TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: How Mitt Romney handled wife’s diagnosis with MS compared to Gingrich


I don’t like delving into the personal relationships of people because relationships are often messy and complicated and it is difficult for an outsider to always understand what’s going on.

But in a political sense, the allegation to ABC News by Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife, Marianne, that Gingrich left her two months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis sets up a damning contrast between Mitt Romney and the former speaker, at least as far as appearances go.

This is how ABC News relays Marianne’s revelation:

“She said Newt moved for the divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, with her then-husband present.

“‘He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew,’ she said.

“Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer. His relationship with Marianne began while he was still married to Jackie but in divorce proceedings, Marianne said.”

Here’s how Mitt Romney described, to Fox News’s Chris Wallace in December, his feelings when he found out his wife got MS:

“Probably the toughest time in my life was standing there with Ann as we hugged each other and the diagnosis came. And I was afraid it was Lou Gehrig’s disease. As we came into the doctor’s office, the brochures on his table there were Lou Gehrig’s, ALS and multiple sclerosis. And he did these neurological tests and then he — and we could see that she had real balance problems. And she didn’t have feeling in places she should have feeling, and he stepped out of the room and we stood up and hugged each other. And I said to her, as long as it’s not something fatal, I’m just fine.

“But I’m — look, I’m happy in life as long as I’ve got my soulmate with me. And Ann is. And she, fortunately, has been able to recover the great majority of her health. But, you know, this marriage thing, it’s about bringing two people together in a way that nothing else compares with.”

Wallace pressed for more details and Romney indulged:

“And, you know, I said to her, look — I mean she said I can’t cook any more. I mean, she was — this was a really difficult time. At the time the disease was diagnosed, it was really tough for her. She — we were getting ready to look at putting an elevator in the house to get her up to the second floor. We were thinking about a wheelchair for her down the road. I mean, we’re talking about a dramatic change in life. She was tired all the time. She couldn’t take care of the family in the way she had in the past. And a lot of that was what gave meaning to her, you know, day-to-day activities. And I said, look, I don’t care what the meals are like. You know, I like cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. We could do fine with that as long as we have each other. And if you think about what makes a difference to you in your life, it’s people. Life is all about the people you love. And you know, I — we can handle disease. Death, that’s a different matter. Death, I don’t know that I can handle death. Disease and hardship, we can handle as long as we have the people we love around us.

In Romney’s case, we see what appears to be the man’s sheer decency and love for his wife. In Gingrich’s case, we see something far less than that, if his ex-wife’s allegations are true. If the personal relationships of candidates matter, Romney certainly has a big advantage.

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