Newt Gingrich compliments John King on moderating CNN Republican debateIt was the verbal smack heard around the world. “I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate,” Newt Gingrich said Thursday night at the open of the Republican debate in South Carolina. John King, who was moderating, had asked Gingrich to comment on the controversial new interview his ex-wife gave to ABC News.

“Don’t try to blame anybody else. You and your staff chose to start your debate with it. Let me be clear, the story is false,” he told King. There was nothing unclear about it. You’d have thought Gingrich might dive off the stage and clothesline King.

And yet, after the debate was over and the dust had settled, Gingrich had this to say to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I thought John did a great job. It was direct. It was tough. You could see the differences [between the candidates].”

What?!

Maybe Rick Santorum was onto something when he said Gingrich is “all over the place.”