Forget about potentially losing the evangelical vote in South Carolina. Marianne Gingrich's interview on ABC News tonight puts her ex-husband's presidential campaign in jeopardy with a much bigger segment of the electorate in South Carolina -- women. Be they evangelical, Catholic or agnostic, women are going to see in Marianne Gingrich a highly sympathetic version of that American classic -- the middle-aged woman abandoned by her ambition-addled husband for a younger version of herself. The fact that he heaped injury onto insult by asking her for an open marriage, so that he could keep both his marriage and his young mistress, makes it highly unlikely that women will be willing to overlook Newt Gingrich's character and vote for him on the economy.
Although most of what Marianne Gingrich has to say about her ex was reported in 2010 in a long interview with Esquire, her decision to say it on television, just two days before the South Carolina primary, is potential dynamite. One has to wonder whether she waited for precisely this moment to drop the bomb, when in all probability she had multiple interview requests over the several months that Gingrich has been in the race for the Republican nomination for president. If revenge is a dish best served cold, she made sure she reached into the fridge at just the right moment.
Her claim that Gingrich requested an open marriage is believable, given the candidate's reputation for grandiosity and for, well, his ability to dream up novel approaches to problems. When Gingrich admitted his six-year affair with Callista, while he was the House speaker and she was a congressional aide, Marianne Gingrich said she pleaded with her husband that they had been married for 18 years.