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Story highlights

Donald Trump spent as a premier New York tabloid curiosity, a billionaire real-estate developer whose marital misadventures routinely filled the city's scandal sheets

"I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think," Trump said

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump spent decades as a premier New York tabloid curiosity, a billionaire real-estate developer whose marital misadventures routinely filled the city’s scandal sheets.

But he told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union” that those wild days are past and that he now enjoys a “very great relationship with God” and “a very great relationship” with the evangelical Christian voters so important to candidates in Iowa.

“I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think,” Trump said. “I’m talking about over the last number of years, I’m leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life and I have. And frankly, (it’s) the reason I’m doing so well in Iowa.”

Trump, now married to his third wife, Melania, for nearly 11 years, first got hitched in 1977 to another glamorous European model, Ivana Zelnickova. They had three children, including daughter Ivanka, now a successful businesswoman in her own right.

But Trump’s marriage exploded in 1990, and rumors filled the gossip pages that he’d not quite lived up to his vows.

Donald Trump dips Marla Maples after the couple married in a private ceremony amid tight security at the Plaza Hotel December 20, 1993, following a six-year courtship.
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Donald Trump dips Marla Maples after the couple married in a private ceremony amid tight security at the Plaza Hotel December 20, 1993, following a six-year courtship.

By 1993, though, Trump was back at the altar, this time with Marla Maples, who was once quoted on the cover of the New York Post calling her future husband “the best sex I ever had.” The were married at the Plaza Hotel, with O.J. Simpson and Liza Minelli among the celebrity guests.

This time, the relationship ended after fewer than four years, and the divorce was finalized in 1999.

Asked by Tapper last June how he could oppose same-sex marriage despite his own marital difficulties, Trump conceded his critics had “a very good point” but also suggested a heavy work schedule had skewed his priorities.

“I’ve had – actually I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now. My two wives were very good. And I don’t blame them, but I was working, maybe like you, 22 hours a day,” he said. “I blame myself because my business was so powerful for me. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.”

Despite polling well with evangelicals, Trump has been criticized by multiple evangelicals for his rhetoric and values.

Trump has also said in the past that the Bible is his favorite book, though he declined over the summer to share his favorite verses, saying it was a personal matter. Trump, who once referred to communion as “my little wine and my little cracker,” was asked if he prefers the New or Old Testaments.

“Probably equal. I think it’s just incredible,” he said on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect” in August.

CNN’s Eugene Scott contributed to this report.