It was the best of time and it was the worst of times for Newt Gingrich today. I couldn’t help thinking both of that line from A Tale of Two Cities with the political events of the day, as well as doing a little riff in this post’s title from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!
Gingrich had to be gleeful when he heard that on the eve of the South Carolina primary election, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he is dropping out of the 2012 presidential race following his not-so-stellar showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. Then there was an extra piece of good news for Gingrich when Perry endorsed Gingrich’s campaign. Gingrich had to be thinking that 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, now that Marianne Gingrich – Ex-Mrs. Newt Gingrich Number 2 – has come out with a “tell all” and “explosive” interview with ABC News. 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. The devastating bomb in the interview is this — Marianne Gingrich claims that while she was still married to Newt, he wanted to have an “open marriage.” Such a quaint term for wanting to be able to stay married but also to sleep around.
As Gingrich’s adult daughters defend their dad and do their best to keep the focus away from his serial infidelities, and calling on people to ignore their ex-stepmother, 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. I’d say that maybe the very good day really goes to Santorum, who snatched the Iowa win from Romney and now is bound to make hay out of Gingrich’s personal life in hopes of a South Carolina win.
A version of this post was originally written for iVillage.com, where I’ll be working some amazing people on 2012 election coverage!