CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Ron Paul campaign put out a statement about an hour into the debate calling the first question, which was about Newt Gingrich's ex-wife, "highly inappropriate" but calling out the former House speaker for other issues.
"We agree with Newt Gingrich that opening the CNN debate tonight with questions about the former Speaker's personal life is highly inappropriate given the many serious issues this country faces," campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. "Republicans regularly bear unfair media attacks, our campaign included."
Gingrich responded angrily to CNN debate moderator John King when he asked about an interview to be aired on Thursday with Marianne Gingrich. Gingrich's ex-wife told ABC that the former speaker wanted an "open marriage" after she found out he was cheating. Gingrich chided King for asking the question, calling it despicable and part of a liberal media bias.
"I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," he told King. "I'm tired of the media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans," he added later.
The other candidates mostly declined to talk about Gingrich's infidelity, although some mentioned repeatedly during other portions of the debate that they have been married to the same spouse for years. "I'm proud that my wife of 54 years is with me tonight," Paul said after the exchange.
In the campaign statement, Benton said Paul cares about "Gingrich's attacks on capitalism, the money he took from Freddie Mac and his support for TARP and the individual healthcare mandate."
"Our problem with Newt Gingrich is not that he lied to his wife but that he lied to the American people," he said.