Phony e-mails say Gingrich forced abortion on ex-wife

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich listens to staff during visit to Children's Hospital, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, in Charleston, S.C. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

gingrich fake email abortion
CBS

Updated 5:31 p.m. Eastern Time

Newt Gingrich's campaign says a press release that appears to come the campaign "regarding reports that he forced ex-wife Marianne Gingrich to terminate a pregnancy" is a fake.

The fake press release, which you can see above, came from an email address in which the "1" in 2012 is replaced by what appears to be a lower-case "L." A search of an online web registry shows that someone registered "newt20l2.org" (with the lowercase L) today. Their name was withheld.

The fake release, in which Gingrich is quoted as saying "I have made mistakes in my life. This was one of them," comes on the heels of a fake CNN Breaking News alert sent overnight to Republicans in South Carolina, which holds its primary tomorrow.  The false email claimed that "[a] source close to Marianne Gingrich tells CNN that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich forced her to abort a pregnancy conceived during the affair that preceeded her marriage to Gingrich."

Marianne Gingrich, the former House Speaker's second wife, told ABC News and the Washington Post this week that Gingrich asked her to participate in an "open marriage."She did not allege that Gingrich forced her to abort a pregnancy.

(At left, CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli breaks down a crazy week in the GOP nomination battle.)

Gingrich addressed the emails at a media availability in South Carolina Friday afternoon, calling it "unfortunate" that "there are elements in American politics who are negative, dishonest and to use a word I used last night, despicable."

"If we can find out who they are - and I don't know if there's any sanction - but if we find out who they are I would urge the government to prosecute them," he added. "I am sick of the kind of dishonest campaigns that we see when people go out and fake somebody else's material for the purpose of causing trouble 24 hours before a primary. This is not worthy of our children and grandchildren. It's not worthy of America. It's not funny. It's not a game. It undermines our capacity to govern ourselves. And I think frankly those folks, if you can find out who they are, should be prosecuted."

South Carolina is famous for its rough-and-tumble politics, which include a whisper campaign ahead of the 2000 primary falsely claiming that John McCain had fathered an African-American child out of wedlock. In 2008, Republicans in the state received a fake Christmas card, ostensibly from Mitt Romney, that endorsed polygamy and spotlighted Romney's Mormon faith.

A new Clemson University poll shows Gingrich has the lead in South Carolina with 32 percent. Romney comes in second with 26 percent, while Rep. Ron Paul places third at 11 percent and former Sen. Rick Santorum places fourth with 9 percent.

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