MASON CITY, Iowa — Callista Gingrich, the wife of presidential contender Newt Gingrich, is debuting a video this week in which she pushes an issue near and dear to her heart: musical education.
But the video does more than reveal a likely platform for Gingrich if she becomes the next first lady; it shows how much more involved she has become in her husband’s presidential campaign.
The video will be promoted and distributed by the campaign to give voters a more intimate look at Callista Gingrich and her interests — something the campaign has wanted to do for some time.
This week, Callista Gingrich, 45, is traveling across Iowa with her husband on an eight-day bus tour that will end in Des Moines on Tuesday, when voters turn out for the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
The bus tour actually began in Wisconsin, at the home Callista grew up in, so that her mother, Bernita Bisek, could see the bus. Bisek, 79, was going to join the tour for a few days but decided against it because of the rigors of the campaign. But Callista Gingrich said that she is watching the campaign closely and that Newt Gingrich is “a very good son-in-law” who e-mails Bisek regularly.
Callista Gingrich also introduced her husband at a stop in Decorah, Iowa, on Tuesday — in the pizza joint, Mabe’s (which serves delicious thin-crust pizza, in the middle of the Iowa heartland), that she lived above during her senior year at nearby Luther College.
Campaign officials say they believe that deploying Callista Gingrich on the trail helps humanize the former speaker and move past the story of how the couple’s relationship began (as an affair, while Newt Gingrich was still married to his second wife).
Gingrich plays the French horn and the piano and sings professionally in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. She has been working on the two-minute video for weeks, putting it together with Gingrich Productions, the multimedia production company her husband turned over to her when he launched his presidential bid.
In the video, Gingrich laments the decline in musical education in public schools. She doesn’t offer specifics about the decline — or specific solutions. Instead, she explains the value of music in her own life as footage unfolds of children playing the piano, violin and guitar and of her playing the French horn and singing.
“Music is a lifetime gift,” she says in the video. “To eliminate music from our schools is to diminish a large part of our cultural experience. Together we can work to support music education in our nation’s schools and preserve our cultural identity.”
Gingrich is also promoting a new feature that will debut today on Newt Gingrich’s campaign Web site: “Pets With Newt.”