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Campaign: Gingrich inaccurate during debate clash over ex-wife

Gingrich slams CNN for asking about ex-wife
GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich slammed CNN host John King for asking about an explosive ABC News report claiming the he asked his former wife for an "open marriage."

Newt Gingrich's campaign is now admitting the candidate made a false claim during a dramatic debate confrontationlast week with a moderator who brought up claims by his ex-wife that he had sought an "open marriage."

When Gingrich was asked in the January 19 debate, shortly before he won the South Carolina primary, about his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich's claims, he unloaded on moderator John King of CNN. The former House speaker decried "the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media" and saying the question was "as close to despicable as anything I can imagine."

Gingrich's attack on King was met with a standing ovation from the audience, and exit polls out of South Carolina suggested his debate performance was a significant driver of his double-digit victory there.

"The story was false," Gingrich went on to say. "Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story is false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false." ABC News is the network that aired an interview with Marianne Gingrich in which she made the "open marriage" claim.

After ABC News subsequently said the Gingrich campaign had not, in fact, offered friends of Gingrich to rebut the story, Gingrich on Tuesday told CNN that claim was "baloney."

"If they're saying that, then they're not being honest," Gingrich said, claiming that ABC News "wasn't interested" in talking to the "several people" the campaign had offered to rebut the story.

On Thursday morning, however, CNN reported that Gingrich's claims were false, according to the Gingrich campaign. CNN reported that Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond acknowledged that the campaign only offered Gingrich's two daughters to ABC News to rebut the story, not "several" friends of the candidate.

Hammond did not immediately respond to an email requesting a confirmation of the CNN report.