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Juan Williams Warned About Asking Newt Gingrich 'Food Stamp' Question, New Book Reports

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A new e-book has shed light on some of the most memorable media moments of the Republican presidential primary.

The book, "Election 2012: A Time for Choosing," by RealClearPolitics writers Carl Cannon and Tom Bevan, is one of many digital offerings taking a more contemporaneous look at the unfolding of the 2012 campaign. One section, first highlighted by the Daily Caller, describes what happened behind the scenes of the Fox News debate that saw Newt Gingrich take an infamous tangle with the network's Juan Williams.

Williams asked Gingrich about comments he'd made calling President Obama the "food stamp president." Gingrich's response drew a hearty standing ovation.

Cannon and Bevan report that, before the debate began, fellow moderator Bret Baier and the network producers were wary about Williams asking the question, fearing that "Gingrich would hit back hard, attempting to turn Williams into a prop."

"I need to ask it this way, because it's offensive," Williams replied. The authors write that it was agreed that Williams would ready a second question to "redirect" Gingrich if need be, but that the producers never got around to devising one.

In the most striking moment, Cannon and Bevan write that, during the debate, a producer yelled, "Juan, don't do this!" in the control room just as Williams began asking his question. The applause was so sustained that "Baier had difficulty cutting away" to a commercial break.

The book also brings up Gingrich's full-throated assault on CNN's John King, who notoriously asked him about reports that he asked his second wife for an open marriage. Gingrich said that it was a "despicable" thing to bring up. In a commercial break, though, he was all smiles with King, saying, "Great debate so far."

"I thought I was 'despicable,'" King replied. Later, he would defend his asking of the question, saying, "I understood that if I asked the question he was not going to be happy with it, and he was going to turn on me."

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