely devoted to her religion.
“I have always been a very spiritual person,” Callista said. “I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us.”
Newt finally decided to convert to his wife’s religion in 2008 when Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States. Callista sang in the basilica choir when Benedict came to D.C., and so Newt had the opportunity to attend.
“Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded,” Newt wrote. “The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years.”
Callista said that she was extraordilary thrilled when Newt decided to convert.
“When Newt became a Catholic, it was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said.