Archives: Newt Gingrich targets social conservatives with fidelity pledge

Originally published in December 2011
Simon Nguyen

With Mitt Romney enjoying a big fundraising and organizational advantage, Newt Gingrich knows he must win the religious vote to defeat Romney for the GOP nomination. Despite earnest efforts, Romney appears incapable of winning over social conservatives – the voting bloc one needs to capture Iowa and the south. This leaves a big opening for the former House Speaker.

In an effort to win over social conservatives, Gingrich was reported by Politico to have signed a no-adultery pledge initiated by Iowa’s Family Leader advocacy group. This decision by the former House Speaker was a complete reversal of his earlier refusal to sign the pledge.

The fact that Gingrich was even offered a chance to sign a fidelity pledge is rather baffling. According to Yahoo News, Gingrich has taken four no-adultery pledges in his political career. The Pennsylvania native’s first two pledges ended in unhappy divorces. While everyone deserves a second chance, having someone who has married three times pledged “personal fidelity” was a little contrived.

Gingrich’s fidelity pledge is part of a greater effort by his campaign to appeal to evangelicals and born-again Christians. Although social conservatives are wary of the veteran politician’s past personal baggage, they do love a good redemption story. The Gingrich’s campaign has apparently been drumming up this theme in the last few months.

Gingrich has tactically adopted a positive and reconciliatory tone in recent appearances. At the ABC News/Yahoo! debate, the former House Speaker was especially forthcoming about his past transgressions and seemingly portrayed himself as a redeemed Christian. The Pennsylvania native had also sent a letter to his campaign staff members urging them to maintain a positive attitude and to not aggressively go after the other candidates.

Gingrich’s supposed positivism on the campaign trails is a brilliant tactic amid the slew of attacks from the Romney’s camp. Romney is clearly hoping to rile Gingrich enough that he would reverse back to his unpredictable self. However, the former House Speaker has been holding up surprisingly well. This will likely enhance his standing with social conservatives in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.

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