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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. texasgoat

    Let us see....as a conservative, who would I vote for Newt or obama?

    February 28, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  2. john/kc

    This guy has no future with the religious right. Divorced twice, greeting his first wife with divorce papers while she lay fighting for her life with cancer. He was quick to criticize Clinton with his affair while secretly having his own. How can anyone that believes in family values support this hypocrite?

    February 28, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  3. Michael

    Gingrich embodies everything that Christ does not – one would be hard pressed to find a more perfect example of antiChrist.
    But of course the religious right will embrace him! The religious right, like everytihng else on the right, is far more concerned with keeping the wealth firmly in the hands of the richest 2% than with whatever else they use as a disguise, be it religion, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom, nationalism, or what have you.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  4. PJ

    He will capture the Christian Right when compared to Mitt Romney who comes from a tradition with questionable Christian credentials.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  5. buke56

    Of course Newtie can win them over because in right-wing-whack-job-ville voting Republican is what their version of a Christian Judea God wants them to. Who cares if Newt a GOP hounded Clinton for his infidelities costing the USA millions then cheated on his wife which is blasphemy before a church ordained marriage, or quit his post as congressman of Ga just 3 days after just being re elected (thats less time than Sarah Pay-off) deserting the people who voted and believed in him. Coward. See if youre a GOP you can break the law, break the rules because you are the party of God and because you are its O K to be a hippocrit because you are the party of good old traditional Christian family values. How do we knowtheyre not liars when they make this claim? Because Family values Christians don lie, thats how. Yeah right, the next thing you know these whack jobs will be saying is that FOX NEWS is actually a REAL news show. Amen to that! LOL

    February 28, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  6. Joey

    I am a Christian, but I don't like the Christian Right. They are very evil people. They make religion scary. They are hypocrits that Christ himself would not identify with. These people make things up as they go along. Most are phonies. Look at New Gringrich as an example. Mr. Christianity and Mr Family values. He just tells people what they want to hear. If you think about it not different than any politician. I will not vote for anybody who spews out religious principles. They are not to be trusted. They are just saying what they need to say to get elected.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  7. ron41520

    I thought he was up for Husband of the Year. Since the right are such hypocrites, he should be their man.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  8. dc

    Ahhhhh, the political scene is just as always - the has-beens who want to shout redemption while remaining wolves in sheep's clothing. This man was a fraud and liaar. Still is. Hope the Repubs choose him and Palin and one or two others to lead their party. Love it when they make my votre so easy.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  9. mark

    How many wives has he cheeted on? He might just be the biggest crook in the political arena, that make hime perfect for the GOP run for the White House.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  10. Brownstain

    Newt Gingrich-poster boy for Ciallis.
    Put Some Hope Back In Your Rope.
    Sarah Palin-The antidote to ciallis.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  11. swanlee

    I think the religious right has been catered to quite enough in politics. Besides that how on earth is Newt going to sit their and preach morality after all the crap he has done to his former wife battling cancer?

    Do the religious right has ANY integrity left that they would flock to such a hypocrite just because he spews the same extreme rightwing mantra we have been hearing for decades.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  12. teepee

    Don't let him near your sister!

    February 28, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  13. Brownstain

    Even Jeebus thinks Newton is a POS.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  14. El Kababa

    It might work. Fundamentalists – for reasons known only to God – usually choose con men to lead them. Newt is well qualified in that way.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • chef dugan

      You can say that again. Look at the long, long list of religioius "leaders" on TV who routinely milk thier followers out of millions of dollars. And the suckers keep sending them money!

      February 28, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  15. ynmsid

    i believe in faith and family values.........always have......vote for me......I'm sorry we're going to have to eliminate your job, and i'm sorry you won't get any unemployment. But the good news is you will get health care......that is if you can foot the bill........what? you can't afford it?.............get off your lazy butt and get a job.......can't find one?.........then we need to help the rich so they will give you one........etc. etc.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  16. Amazed

    Newt is the poster boy for the the do as I say not as I do lies that are the GOP..... who cherry picks Christianity and the Bible to serve goals of self. Amazing how they seem to miss the 2000+ times the Bible tells us to help the poor, the homeless, the down trodden. One day they'l see it all as plain as day.

    Unbelievable this guy...

    February 28, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Jason

      Umm....certainly the Bible does say we are to help the poor; however, it does not call for the Government force people to pay into bloated welfare systems that do nothing except keep generations of people dependent.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Conservative Christian

      Conservatives believe in helping the poor through our churches not the federal government.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  17. American Citizen

    No more PORK at Capitol Hill.
    No more RATS at SCOTUS
    &
    No more NEWTS at the White House!

    February 28, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  18. gary

    i hope he gets the rad religious right and takes them to Mars

    February 28, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • chef dugan

      Mars is not far enough.

      February 28, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  19. Jeff

    Newt is an evil, small minded power monger. There's not a bit of Jesus in him.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • freetime1

      That's why the religious conservative should love him. After all that what they are all about!

      February 28, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  20. Eideard

    I'm really looking forward to, say, the Southern Baptist Convention endorsing a crook who gains salvation by converting to Catholicism.

    They deserve each other. But, I ain't holding my breath waiting for it to happen.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:06 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.