The South Carolina night that tipped the GOP primary

Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 9:42 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich waves to the crowd with his wife Callista during a South Carolina Republican presidential primary night rally, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Columbia, S.C. Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary.

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

On Jan. 19, Newt Gingrich’s bitter second wife recorded an interview with ABC, released on the night of the South Carolina debate, in which she accused him of having pressed her for an “open marriage” when his affair with his current wife, Calista, came to light.

CNN’s John King pressed Gingrich on the question during the debate, and Gingrich fired back sharply and won over the crowd. The former speaker went on to win the South Carolina primary easily, the high point of his campaign, and his only primary win.

But questions about character would continue to dog him, along with questions about his consistency. The attacks that began in Iowa on his record as a conservative now merged with doubts about his two failed marriages and his record as a serial adulterer.

The women in South Carolina stood by their man, but after that Gingrich struggled with women voters and rarely broke out of third place as values voters quickly shifted their energy to the Santorum campaign.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS