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Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 02/11/2012

Callista Gingrich talks up Newt at CPAC

The platinum hair still appears welded in place, a topiary bouffant with a Nike-like side swoop. Her face is finely sculpted and deftly made up.  Three strands of pearls — no cheap-shot Tiffany jokes, please — circle her graceful neck, and a fitted red jacket and black ca
Callista Gingrich introduces her husband, GOP presidential candidate and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington on Friday. (Win McNamee - GETTY IMAGES)
misole provide flattering contrast to her ivory skin.

But the most notable physical aspect of Callista Gingrich’s introduction of her husband to the CPAC faithful was that for more than three minutes, her lips moved and words came out of her mouth.

It’s about time. She is, by many accounts, a woman with brains, talent and ambition: a member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, a French horn player with a community band in Virginia and the author of a children’s book.

She is also an executive of the couple’s many for-profit ventures, meaning that all those late-night comedy portrayals of her as a home-wrecking Stepford Wife must have started to grate on a campaign that only now is starting to deploy her as a surrogate.

Those in the vast hotel ballroom hoping for some sort of weepy apology from the former Other Woman got only an oblique allusion to the domestic baggage the two have carried around since their affair while he was House Speaker and she was an Ag Committee staffer.   

“When we decided to run, we knew there would be tough stories from the media as well as hurtful attacks from some of our opponents,” she said. “What we didn’t know was how kind so many Americans would be to us.”  She thanked everyone who has reached out to the beleaguered duo, telling the audience “you have made our lives richer
Newt Gingrich is kissed by his wife, Callista, before addressing the CPAC conference Friday. (J. Scott Applewhite - AP)
and our campaign stronger.”

Then she revealed a few innocuous things “you may be surprised to hear” about Hubby, whom she called “very supportive” for attending her choir and band performances. He’s also “an enthusiastic and committed golfer” who has spent inordinate time working his way out of sand traps, which may or may not have been a metaphor for this roller-coaster campaign. 

Speaking in precise sentences, the third Mrs. G talked about the couple’s work together, including making films that extol conservative values and principles. 

If the one-liners sounded corny or just plain flat, remember this is unfamiliar territory for a woman who had previously seemed content to perfect the Nancy Reagan adoring gaze.

In speaking up for their men, Karen Santorum and Ann Romney have better talking points than she does among Family Values voters: faithful first husbands and many children. Callista Gingrich mentioned her two adult stepdaughters by her spouse’s first wife — Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman — who have been vocal defenders of their father.  

Less than four minutes after she took to the stage, Callista Gingrich turned the microphone over to her candidate and, slipping off to the side, resumed the role of transfixed helpmeet.

Annie Groer is a former Washington Post staffer who writes widely about politics, culture and design. Her work has appeared in PoliticsDaily.Com, More, TheAtlantic.com and the New York Times. She is at work on a memoir.

By  |  02:23 PM ET, 02/11/2012

Tags:  Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, CPAC

 
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