By the time Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne’s tell-all interview aired on ABC News, the damage — if there was going to be any — was already done.
The former House Speaker’s former wife told ABC News that Newt Gingrich asked her for an “open marriage” and told her that his mistress and current wife Callista was going to help him become president one day. “It didn’t look like help to me,” Marianne said of Callista.
Marianne Gingrich told ABC News’ Brian Ross that Newt Gingrich cheated on her with Callista in their bedroom. Marianne also said that Newt knew, because of her Multiple Sclerosis, she wasn’t supposed to be under stress.
At a rowdy Republican debate ahead of South Carolina’s primary, CNN debate moderate John King pressed Newt Gingrich on his relationship with Marianne. Gingrich vehemently denied the story. “It’s simply not true,” he said, calling CNN “despicable” for even bringing it up.
“Every person in here knows personal pain,” Gingrich said. “Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”
The audience burst into wild applause at Newt’s anti-media tirade.
The Drudge Report first broke the news of Marianne’s interview Wednesday evening. Drudge teased the “bombshell” interview and ABC News’ internal “civil war” over when to air the clip. Brian Ross defended the network’s decision to run it Thursday, saying airing it any later would interfere with the weekend’s election. And what a day Thursday ended up being for the Republican candidates. Rick Perry bowed out of the race and offered Gingrich his endorsement, Gingrich by all accounts was in top form at the evening’s debate and a new PPP poll shows the candidate with a six-point lead in South Carolina. While Marianne’s words are damning, it appears Newt Gingrich is still on a roll.
Watch a clip of the interview below:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com