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. cecilia

    Sure he can – All he has to do is tell the masses he found God and forgiveness – that is all they need to hear – if they would follow Saint Palin they will follow anyone

    February 28, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  2. LeeCMH

    Newt doesn't want to allow gay people to marry, but he's probably for easy, no-fault divorce.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Newt Gingrich

      It's not true; I'm in favor of hot lesbian action! Hubba hubba!

      February 28, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  3. darkstar

    Keep religion OUT of politics!!!!!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Thank you Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus!

      February 28, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • cecilia

      well now – that is a great idea – why don't the Republicans think of that

      February 28, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  4. scroo yoo

    Neither one should have a place in our democratic process

    February 28, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  5. Mario

    He's a hate filled greedy bigot, so the right should embrace him right away.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  6. Ken

    They are just as hypocritical as he so he shouldn't have any problem winning them over.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  7. El Kababa

    All Newt needs to do is wave a Bible at the camera while an 800 number appears at the bottom of the screen. Fundamentalists will start praising Jesus and phoning in campaign contributions.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  8. JohnL

    He can't be happy over the Obama administration's decision not to defend an important section of the so-called Defense Of Marriage Act. Will the religious right (already furious about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell) choose as their champion an adulterous, thrice married "family values" hypocrite like Gingrich at a time when they are particularly alarmed that they're losing the fight over gay marriage? I can't think of a Republican nominee less suited for that battle than Gingrich.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  9. Pete

    Newt is a buffoon. The current era of "hate" politics all started with him. The sooner he, and his ilk, hits the ash heap of history the better . . .

    February 28, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Newt Gingrich

      It's true, people don't give me enough credit. The whole Contract on America started with me, and I showed people overseas that Americans are unstable, suggestible, and ready to hate and kill for a populist leader. Because of me, a lot of silly people are convinced that it is 'treason' to have a political stance that is anything but conservative. We've gone from being the world's leader to its sad drunken uncle in about fifteen years, but I have more 'anti-progress' for you, so vote me in!!

      February 28, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  10. mightyfudge

    If Obama had Newt's track record, he'd be in prison.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  11. Newt Gingrich

    Y'know, I'm going to be needing me a fine new First Lady when I takes the White House, and I'd like to invite all you foxes on this message board to send me your resumes today! Be sure to include a revealing photo and your favorite anecdote about Jesus; I'll start interviewing candidates at midnight at the Watergate.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • cecilia

      VERY GOOD!!!!

      February 28, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  12. Edward

    Who cares? Really Newt??? Obama is the best out of any person the GOP can dig up. It's sad cause after Obama is out of office people will give him his props then. He's a great man & a good President. Republicans think they can scare us with words (socialist,marxist, not one of us) but they only scare themselves. Pretty soon the racist right will be EXTINCT!!

    February 28, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  13. People Donot Forget

    " 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 fell from power in an ethics scandal?"


    February 28, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  14. Chris

    Not a chance in hell

    February 28, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  15. ryan

    Well, like the Taliban in Afganistan, the religious right are bigoted, hateful, and self righteous. Anti human, talking to imaginary friends, and totally hypocritical on poverty. What kind of person has the job of "winning over" people like that?

    February 28, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "What kind of person has the job of "winning over" people like that?" One of their own, a person they can identify with; someone cruel and hateful like Newt.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  16. Brian

    Gingrich can "win" the religious right, anybody can! If you say Jesus enough times you win! The question should be, if he wins what is the religious right going to do when the Secular Left keeps bringing up his many, many moral failures?

    February 28, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Newt Gingrich

      Why, I'll explain how Jesus entered my heart and brought me eternal happiness and peace, and they'll just smile smile smile. I repent, and I'll never ever cheat on my first wife again.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  17. Buster Bloodvessel

    Conservative America will never forgive his heartless dumping of his wives and the repeated infidelity and lying. Ha ha! I am joking, of course! They don't care and it doesn't matter.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • LeeCMH

      "Moral" problems are always criticized when they are manifest in those the religionists already hate. No problem when it's a "good-old-boy."

      February 28, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  18. Paulie

    Since when is being religious or a conservative a bad thing anyway? Most criminals are liberals and not very religious.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Hateful conservative religionists are a bad thing when you are on the receiving end of their hate.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "Most criminals are liberals and not very religious." Wow, you must be insane. You actually believe that? Visit a prison sometime. Almost everyone there is a devout Christian.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • mightyfudge

      Being greedy, self righteous and ignorant to history are ALWAYS a bad thing. No one knows what happens when we die and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money (or in this case, your campaign contribution).

      February 28, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Rob

      Really, most criminals are liberal and not very religious? I would love to read the study you performed to test for criminals political ideology and religious beliefs. I wonder how you tested for all of the extraneous variables. Gosh you are cool.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  19. Paulie

    Its not like Obama is going to win them over.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Ken

      As a Christian, I know that far too many think that "conservative" equals RIGHT. Not so much. I would agree that some liberals go to the Nth degree of pettiness but here's the thing: so do some conservatives. And that's the point that escapes people, on both sides of the idealogical fence: we're all human and religion means nothing (if you're a Christian anyway) without Christ. And funny, I rarely hear the "religious right" saying that.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  20. Cascadoux

    The religious right have already sold their souls to the devil of hate and divisiveness. For Gingrich to win them over is just a matter of course. Seeing that they selectively choose what sins are never to be forgiven, especially: being poor, Gay, Mexican, Democrat, woman, people of color, etc...Adulterers (if Republican), thieves, warmongers, etc...are a shoe in. Seeing that Jesus is supposedly on their side, they might as well have Gingrich too.

    February 28, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Newt Gingrich

      I'll put you in a concentration camp for daring to say that, you liberal traitor. Shut your "free-speech" loving mouth!

      February 28, 2011 at 9:38 am |
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