Newt Gingrich (USA Today)
ATLANTA -- Newt Gingrich says his passionate hard work for his country contributed to his marital infidelity.
In an interview posted Wednesday by The Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich - who recently converted to Catholicism - said he had sought God's forgiveness for mistakes in his past.
"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 said.
"What I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn't trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them," he said. "I found that I felt compelled to seek God's forgiveness. Not God's understanding, but God's forgiveness."
Gingrich went on to say that he and his third wife, Callista, now have a great marriage.
"Forget about all this political stuff. As a person, I've had the opportunity to have a wonderful life, to find myself now, truly enjoying the depths of my life in ways that I never dreamed it was possible to have a life that was that nice," he said.
The twice-divorced former U.S. House speaker from Marietta has said he had an affair with Callista, a former congressional aide, while married to his second wife. It happened at the same time he was attacking President Bill Clinton for his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The interview with the Christian broadcaster comes as Gingrich gears up for a likely presidential run. He has been courting religious and social conservatives who would be critical in a GOP primary.
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Gingrich said Wednesday if he runs for president he will likely announce in early May outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The former House speaker outlined his plans on a conference call with former aides, according to people who were on the call.
The participants declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak for Gingrich.
Gingrich said he has not made a final decision on whether he will seek the White House, but said he is clearly leaning toward running.
At an appearance last week in Atlanta, Gingrich said he's exploring a presidential bid but stopped short of forming an exploratory committee.
He conceded Wednesday that the announcement was mishandled and said he expects to open a campaign office soon in his old home state of Georgia.
He also said former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, a Democrat who has backed many Republicans in recent years, will serve as a co-chairman of his national campaign effort.