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Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, surging once again on the eve of the South Carolina primary, found his freewheeling personal life under scrutiny Thursday with explosive allegations from a former wife that he wanted an “open marriage” so he could sleep with other women.
When John King, moderator of Thursday night’s CNN debate, opened the forum with a question about open marriage, an obviously agitated Gingrich went on the attack.
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. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.
But the question that voters will have to answer is whether or not they can support a candidate who preaches family values after dumping two wives to marry his mistresses and admits for a life once filled with numerous sexual partners while married.
Second wife Marianne Gingrich, who had an affair with Gingrich before he dumped wife number one and married her, told ABC News “Nightline” Thursday that her husband wanted an “open marriage” that would allow him to sleep around.
“He was asking to have an open marriage and I refused,” the former Mrs. Gingrich said.
An angry Gingrich denied the allegations.
“Ask anyone I know,” he responded.
Capitol Hill Blue asked a number of people who knew and worked with Gingrich during his second marriage and they weren’t surprised that he might have asked for an open marriage.
“Newt screwed any willing thing in a skirt,” says Anne Nolan, a former campaign aide. “If she was the least bit attractive and showed an interest he was ready to hop into bed.”
Other former aides said Gingrich openly propositioned women by claiming he and his wife had an open marriage.
“He tried to talk me into oral sex one time,” says a former female House aide who asked not to be identified. ” When I told him I didn’t get involved with married men he just laughed and said ‘don’t worry, my wife knows. We have an open marriage.’ ”
A woman who once worked with GoPAC, Gingrich’s political action committee, said the former Speaker of the House “came on to her” and other women who worked with the organization.
“He was like a jackrabbit in heat,” she said. “He didn’t like being turned down and he would persist.”