Thursday night’s debate among Republican candidates got off to a fiery start when Newt Gingrich was asked about his ex-wife’s claims, in a newly released ABC News interview, that he asked her to agree to an “open marriage” when he was caught having an affair.
Gingrich shot back that the story is false. “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office,” he said. “And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”
I agree that it was bad choice by CNN’s John King to start with that question. But the issue is certainly relevant given the candidate’s campaign themes of restoring America’s cultural and moral footing – and his willingness to point out the ethical lapses of other candidates, namely Mitt Romney. Why is Newt’s failure to come clean on how he cheated in his marriage any less relevant than Romney’s failure to come clean on his taxes?
Nevertheless, many political analysts today seem to think that the way the question was asked and Gingrich’s fiery response will help him more than hurt him in Saturday’s primary in South Carolina. Given how the crowd at the North Charleston Coliseum rose to its feet and shouted support for Newt’s answer, they may be right.
- Paul Gullixson