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Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?
February 27th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Can religious conservatives learn to love Newt?

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

There was one name on almost everyone's lips when I atteneded CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., four years ago: Newt Gingrich.

The man who engineered the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, ending two generations of Democratic control, didn't throw his hat into the ring for 2008, but there are signs he plans to do so for 2012.

And that raises a critical question: Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky and battled House ethics panel allegations throughout his four years as Speaker of the House?

John McCain proved in 2008 that a Republican can capture the party's nomination without religious conservative fervor at his back. He also showed how hard it is to win the White House without it.

Perhaps with that in mind, Gingrich is quietly emphasizing his 2009 conversion to Catholicism to certain voters, making appearances at right-to-life organizations, touring a film he produced about Pope John Paul II, and admitting there are things in his past he isn't proud of.

He's making headway with at least some potential supporters, such as veteran anti-abortion activist Jack Willke, the New York Times reports Sunday.

The money quote, from Willke's wife Barbara:  “His Catholicism certainly sounds legit, and even more so since (his wife) Callista is in the picture now.”

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Newt Gingrich • Politics • United States

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. jimiatlas

    In the off hand chance Newt Gingrich runs for office the Christian right must consider the fact that most Newts can be safely handled, provided that the toxins they produce are not ingested or allowed to come in contact with mucous membranes, or breaks in the skin. After handling, proper hand-washing techniques should be followed due to the risk from the toxins they produce and bacteria they carry, such as salmonella. Word to the wise is to refrain from close personal contact with Newt. The man is toxic.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  2. Jon

    In short: not likely. Not if the Religious Right wishes to maintain any of its status in the eyes of its supporters.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  3. Newyorker

    Holy sh4t! Who cares?

    February 28, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  4. Brian

    "Can religious conservatives learn to love a man who is twice divorced, carried on an affair while criticizing Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, and fell from power in an ethics scandal?"..........

    Of course they can. To those people hypocrisy is a virtue.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • keiththeklam

      Right on dude! Hypocrisy reigns supreme with the Newtron Bomb and the religious right.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  5. cas

    The GOP has always made a political strategy of getting votes from those in the population with little intellect, Democrats also have, but the GOP has mastered it by presenting themselves as "..one of the folks". Appealing to the falsehood of religion and God.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  6. Reality

    Removing the need for the Left and the Right:

    Hmmm, common sense, rational thinking and "Do No Harm" easily takes the place of any book of human rules left or right.

    With respect to Abrahamic religions, an easy way to quickly remove the brainwashing:

    The saving of 1.5 billion lost Muslim souls:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

    The saving of 2 billion lost Christian souls:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

    The saving of 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Added details upon request.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  7. Adam Mc

    I am not a religious conservative...

    I would never vote for Newt 2012... or Sarah Palin... or Huckabee.... give me better candidates..

    February 28, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  8. Debbie

    No Gingrich cannot win the religious right. He cheated on his wife and left her while dying of cancer. Not to mention he was drummed out of Congress due to ethics charges. The religious right will not vote for him to be the GOP nominee.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Bill

      I disagree Debbie, that is what family values and ethics are all about with the GOP and the extremist right-wing. The "religion" part of the right wing only applies to other people, as well as the law and ethics. Remember Tom Delay is innocent and waterboarding is okay if used against Democrats or Muslims. I think Newt, Palin or any other wacko would do great with the "religious right"

      February 28, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  9. CTexas

    He's a self-centered arrogant,pompous, ego-maniac....with a Ph.D..which only makes it worse. America needs new blood...not this old windbag.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  10. jay

    Who in the hell would name their kid "Newt" as is if the last name was'nt bad enough

    February 28, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  11. William Marlowe

    Why would you vote this guy who was basically shamed out of office in the 90's to be our President now?

    Do the Republicans honestly believe the voters of the United States are that stupid?!?

    February 28, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • CTexas

      Republicans=knuckleheads who think they have a better mousetrap.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Bill

      Well, take your pick of any of the nut jobs in the GOP field today.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • MikeHouston

      @ William Marlowe

      Yes, they do!!

      February 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  12. Jeff

    This hypocritical bum had his chance with glory his infamous Contract On the Nation. No chance for a run for this phony. None. As for the bickering, the blame goes to the GOP Evil Empire or GOPEE. They'd rather eat their children than see a poor man or woman, also known as the former middle class, try to prosper. Obama ran on trying to work with the GOPEE and kept his word. Big mistake on his part. The GOPEE will payfor their dirty deeds in the 2012 election. What the voters can giveth, the voters can taketh away. A fickle bunch they are.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  13. xnu

    Unemployment is still 10% and underemployment is around 20. Obama is going to lose and the GOP primary will be the defacto race for president. Lets just hope someone with brains wins. I think Newt fits that category, although he's far, far far from my top choice.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  14. Bill

    You mean the extremist right-wing nut jobs? Yep, I think Newt can swing them, he just needs to listen to Limbaugh and Fox news a little more to get the hate and fear talking points down pat.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  15. Dan

    Please stop talking in terms of currying favor from a specific demographic group.
    Our nation needs to come together, and trying to win a particular group over should not be the focus.
    The real question that should be asked is – who is the best person for President? And what can they do to get this nation to stop bickering back and forth like kindergarteners, and make and create jobs for millions of American citizens?

    February 27, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  16. RealityCheck

    Newt "The Deserter" Gingrich A.K.A. Pollutin' Newton is the wackyiest, tackiest slim ball to float in the toilet bowl we call government. This soft ball piece doesn't do justice to this derelict's moral crimes. Newt "The Deserter" Gingrich walked out on his family in their time of need, when his 1st wife had cancer. Newt, the deserter, took off for gay Paris. When a man deserts his family in their hour of need, you understand this man is not a man at all. Newt is a shiftless grifter of politics, and that is all he is.

    February 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  17. dcfromct

    It's way too early to tell. If the economy and the increasing debt is the main issue come election time then Romney will probably have the best chance. If the unrest in the middle east and other countries continues and other key governments change in the next year then who knows who will step up.
    Pawlenty and Huckabee are probably preferred candidates, currently but they aren't as well known. Several governors whose names have drawn interest are Pense, Jindal and Christie but all three have said that they won't run. We'll see in 6-8 months.

    February 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  18. Bubba Bear 11

    IF THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT FALLS FOR THE "RELIGION CARD" THEY ARE AS DUMB AS A POST. A MAN OF INTEGRITY DOES NOT CHEAT ON HIS WIFE, EITHER CLINTON NOR GINGRICH. CONSERVATIVE ECONOMICS ARE NOT BONA FIDES OF CHRISTIAN FAITH. VOTE NO FOR PRESIDENT.

    February 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  19. Former Philly Altar boy

    Why wouldn't they back him/ It only matters that he's a right wingnut. He's a serial adulterer and been married over and over and sucked more tax dollars to his district in Georgia than anyone. They hated Clinton who didn't inhale but loved Bush who was a former c0caine addict and drunk who was "saved" by Jesus. Yes. I think Gingrich is just the boy they've been looking for.

    February 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  20. Sarah

    I would rather have him as President over the one we have now. Anyone would be more qualified than Obama. He's been in 2 years and what has he done? Unemployment is at a all time high, he has caused more debt in 2 years than Bush did in 8 years. He goes around the world apologizing for the US to anyone that will listen, yeah that's a great leader huh?!? No thanks. He will be a one term President and I can't wait for that day to come. Maybe America will get their respect back a little.

    February 27, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • TGolden

      Yes, because bombing countries is so much better then apologizing. Such a better way to build respect. Bush's two terms left us a ruin, and if Obama cannot make us into a city on a hill again he gets castigated. Keep hating, I stopped listening.

      February 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • thibault

      Unemployment is not at an all time high.

      February 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Thomas

      Blaming Obama for the economic crisis is like throwing a lit match into the living room of the house you just sold and then blaming the new owners for the fire. He was forced to pull out all the stops just to put the brakes on the downward spiral the Bush administration had put the country in and it's finally taking hold. Quit blaming the mechanic for not fixing your car quickly enough after you wrapped it around a tree.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • jeff george

      Once again we hear this "apology" nonsense. Please name ONE SINGLE INSTANCE in which Obama has apologized for this country. It's some weird thing the right has invented and keeps repeating, and it's simply not true. Try doing your own thinking for once. Meanwhile, the Bush administration spent eight years telling violators of financial and environmental laws not to worry about enforcement, and guess what happened? Something that caused so much damage, it can't be fixed in two years. Obama has spent the money trying to keep the USA from collapsing into a complete Depression. So far, it's worked. And guess what else? That spend started under W.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Clayton

      Stupidity is at an all time high too! 😀

      February 28, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • William Marlowe

      Almost EVERYTHING in your post was wrong:

      What is Newt's qualifications that make him much better than President Obama. Please list them.

      Unemployment is NOT at an all time high.

      When President Bush entered the Presidency we had surplus budget and a debt less than 1 Trillion, when he left we had 13 Trillion dollar debt and a Trillion dollar a year defict budget. Your statement that President Obama "has caused more debt in 2 years than Bush did in 8 years." is such an ignorant statement it borders on idiotic.

      President Obama has a 54% approval rating. You are in the minority...

      Thank goodness. Go see the movie Inside Job and wake up and do some research and reading before making statements that prove you are a moron.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Loren

      Actually, no; unemployment is down by a full percentage point in the last year. So it's not at an "all-time high."

      Perhaps your other claims are similarly faulty.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Jon

      "Anyone would be better than Obama" - says the guys who got us into this mess in the first place.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Tim

      Six replies that refute a mindless sheep, yet who is winning the political battles. The borg. Has anyone considered that Newt is a Machiavellian. To switch his religion makes him seem more ethical and legitimate. Anyone who leaves a wife for another while she is fighting an illness is capable of unseemly thing. I'm not one to believe that Patricians give up their successful ways. Something is fishy here.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • EJ

      well one thing is for certain is that you get your information from FoxNews because little you said is true. In fact in his two years in office Obama has created MORE jobs than Bush did in 8 years, countries have more respect for the USA so far President Obama has not had shoes thrown at him nor booed when he visits other countries. I don't agree with everything he has done since he took office for sure but I will at least give him credit for what he has done. Ask the autoworkers that the GOP wanted to lose their jobs if they are pleased with the POTUS. Your name is Sarah so the last name wouldn't be PALIN by chance would it?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • tallulah13

      Yes, we get it. You're a biter republican. I'm sorry that President Obama hasn't waved a magic wand and fixed all the damage created by the Bush administration, but in the real world, these things take time.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:16 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.