There is no doubt that the interview conducted by ABC News with Marianne Gingrich will be embarrassing for both Newt and Calista Gingrich.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins tells me he finds the interview, “troubling.” I mean think about it: would you want all of your past dirty laundry out there on national TV in front of tens of millions of people? Thought not.
The real question is how much will this really damage Gingrich politically? Actually, it may not be as much as people think.
A prominent evangelical leader sent The Brody File this:
"The interview is not helpful. On the other hand, voters are familiar with Newt's personal issues and they will weigh those along with other factors such as his record, ability to lead, and electability. When it comes to evangelicals, I think Perry summed it up best in his endorsement of Newt: none of us is perfect, and we believe in redemption."
Look, don’t get me wrong. This interview has a bombshell quality and the “open marriage” issue is problematic. Clearly, Newt Gingrich's sins of the past are coming back to haunt him as he gets closer to a real shot at the presidency. The truth of the matter is that our past mistakes can make the future complicated. It's unfortunate but true.
Gingrich says he has asked God for forgiveness in this area of his life and as far as we know he hasn't had any transgressions since, so who are we (as evangelical Christians) to question Newt's sincerity when it comes to his business with God.
In a strange sort of way, the good news here for Newt is that he never claimed to have a patron saint reputation. This isn't a case where some deep dark dirty secrets are now coming out against a man who carried the morality torch. Gingrich's marital past has been out there for quite some time so even these latest comments aren't going to get supporters to say "Really? Wow. This is shocking to me!"
This is not to downplay what Marianne Gingrich has claimed in the interview. I'm just saying the shock factor won't be as high and politically that actually helps Gingrich. It would be far different and much more explosive if, let’s say some woman came out and said these things about Mitt Romney.
So while this is something the Gingrich campaign is going to have to overcome, it doesn’t necessarily trump the insatiable appetite of evangelicals and Republican voters as a whole of getting rid of President Obama in the fall of 2012.
When Gingrich takes the debate stage, he has literally mesmerized GOP voters. So far that narrative has trumped his marriage problems of the past. Why? It’s because voters are looking for a serious candidate to tackle serious problems.
Oh, and one more thing. I can see Newt turning this ABC News interview into an opportunity to bash the media because they are releasing this story 48 hours before the South Carolina primary. Don’t be surprised if he whacks ABC tonight and the crowd (once again) hoots and hollers.