Newt Gingrich has been accused of hypocrisy on family values by some gay rights leaders in reaction to his ex-wife's new accusation that he asked for an open marriage before divorcing her. But Gingrich said "the story is false" during Thursday's Republican presidential debate.
Then Gingrich spent most of his time attacking CNN for even asking about his ex-wife's accusation.
"I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," Gingrich told moderator John King after it was the first question of the night. Gingrich wagged his finger at the host as the crowd went wild with applause.
"I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate," lectured Gingrich, who has at several times during the campaign attacked debate moderators with the audience enjoying every bit.
Gingrich said he'd offered ABC's Nightline -- which is airing the interview with Marianne Gingrich tonight -- a list of the former couple's personal friends who are willing to come forward and refute the story.
In a clip distributed by ABC News today, though, Marianne Gingrich appears to be describing a private moment, not one that any friend would have known about.
The rest of the GOP candidates avoided the topic when asked whether the former speaker of the House's three marriages should be considered by the voting public.
Rick Santorum, who learned today that he actually got more votes in the Iowa primary than Mitt Romney, said the personal lives of candidates ought to be debated. But he said the country will overlook personal mistakes.
"This country is a very forgiving country, this country understands that we are all fallen," he said, striking a religious theme.
Ron Paul pointed out his own wife of 54 years while making the case that the media is out of control in its supposed attacks on the candidates.
"What about the corporations that run the media?" he asked, complaining simultaneously about corporate money in politics.
Romney avoided the topic altogether: "Let's get onto the real issues, is all I've got to say."
Newt Gingrich on Open Marriage Accusation: "The Story is False"