In the latest example of South Carolina living up to its reputation for dirty politics, an email purporting to be from the Cable News Network (CNN) news desk alleges that former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich forced his second wife to have an abortion against her will.

The email was launched 24 hours before polls open in the Palmetto State’s pivotal “First in the South” presidential primary, a race in which Gingrich is running neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“CNN did not send out the email alert,” the network confirms in a report published by Peter Hamby.

Gingrich is already facing heat over statements made by his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, who claims that he asked her for an “open marriage” shortly after acknowledging a six-year affair with Callista Gingrich, his current wife. Gingrich has denied the open marriage claim – and angrily rebuked the media for seizing on the story during a debate on Thursday night.

Marianne Gingrich also says that her husband filed for divorce after learning that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (which is interesting considering Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, while she was being treated for cancer).

To our knowledge, though, Marianne Gingrich has never made an allegation like this …

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: CNN Breaking News
Date: Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 6:29 AM
Subject: CNN Breaking News

A source close to Marianne Gingrich tells CNN that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich forced her to abort a pregnancy conceived during the affair that preceeded her marriage to Gingrich.

An ABC News interview with the Speaker’s ex-wife aired Thursday evening which detailed the candidate’s request for an open marriage and their subsequent divorce.

Highly trained agents make the best
agents. Click here to find a knowledgeable Farmers
agent now.

You have opted-in to receive this e-mail from
One CNN Center Atlanta, GA 30303
(c) & (r) 2011 Cable News Network

Several sources who received the fake CNN email immediately pointed the finger at Warren Tompkins, who ran George W. Bush’s filthy 2000 campaign in South Carolina – although a prominent Palmetto politico disputed that contention.

Wesley Donehue, who worked with Tompkins on Romney’s 2008 campaign, say that his former boss wouldn’t pull such a stunt.

“No,” Donehue said. “During my time at First Tuesday I learned that Warren is too professional for these maneuvers. When he hits you, he’ll hit you with his name on it.”

Really? Based on the belated acknowledgment of the Bush campaign’s direct involvement in similar dirty tricks targeting U.S. Sen. John McCain in 2000 – we’re not so sure of that. Tompkins – who ran Romney’s 2008 effort – recently signed on to work for the former Massachusetts again, although he is reportedly being paid on a contingency basis this time around.

Sources close to Tompkins are pointing the finger at Richard Quinn, who signed on as a “volunteer” for Gingrich after previously working for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

“It’s a false flag,” the source said, referring to an attack that’s deliberately launched by a campaign in an effort to generate sympathy for a candidate and assign blame to one of their rivals.

Who do the Quinns suspect is behind the email?

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this came from Jon Lerner,” a Quinn source told FITS, referring to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s Beltway-based political consultant. Haley has endorsed Romney and aggressively campaigned on his behalf (albeit to little effect).

Sheesh … what a cluster. Personally, we think it was Mr. Green with the revolver in the Lounge.