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Gingrich Blasts CNN, ABC Over Ex-Wife’s Tale: ‘I am astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate’

At the start of tonight’s GOP debate at the North Charleston Coliseum, moderator John King asked Newt Gingrich about the ABC News interview in which Gingrich’s second wife claims Newt asked her to engage in an open marriage. Not only did he deny it, he bawled out King and CNN for daring ask about it:

“I think 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. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”

After much applause, Gingrich continued, “To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”

Gingrich said his two daughters wrote the head of ABC “and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am, frankly, astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.”

King jumped in, “As you noted, Mr. Speaker, this story did not come from our network. As you also know, it is the subject of conversation on the campaign…”

“John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t blame it on somebody else. You and your staff chose to start the debate with it,” Gingrich said, to more applause. “Now, let me be quite clear. The story is false. 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. I’m tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking republicans.”

With that Gingrich got a standing ovation from the crowd, and King moved on asking each candidate whether this should be an issue in the campaign. While Rick Santorum and Ron Paul gave measured responses, Mitt Romney said: “John, let’s get on to the real issues. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Video after the jump…

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