This looks bad for Cruz, right? Yes -- but I remember January 2012:
Did John King blow it?Two days after that debate, Gingrich won the South Carolina primary by double digits.
The CNN host stepped on a land mine named Newt Gingrich when he opened Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate by asking him about his second ex-wife’s allegation that he suggested she accept his affair as part of their marriage.
Gingrich’s now-famous response practically blew back King’s hair. “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office,” he said to thunderous applause during the forum in Charleston, S.C. “And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”
To even more enthusiastic applause, the former House speaker added, “I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”
Of course, Gingrich's marital troubles were old news. This story isn't -- and if any of it is true, it could be confirmed by embarrassing evidence.
But if it's not true, or if it's true but the accusers can't prove it, Cruz has the opportunity to be very, very self-righteous. Cruz, when he's angry, is pompous and haughty, just the way Gingrich was in that debate moment:
Perhaps unfortunately for Cruz, there are no more Republican debates scheduled. But if he thinks he's in the clear, either because he's innocent or because he's sure no one can prove anything, he really might find a way to use this to his advantage.
Or he could admit marital troubles, with Heidi at his side, and win sympathy. GOP voters love repentant sinners. They reelected David Vitter in his first election after his prostitution scandal. They eventually forgave Mark Sanford and sent him to Congress.
Or he could say nothing. In that case, the story could fester and hurt him -- or it could seem like mudslinging and help him.
I know, I know -- Gingrich didn't win the 2012 nomination. But he was never the establishment favorite and his campaign wasn't awash in cash the way Mitt Romney's was. Cruz is the establishment's pick now, and he's extremely well funded.
So this might cripple the Cruz campaign -- or, bizarrely, it could be the #NeverTrump movement's big break.
UPDATE: Charlie Pierce is right about this:
1) True or not, this has all the earmarks of a ratfck by a career ratfcker, and I would be willing to hazard a guess that the "Washington insider" quoted by the National Enquirer is an old Nixon hand whose name rhymes with "Dodger Drone."Yup -- Trump pal (and, I suspect, still top adviser) Roger Stone, the guy who brought down Eliot Spitzer. Then again, Stone's scuttlebutt was true in that case.
ALSO: As New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported last fall, "Trump and Enquirer CEO David Pecker have been friends for years."