Marianne Gingrich has said Gingrich proposed to her before the divorce from his first wife was final in 1981; they were married six months later. Her marriage to Gingrich ended in divorce in 2000, and Gingrich has admitted he'd already taken up with Bisek, the former congressional aide who would become his third wife. The speaker who pilloried President Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky was himself having an affair at the time.
A Gingrich spokesman suggested, as Gingrich's daughters had a day earlier, that Marianne Gingrich's comments may be suspect given the emotional toll divorce takes on everyone involved.
"Divorces are very tough and people have very different recollections of how things happen," R.C. Hammond said Thursday.
Equally uncertain was whether Gingrich would get a boost from Perry's endorsement, given that the Texas governor had little support in the state, and get conservative voters to coalesce behind his candidacy. Complicating Gingrich's effort is another conservative, Rick Santorum, who threatens to siphon his support.
A CNN/Time South Carolina poll released Wednesday showed Gingrich in second place with support from 23 percent of likely primary voters, having gained 5 percentage points in the past two weeks. Romney led in the poll with 33 percent, but he had slipped some since the last survey. Santorum was third, narrowly ahead of Texas Rep. Ron Paul and well ahead of Perry.
Regardless of the South Carolina outcome, Gingrich was making plans to compete in Florida's primary on Jan. 31.
Confidence exuded from Gingrich, who rose in Iowa only to be knocked off course after sustaining $3 million in attack ads from an outside group that supports Romney. Gingrich posted dismal showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
By the time the race turned to South Carolina, he was back on course — and criticizing Romney as a social moderate who is timid about attacking the nation's economic troubles.
Ray Henry in Atlanta and Jack Gillum in Washington contributed to this report.
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