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Newt Gingrich’s Fierce Performance at Thursday’s Republican Debate

(Republican presidential candidate former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich makes a point during the opening question of a debate at the North Charleston Coliseum January 19, 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina.)

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Marianne Gingrich may threaten her ex-husband’s ambition of becoming the president just as he’s making a final surge in South Carolina.

In a tell-all interview with ABC’s Nightline, the former speaker’s second wife claims, “he wanted an open marriage and I refused.”

Gingrich allegedly asked her to share him with a congressional aide, all while skewering President Bill Clinton for his own extramarital affairs. The former speaker also allegedly called Marianne to say good night while sleeping next to his mistress—and now third wife—Callista.

Gingrich vehemently denied the allegations, erupting at CNN’s John King for asking about it during Thursday’s GOP debate and criticizing the national media for focusing on the interview.

The debate also put Mitt Romney on the defensive about his refusal to release tax returns.

Gingrich’s checkered marital past has been raised just as he is vying for the evangelical Christian vote in South Carolina. Recent polls show Gingrich in a near tie with and in some cases even leading front-runner Mitt Romney.