BEAUFORT, SC — Voters here in coastal South Carolina don’t seem too bothered with the salacious “bombshell” stories Marianne Gingrich is expected to tell on Nightline on Thursday night. They may not all vote for Newt Gingrich, but they all agree that voters here won’t be moved by stories of a 68 year-old former House Speaker’s sex life.
After all, they told me, have you seen what’s on TV these days?
“I think after the blue dress, and Clinton, it doesn’t matter anymore, You know?” said Barbara Thompson, a retired school teacher waiting in line to shake Gingrich’s hand after his second stop of the day in Beaufort.
Thompson is undecided (she’s picking between Gingrich and Mitt Romney) but she said whatever Marianne has to say won’t sway her, or really have much of an impact here thanks to a change in the “standards” in the country.
“I don’t think it will hurt at all,” she told me. “Things have changed, everybody has friends whose daughters aren’t married and have children. Everything has changed.”
Robert de Treville, who told me his family has been in Beaufort since the 1700s, stood at the back of the Gingrich event here, wearing a camouflage jacket and a Gadsden flag pin. He’s a a strong Gingrich supporter, and also said that the changing culture means most voters will barely raise an eyebrow at the new tales of Gingrich’s infidelity.
“I think that people have become numbed to some extent because of the changes in the media and the movies and the television shows,” he told me. They’ve become kind of a little bit less concerned about personal relationships and that aspect of our lives.”
He raised the 42nd president’s name, too.
“I think a lot of people are going to see through it,” de Treville told me when I asked him about the upcoming interview. “I mean you look at Bill Clinton and his peccadilloes. And you see how people were affected by that. And they understood that he was human. And Newt is human.
This isn’t exactly the most evangelical part of the state (I was hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t a snowbird or retiree from another part of the country at two Gingrich coastal stops Thursday), but the one evangelical I did run into said she’ll stick by Gingrich no matter what Marianne says because of her faith, rather than question her support for him because of it.
“I’m a Christian and I believe that that’s not my job, to judge someone on their past behavior,” Deeni Everly told me. She said she’s been following his career from the beginning (“when I was a teenager”) and doesn’t think it’s her place to question his personal behavior.
“He’s asked for forgiveness, he’s received forgiveness from God so he’s received my forgiveness,” she said.
What about other voters? I asked. Will they feel the same way?
“I hope so and I believe so in the state of South Carolina because you have a mass of Christian people here,” Everly said. “And I believe if you truly look at your own self, if you — whoever has no sin, throw the first stone at him.”
Even a Romney voter didn’t think the Marianne interview has legs. I spoke to one at Gingrich’s first event in Bluffton — he asked to remain anonymous because he was an official with the Sun City Republican Club, which hosted Gingrich today as well as other candidates in the past.
“I think most people have made up their minds how they’re going to vote,” he said. “And anything they hear now, unless is the guy is shot or something, I don’t think it’s going to make much difference. The lines are pretty well drawn.”
David Salkin, a retired New York City school teacher wearing a Newt 2012 sticker at the Bluffton event, agreed that voters in South Carolina aren’t interested in Marianne’s tale. But he said there’s another recent ABC story that might cause someone else some trouble come Saturday’s primary vote.
“I think Romney keeping $100 million in the Bahamas…is more important,” Salkin told me.