Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gingrich's outreach to Christian conservatives

Much has been written over the last few weeks about Newt's efforts to have a dialogue with evangelicals and other Christians. The Los Angeles Times, however, was more specific than the other articles.
This year, several potential presidential candidates are vying for attention among religious conservatives. But only Gingrich was instrumental in the most heralded event of recent Christian political activism: The effort last fall to remove the Iowa judges.

'It wouldn't have happened without Newt,' said David Lane, executive director of Iowa for Freedom, the organization that led the campaign. 'Newt provided strategic advice and arranged the initial seed money, about $200,000, which is what got everything started.'

The money came from an anonymous donor whose contribution was arranged by Gingrich, Lane said.

Robert L. Vander Plaats, chief spokesman for the judicial campaign, said the former speaker provided key strategic advice.

He said Gingrich had won over pastors in the state with his 'open and transparent' approach.

'Does the faith community have high standards? You bet,' said Vander Plaats, who was Huckabee's state chairman in 2008. 'But do we also understand that we all fall short of the standards? Yes, we do.'


In October, more than 40 prominent pastors came to Virginia for a private lunch with Gingrich at Liberty University, the Christian college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Last month, Gingrich met with 10 prominent clerics at a gathering organized by Richard G. Lee, founding pastor of First Redeemer Church in the Atlanta area. Lee said Gingrich impressed the group with his leadership proposals and his repentance.

Gingrich has had similar meetings in the key electoral states of South Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire, where he met late last year with nearly 100 pastors.

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