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If there was one factor that put Newt Gingrich over the top last week in South Carolina, it was his combative response to John King's opening salvo about ABC News' upcoming interview with Gingrich's ex-wife in last week's debate. Here is Newtie's specific accusation:
Let me be quite clear. 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. They're attacking the governor. They're attacking me. I'm sure they'll presently get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.
Except, well, Newt didn't offer even one personal friend. When pressed on it by John King this week, he finally handed off the actual facts to his staff, who then had to come back and admit that yes, the only witnesses offered to ABC News were Newt's daughters. No personal friends. Now it's possible he has no personal friends. But to say such a thing would be mean, so instead I'll just conclude he lied. If ever there was a classic case of someone afflicted with a supreme case of unwarranted certitude, it is Newt Gingrich.
Full transcript below the fold:
KING: Yesterday, I asked the speaker about ABC's insistence that no such character witnesses were offered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Oh, that is just plain baloney. I mean, I will check with R.C. Hammond in a minute. But if they're saying that, they're not being honest, because they said explicitly the opposite. So I will check with R.C., because he was briefing me on this the whole way through. We had several people prepared to be very clear and very aggressive in their dispute about that. And they weren't interested.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You heard the speaker there. He said, we had several people prepared, and they were not interested.
Well, 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.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the campaign offered to ABC were the speaker's two daughters from his first marriage.