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South Carolina voters will get one last look at the now four-man GOP field on the debate stage Thursday night before Saturday’s primary. Afterward, many will get their first look at Newt Gingrich’s second wife, who has some less-than-flattering things to say about the man who cheated on her with another woman whom he later married.
Marianne Gingrich sat down for her first television interview of the campaign cycle with ABC’s Brian Ross, and – reportedly after much discussion – the network will air a small portion of it on ABC World News, which will be on prior to the CNN debate, and then the full interview on Nightline, which will air after the final Palmetto State debate.
With political blogs abuzz about the possibly explosive interview, ABC published some excerpts Thursday morning to capitalize on the excitement and, no doubt, to secure some prominent exposure during the CNN debate.
Here’s ABC’s lede, which more or less sums the interview up:
Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.
But then there’s also this: Marianne suggests that Gingrich sought an "open marriage" so he could have both a mistress and a wife. She says that the request came after he admitted to having a 6-year affair with a congressional aide (who is now his current wife, Callista).
"I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do,’ " Marianne said. "He wanted an open marriage and I refused."
You can read the full ABC News story here.
Gingrich's camp looked to deflect some of the damage from the interview by releasing a letter from his daughters, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman, who, as Politico notes, have become his most vocal surrogates in answering questions about their family.
Here's the letter:
The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved. Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events.
We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife. He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.
ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election. But Newt is going to talk to the people of South Carolina about the future– about job creation, lower taxes, and about who can defeat Barack Obama by providing the sharpest contrast to his damaging, extreme liberalism. We are confident this is the conversation the people of South Carolina are interested in having.
Our father is running for President because of his grandchildren – so they can inherit the America he loves. To do that, President Obama must be defeated. And as the only candidate in the race, including Obama, who has actually helped balance the national budget, create jobs, reform welfare, and cut taxes and spending, Newt felt compelled to run - to serve his country and safeguard his grandchildren's future.