By Jonathan Easley - 01/19/12 03:49 PM EST
In an explosive interview, Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne Gingrich, says the former House Speaker wanted an “open marriage,” but that she refused.
Her revelation comes as the presidential contender is closing in on front-runner Mitt Romney ahead of South Carolina's GOP primary. With Rick Perry bowing out of the race, Gingrich has a chance to consolidate some conservative support in South Carolina, but the interview with his ex-wife could damage his campaign.
Marianne Gingrich says in the interview that her husband wanted an open marriage so that he could remain married but continue a romantic involvement with a congressional aide who eventually became his third wife, Callista Gingrich.
“No, no, that is not a marriage,” Marianne Gingrich added, according to a transcript of the ABC News interview. The interview is scheduled to air Thursday night.
According to the partial transcript, Marianne Gingrich said Gingrich and Callista conducted their affair “in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington."
"He always called me at night," she said, "and always ended with 'I love you.' Well, she was listening."
She contends that the affair was ongoing while Gingrich, who was then Speaker of the House, was openly rebuking President Clinton for his affair.
Gingrich said that his daughters had sent a letter to ABC News criticizing the decision to air the interview "as wrong" and referred any media questions about the matter to them.
"My two daughters Kathy and Jackie have sent a letter to the president of ABC News, saying from a family perspective they think this is totally wrong," he said. "They think ABC should not air anything like this and that intruding into family things that are more, that are more than a decade old are simply wrong."
The new allegations come as polls show Gingrich surging in South Carolina.
The former House Speaker is also hoping to get a bump from the endorsement of Perry.