Gingrich, Paul dispute new allegations

Dec. 27, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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CARROLLTON, Ga., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Newt Gingrich's office clarified its account of the GOP U.S. presidential hopeful's first divorce, but insisted his wife, and not he, sought the breakup.

"Carroll County Georgia court documents accurately show Newt Gingrich filed for a divorce from his wife Jackie Battley, but it was Jackie Battley who requested the divorce," Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told CNN in an e-mail after the network said court documents seemed to contradict Gingrich's account of how his first marriage ended.

The Gingrich campaign maintains it was first wife Jackie Battley Gingrich, the mother of the couple's two daughters, who sought a divorce in 1980.

But Carroll County, Ga., court documents cited Monday by CNN indicate it was Newt Gingrich who filed for divorce and his wife who wrote to a judge asking the court to block the action because she, the defendant, "does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken."

"Defendant shows that she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time," her petition said.

Detractors say the controversial end of Newt Gingrich's first marriage reflects poorly on his character, The New York Times reported. He has been married three times.

Newt Gingrich has admitted he made unspecified personal judgment errors in his life and has sought God's forgiveness.

His campaign Web site also denied Newt Gingrich asked his wife for a divorce while she was hospitalized being treated for cancer.

Jackie Battley Gingrich has rarely spoken publicly about the divorce, in which the couple agreed to a settlement three months after her then-husband's filing.

She told The Washington Post in 1985, "He can say that we had been talking about it for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise."

Separately, Ron Paul's campaign office denied allegations by a former aide that the GOP hopeful is "intolerant" of Spanish speakers, and is anti-Israel and anti-Israeli, personally uncomfortable around homosexuals and "out of touch" with black and Hispanic culture.

"Eric Dondero is a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said in an e-mail to CBS News. "He has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously."

Dondero told CBS News he categorically denied being fired by Paul.

"I dispute that vehemently," he said. "I'll take him to court over that if that's what he's saying."

Dondero wrote in Monday that Paul -- who has recently fended off criticism about a 1990s newsletter he published called The Ron Paul Survival Report that contained racist language -- was not a racist, homophobic or an anti-Semite.

Dondero alleged Paul told him the United States had no business "fighting Hitler" in World War II.

"He expressed to me countless times that 'saving the Jews' was absolutely none of our business," said Dondero, a senior Paul aide from 1997 to 2003.

Dondero's bio says he was also a campaign coordinator in 1995-96, a Draft Ron Paul for President national organizer in 1991-92 and a personal assistant to Paul in 1987-88.

He called on Paul in 2007 to resign his congressional seat for his "treacherous and near treasonous" foreign-policy views, a United Press International search indicated.

Dondero said he would run against Paul for his congressional seat "if another Republican candidate does not declare against him."

"I am the guy that got Ron Paul elected to Congress in 1996. I can and will defeat him in 2008," he wrote in 2007.

In his latest allegations, he said Paul is not anti-Semitic but is "most certainly anti-Israel and anti-Israeli in general."

"He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations," Dondero wrote.

Paul supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, Dondero said. But he is "personally uncomfortable around homosexuals, no different from a lot of older folks of his era," he wrote.

And while Dondero said Paul was not racist, he said he knew him as "'out of touch' with both Hispanic and Black culture[s]."

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