WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ABC News is disputing Newt Gingrich’s charge that the network declined to interview witnesses who would have challenged an allegation that the Republican presidential hopeful asked his second wife, Marianne, for an “open marriage” in the late 1990s.
The allegations by Marianne Gingrich were aired on ABC late Thursday. In an interview, she alleged that while she was married to Gingrich, he told her he was having an affair and wanted to stay married while continuing the affair.
The other woman in Gingrich’s life was Callista Bisek, then a congressional aide and now his third wife.
Marianne Gingrich’s claims were the basis for the most explosive moment in Thursday night’s Republican debate ahead of South Carolina’s presidential primary Saturday.
Gingrich bristled when CNN debate moderator John King asked about the allegations.
“Let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false,” Gingrich said. “Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said 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.”
Jeffrey Schneider, a spokesman for ABC News, said the network had told Gingrich and his staff it wanted to interview any witnesses or surrogates offered by Gingrich.
Instead, the only such people offered by the Gingrich camp to the network were Gingrich’s daughters, Schneider and other ABC personnel said.
Gingrich maintained Friday that ABC had not sought such comment.
Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Peter Cooney