CHARLESTON, S.C. — Talk about a scolding.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich slammed CNN’s John King for beginning Thursday’s presidential debate by asking him about his ex-wife’s recent claims that he requested an “open” marriage allowing him to have a girlfriend on the side.
Asked by King if he’d like to explain his side, Gingrich coldly responded, “No. But I will.”
The former House speaker then went on to blast the “destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media.”
“I’m frankly astounded that CNN would take a question like that and use it to open a presidential debate,” Gingrich lectured King.
The crowd applauded Gingrich, even giving him a standing ovation at one point.
“Every person in here knows personal pain,” he said. “Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. 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 continued to hammer CNN, especially after King pointed out that the story about his ex-wife Marianne did not originate on his network.
“John, it was repeated by your network,” Gingrich replied. “You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else.”
Gingrich finally said the story is “false.”
King gave the three other candidates a chance to speak on the issue, though none used the opportunity to criticize him or Gingrich. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he wanted to talk about substantive issues instead.