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Gingrich: Dirty Politics Undermine Democracy

Orangeburg, S.C. - Newt Gingrich condemned bogus emails alleging he asked his ex-wife Marianne for an abortion, which landed in inboxes across South Carolina starting Thursday night.

"It's an unfortunate fact that there are elements in American politics who are negative, dishonest and to use a word I used last night, despicable.," Gingrich told reporters. "They're not clever. They're people who undermine the capacity for self government."

In addition to an email made to resemble a CNN breaking news bulletin -- which the outlet shot down as fake -- there was a message forged to look like a response from the Gingrich campaign, featuring both the campaign logo and the press secretary's actual contact email. "Newt Gingrich Responds to Abortion Allegations," ran the subject line. "I have made mistakes in my life. This was one of them," read the falsified statement.

South Carolina has the notorious reputation for dirty politics; an anonymous whispering campaign in the 2000 primary claimed John McCain fathered a black child out of wedlock, that his wife was a drug addict, and that he was gay. The nasty rumors ground John McCain's presidential aspirations to a halt and he finished second in the state. There was never any evidence the Bush campaign was involved.

Blasting the "last minute acts of desperation that give South Carolina a bad name," Adam Piper, who serves as a vice chairman for the state GOP, sent a message to the party activist list declaring that, "as an officer of the party, I will not stand for such libel. Identity theft and computer crimes are serious offenses that have no place in our elections."

Gingrich, whose poll numbers are indicating he may edge out frontrunner Mitt Romney in the primary Saturday, said, he would "urge the government to prosecute" the authors if their identities were ever revealed.

"I am sick of the kind of dishonest campaigns that we see when people go out and fake somebody else's material for the purpose of causing trouble 24 hours before a primary," he said. "This is not worthy of our children and grandchildren. It's not worthy of America. It's not funny. It's not a game."