A New Look at Newt

Rick Perry is out, but will Gingrich's ex-wife tank his campaign?

Today could either be a very good day for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich or it could be a very bad one. On the eve of the South Carolina primary election, Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced he is dropping out of the race following his not-so-stellar showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. The extra piece of good news for Gingrich, especially with Perry’s endorsement of Gingrich’s campaign, is that if he does well in the second South Carolina debate, he might close what little gap remains between himself and Mitt Romney, turning the southern state’s primary event into what some are calling a “barn burner!”

All that good news could mean nothing, though, depending on what Marianne Gingrich -- Ex-Mrs. Newt Gingrich Number 2 -- has to say in what’s being billed as a “tell all” and “explosive” interview with ABC News airing tonight. Marianne Gingrich has made no secret of the fact that she’s not sure her ex-husband would make a good president. She said so in an Esquire Magazine interview a couple of years ago. And now, The Hill newspaper is reporting that it has gotten a transcript of the interview in which Marianne Gingrich claims her husband wanted to have an "open marriage." Gingrich’s daughters from his first marriage have responded to the interview and are asking voters to ignore their ex-step-mother’s comments.

As Gingrich’s adult daughters defend their dad and do their best to keep the focus away from his serial infidelities, James Dobson of Focus on the Family is doing the opposite. He proclaimed this weekend at the Christian Right Summit that conservative voters aren’t ready to see a First lady in the White House who was a mistress for eight years. That might not be a campaign breaker in some states, but about 60 percent of Republican voters in South Carolina consider themselves to be evangelical Christians, so many of them are tuned into Dobson’s comments.

So now the GOP presidential race is down to four major candidates: Romney, Gingrich, Rick Santorum -- who learned today that he was the real winner in the Iowa Caucuses -- and Ron Paul.

Does Perry’s decision help Gingrich? Or will the Peyton Place-like atmosphere surrounding Gingrich’s personal life do him in?

You can read more from iVillage contributor Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, which is on sale now at Amazon.com.

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