Will ABC News interview with ex-wife Marianne Gingrich hobble Newt in South Carolina?
It might be the worst news Newt Gingrich could get two days before a do-or-die primary election in South Carolina -- despite former rival Rick Perry's decision this morning to drop out and endorse him for president.
Marianne Gingrich, who the presidential candidate famously divorced after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, has given an interview to ABC News where she claims he wanted an "open marriage," where he could be with her and mistress Callista Bisek, now the latest Mrs. Gingrich.
"And I just stared at him and he said, 'Callista doesn't care what I do,'" Marianne Gingrich told ABC News. "He wanted an open marriage and I refused."
The question is whether the words of a long-ago wife, divorced in 2000, will shake the electorate. Newt Gingrich's personal life has always seemed like a liability -- he divorced his first wife, who was originally his high school geometry teacher, while she was undergoing cancer treatments.
According to ABC News, Marianne Gingrich says her ex-husband doesn't have the moral character to be president. But his current wife and children have been strong supporters on the campaign trail, allowing the candidate to talk loftily about family values even as he tried downplaying three marriages and two affairs.
The conservative-oriented Drudge Report web site quoted anonymous sources saying a "civil war" had broken out at ABC News, which planned to hold the interview until after the South Carolina balloting. As news spread of that report, the network told the Associated Press the interview would air at 11:30 p.m. tonight on Nightline, days before the Saturday election.
According to a press release from ABC News: "Marianne described her "shock" at Gingrich's behavior, including how she says she learned he conducted his affair with Callista "in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington. He always called me at night and always ended with 'I love you.' Well, she was listening."
All this happened, she said, during the same time Gingrich condemned President Bill Clinton for his lack of moral leadership. She said Newt moved for the divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. "He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew," she said.
Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer. His relationship with Marianne began while he was still married to Jackie but in divorce proceedings, Marianne said."
A clip from the interview is below: