Gingrich Camp Responds to Ex-Wife’s Interview
Anticipating a potentially damaging interview with one of Newt Gingrich’s former wives ahead of the South Carolina primary, the Gingrich campaign issued an open letter on Wednesday night to “ABC News leadership,” the network that conducted the interview, in preparation for a Thursday night broadcast.
Marianne Gingrich, the second of Mr. Gingrich’s former wives, was married to him for 18 years. After they divorced, Mr. Gingrich married his current wife, the former Callista Bisek, with whom he admitted conducting a lengthy affair while he was still married.
Word of the interview was leaked to The Drudge Report, which reported on Wednesday afternoon that a debate was taking place within ABC over whether it was fair to broadcast it so close to the crucial primary in South Carolina on Saturday.
An ABC source confirmed there was disagreement over the timing of the interview, which was conducted by Brian Ross of the investigative unit, which operates separately from the political news division.
The push-back on ABC from the Gingrich campaign was in the form of a letter signed by Mr. Gingrich’s two daughters from his first marriage, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman, who regularly accompany him on the stump.
“ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election,” they wrote, adding that their father’s campaign would concentrate on issues important to voters.
“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,” the statement continued. “He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.”
An ABC News spokesman confirmed Wednesday night that “Nightline” will broadcast the interview at 11:35 p.m. Thursday; excerpts will be released earlier in the day, before a Republican debate sponsored by CNN on Thursday evening.
In a long interview with Esquire in 2010, Marianne Gingrich did not reveal anything that qualified as a bombshell or a threat to Mr. Gingrich’s political future; she mainly offered a candid take on a well-known public personality, explaining, for example: “Newt always wanted to be somebody. That was his vulnerability, do you understand? Being treated important.”