Marianne Gingrich to ABC News’ Brian Ross: ‘I stand by my story’

Dylan Stableford
The Ticket

Marianne Gingrich said late Thursday that she is standing by the explosive allegations--revealed in an interview with ABC News--that her ex-husband Newt Gingrich asked her to agree to an open marriage before their divorce.

Her comments came after Gingrich blasted CNN's John King at a Republican debate in Charleston, South Carolina for asking if he wanted to respond to the allegations made by Marianne, his second wife.

"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," a fiery Gingrich responded to King during the debate's opening moments. "And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that."

"Let me be quite clear," Gingrich added. "The story is false."

"My story is the truth," Marianne Gingrich said after watching Thursday's debate, according to Ross. "If [Newt] had really changed he could have stepped up tonight and said he was sorry. He never has."

It was Marianne Gingrich's first television interview since the 1999 divorce, capping off what was easily the wildest day of the 2012 presidential race.

"You know his secrets?" Ross asked her during the pre-taped "Nightline" interview that aired Thursday night.

"I know some of them," she said.

According to Marianne, Gingrich--after admitting to having a six-year affair with a Congressional aide--asked if she would "share him" with the other woman, Callista, Gingrich's then-mistress, now-wife.

"And I just stared at him and he said, 'Callista doesn't care what I do,'" Marianne told Ross. "He wanted an open marriage and I refused."

According to Marianne, the former House speaker carried on the affair at their apartment in Washington, D.C., while concurrently criticizing then-President Bill Clinton for his own indiscretions.

Marianne told ABC that Gingrich asked for a divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, while she was being treated for cancer; Marianne said her relationship with Gingrich began while he was still married to Jackie, but the two were in divorce proceedings.

Newt Gingrich declined to be interviewed for the "Nightline" piece, according to ABC. But two daughters from his first marriage--Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman--agreed to talk.

"The truth is, or father and Marianne had a very difficult marriage," Lubbers said. "They had a difficult divorce. The American people have moved on. Our father has moved on."

"I know he did try hard for many years to make the marriage work," Cushman added. "He is a much different person than he was then. He's closer to God now. This happened a very long time ago."

After the debate, CNN's King defended the "open marriage" question. "You're damned if you do, damned if you dont," King said in an on air discussion. "It is an issue. Am I happy it came up 48 hours before the primary? Of course not."

King said the decision to ask Gingrich about the allegations was "mine alone."

After the debate, Gingrich told Anderson Cooper: "I thought John did a great job. It was direct. It was tough."

Watch Newt's response during the CNN debate below:

Other popular Yahoo! News stories:
No joke: Stephen Colbert ahead of Gary Johnson in national poll
Debates depress early campaign ad spends, but 2012 could still break records
Ron Paul continues assault on the media

Want more of our best political stories? Visit The Ticket or connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us on Tumblr.

Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.