Better get used to seeing this, because I guarantee you it will come up in tonight’s debate:
After nearly a week on the defensive, CNN’s John King reports tonight that Newt Gingrich’s claim about offering witnesses to ABC News in his defense — to rebut the network’s interview with his second wife, Marianne Gingrich — was not true.
“Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday,” King said on tonight’s edition of John King USA. “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage.”
It’s still a lame question — for a presidential debate. Debate questions should really go to either issues or matters of record brought up by the campaigns, not personal issues. King’s question would have been perfectly fine in a one-on-one interview, but what exactly were the other candidates supposed to debate from this topic?
So will this retreat come up in tonight’s debate? Well, you tell me. The debate will be aired by CNN, which has been defending John King for the past week over this question. Now that he’s been at least partially vindicated and Gingrich shown to be wrong in the debate (or at least misinformed by his staff) while angrily castigating King and the entire network, do you think that CNN is going to just let this pass? I’m pretty sure Gingrich is already working on his response for tonight, and it will be interesting to see if he can use it for another full-throated attack on the media — and whether it works.
Update: A few commenters ask, “What about his daughters?” In his response last week, Gingrich said that he offered witnesses besides his daughters. This is what Gingrich claimed in the previous CNN debate:
“Let me be quite clear. The story is false. 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.”
Clearly, Gingrich wasn’t referring to his daughters. However, I have changed the word “witnesses” in the headline to “friends,” which is both a more accurate direct quote (I had recalled Gingrich as referring to “witnesses) and more clear on this particular point.