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Katon Dawson: Don't Sweat Marianne

We know what's there," says the former South Carolina Republican Party chairman.

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NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina—Former South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson, a key conservative power broker, says Newt Gingrich's ex-wife's allegations won't turn off potential supporters of the former Speaker of the House.

Dawson, who originally supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry, questioned the motives of ABC for getting the scoop and then holding it — calling the network “irresponsible.”

“I want to know how long this has been in the can, and who’s really behind it,” he said today.

But Dawson doesn’t think the salacious details will hurt Gingrich: “We’ve read the letters from Marianne [Gingrich]. We’ve read them, we know what’s there. We know it was really ugly and messy. I’ve heard Newt on the stump get up and say ‘I’ve made some mistakes.’ The people of South Carolina get that. They get the word forgiveness. They get it. He made some mistakes, but are they going to hold it against him, I don’t think so.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed the same sentiment in his speech announcing his withdrawal from the campaign and endorsement of Gingrich today.

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption.”

Dawson, who said he will follow Perry in his endorsement of Gingrich, said that Perry’s endorsement gives Gingrich the opportunity to take the lead.

“This thing is fluid — 40 percent are undecided or say they’ll move,” he said. “There’s plenty of time left. You’ve got Florida, you’ve got Super Tuesday. I project this thing runs a little longer than that and I think that’s a good thing.“