Posted at 09:15 AM ET, 01/26/2012

Newt Gingrich misspoke in attack against media on open marriage question

It was one of the highlights of the South Carolina debate: Newt Gingrich fielding a question about one of his failed marriages, lashing out at the media, stirring the debate audience to its feet and going on to win the South Carolina primary in a landslide.

The Gingrich campaign has conceded that the candidate misspoke when he accused ABC of not airing interviews with any of the people his campaign had recommend who could challenge the claims of his ex-wife that he asked for an open marriage. Gingrich's campaign has now admitted that it didn't offer any such people for interviews, beyond his daughters from a previous marriage.

Republican presidential candidate former House speaker Newt Gingrich makes a point during the opening question of a debate at the North Charleston Coliseum Jan. 19., in South Carolina. (John Moore - GETTY IMAGES)
"The story is false," Gingrich told CNN's John King at the debate last week in Charleston, S.C.. "Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested because they would like to attack any Republican."

The Gingrich campaign conceded Wednesday that the only two people it offered to ABC were Gingrich's two daughters from his first marriage (not Marianne Gingrich’s daughters). ABC contacted both of them and they said on air that Marianne Gingrich’s allegations were false.

What's unclear is whether Gingrich's advisers told him otherwise.When asked Thursday morning to explain the misstatement Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond replied: “I’m not talking about ABC anymore. I’m sick of talking about ABC. It’s a week old.”

At the debate, Gingrich went on to call King "despicable" for opening the debate with a question about Gingrich's marital history. And in an interview this week with King, he said it was "just plain baloney" that that his campaign hadn't offered any other contacts beyond his daughters. But he faltered a little, looking off camera at his staff and saying: "I'll check with R.C. Hammond in a minute, but if they're saying that, they're just not being honest."

In a CNN report Wednesday, King said: "The Gingrich campaign concedes now that Speaker Gingrich was wrong, both in his debate answer and in our interview yesterday. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hamond says the only people the campaign offered to ABC were the speaker's two daughters from his first marriage."

By  |  09:15 AM ET, 01/26/2012

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