If you’re a political junkie, there was lots of news about the GOP nomination race to keep you busy on Thursday — but the story that grabbed most of the headlines involved salacious allegations made by one of Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives.

Marianne Gingrich, the second wife of the thrice-married former speaker of the House, gave an explosive interview to ABC’s ‘Nightline’ in which she said Newt asked her for an “open marriage” so he could carry on an affair with Callista — his current wife — who was his congressional aide at the time.

The story had everyone buzzing, so it wasn’t surprising when CNN reporter John King started off the GOP candidate debate in South Carolina on Thursday night by asking Gingrich if he wanted to respond to his former wife’s claim.

“No,” Gingrich replied, before saying he’d address the allegations anyway. What followed was a scathing attack on the media for even giving the story credence to begin with, but he eventually got around to denying Marianne’s claims, calling them “trash” and false.

“To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine,” he chided King, as the Republican crowd in attendance cheered.

The South Carolina GOP primary is Saturday, and it’s an important one — in election cycles past, the winner of the contest has gone on to become the Republican nominee every time since the state’s front-of-the-calendar primary began in 1980. Many polls show Gingrich rapidly closing the gap between his numbers and those of presumed frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Watch Newt respond to his ex-wife’s story below:


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