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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. Steve851

    Newt has been a great idea machine at times, but he is wasting his time running for president. And if he starts pandering to the religious right, he'll even lose more votes. Let's hope he's not even more deluded than Trump. The GOP needs to get serious about candidates.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:59 am |
  2. HotAirAce

    Unfortunately, no problem for believers, right left or center! If you can convince yourself the bible is more than just bad fiction and relavent in the 21st century, you can convince yourself of anything.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  3. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    My personal favorite was Gingrich leading the attack on Bill Clinton for what the Governator termed "just a little pro job." Kinda' raises the bar on hypocrisy. At least Bill didn't discard his wife for a younger, healthier model.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  4. Andrew

    Republicans have had double standards in almost every aspect as to what they do while proclaiming their actions to be in preservation of American morality.

    1. Reign in government yet still support the patriot act
    2. Reduce government spending yet barely touch the military budget
    3. Be pro life but for the death penalty
    4. Be religious and moral yet leave your wife while she has cancer.
    5. Claim to support the average joe the plumber but give tax breaks away to the large corporations.

    Yeah, not voting for republicans until they get their heads in the right place.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  5. LibertarianAtheist

    I don't get why people don't see that the "right" wants just as big and controlling of a government as the "left". Possibly even worse. I usually get called "right-wing" by self-described progressives, but I'm nothing like these theocrat neocons. Libertarians don't fit with the modern left or right, and aren't in the middle either. To me, the left/right scale should have authoritarianism on one side, and anarchy on the other. Then it'd actually cover the bases and include everyone. If you can forget your preconceived notions of left and right for an example... as a Libertarian, I'd be right of center, and Democrats and Republicans would be left of center. Neocons and Socialists would be ultra-left. Anarcho-Capitalists would be ultra-right.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  6. KeithTexas

    I think that the new Age of Reason could dawn any day now and the Christian Right will become irrelevant. This fundamentalist Christian fervor will run its course and burn out of its own accord. Their hatred and power lust are equaled by none in direct conflict of the very ideals they profess to believe in.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not a Christian hater. I am a fundamentalist or evangelical hater. Your version of the bible only brings destruction to the people that follow you and your children.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Wert

      You can't possibly be the idiot that you sound like. Get someone to edit your drivel.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  7. Lindsey

    Huckabee owns the religious right if he decides to run. Gingrich is wasting his time!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Wert

      Bad news for you, Lindsey. He's not running for President of your ficticious "religious right".

      February 28, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  8. c.francis

    He dumped his wife when she had cancer. Is there anything else to say about this sub-human? Scary that he is still able to open his mouth in public. Huge ego, no brain. And certainly no compassion.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Wert

      No brain? Remember that stupid remark when he eats Obama alive during the debates.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  9. Moe NY

    Is this article for real? This man, known as the newt, is a hypocrite. Religious belief....come on....he left his wife dying, married again, and again. So sick....religious right be dammed...you are all hypocrites. Family values anyone??? Republicans/Teabag will bring down America with their phony do as I say, not as I do BS. Wake up fellow Americans...do not understand how you can follow this cult.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Wert

      Moe? You sound more like Curly. More left fringe lunacy. Your Indonesian Muslim has had his day.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  10. CW

    This fat lier is still relevent? Go figure!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  11. lane

    God" doesn’t choose Drug Addicts ,Drunks ,ignorant Red Neck Reverends,pedophiles,Abstinence Preaching Illegitimate Baby Mamas, Multiple Divorced Adulterers,. To be his voice .

    February 28, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  12. Joke

    Praise be! Newt will lead us to the 'shining city on the hill', the new Jerusalem of our dreams. After two divorces, he must have learned something about shame.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  13. frontgate

    Of course they love him . They're all a bunch of hypocrites. so what's the problem

    February 28, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  14. Larry L.

    Here's the path: Find Jesus, cry on camera, focus the questions on those gay, liberal, black people who are trying to get our guns! Works every time with conservatives and religious wackos.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  15. lane

    Anan D said it all" Of course the religious right will support Newt. Hypocrisy is a requirement for them."

    February 28, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  16. Who Lou

    Those raised by "do as I say, not as I do" family values can easily vote for this opportunistic liar. You betcha !

    February 28, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  17. Brian

    As nasty and phony as Newt is he might get himself elected because of that. He is an example of what is wrong with this country and many conservatives are just like him. Nixon was the worst president in history and he was elected by a landslide. That's the kind of electorate we have. Ford said his biggest mistake was giving Nixon a pardon.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  18. Ed

    Newt's 15 minutes of fame (3 or 4years actually) ended about 14 years ago. He's beyond washed-up and irrelevant. It will be tough to beat Obama in 2012 but not impossible. With Newt, it would be impossible (but not as impossible as with Palin). Romney is the only leading Republican who has a chance at this point unless someone comes out of the pack and gets noticed.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  19. Alan D.

    Of course the religious right will support Newt. Hypocrisy is a requirement for them.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Wert

      Hypocrisy? With Obama claiming to be a Christian?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  20. ash

    they dont need to learn. he's just as big a hypocrite as the rest of them.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:45 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.