The documents seem to contradict Gingrich’s contention that it was his then-wife Jackie Battley, not him, that wanted the divorce.

A former friend backed this up, saying that Gingrich told him Battley wasn’t “young enough” or “pretty enough” to be the wife of a president.

The CNN story comes at a critical time, just a week before voters in Iowa caucus in the first contest of the 2012 presidential cycle. Gingrich has been at the top of some recent polls, but has been damaged by attacks from his rivals in recent days.

Gingrich’s marital history has long been seen as a possible vulnerability, particularly in Iowa where social conservatives are a force.

Gingrich has long battled rumors that he served divorce papers to Battley while she was recovering from cancer.

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