Former House speaker Newt Gingrich attempted a tricky balancing act last night in Waukee, a small town outside Des Moines: In a speech to social conservatives at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, he blasted President Obama’s values; then, minutes later, in a Fox News interview, sought forgiveness for his own past indiscretions.
For Gingrich, framing the values debate on his own terms — as a discussion of Judeo-Christian heritage rather than a messy contrast of personal histories — will be a challenge. Gingrich’s Monday appearance was the first road test of his punch-then-navel-gaze approach.
Gingrich, a high-profile media figure for decades, knows that his two divorces will be endlessly highlighted. His hope, it appears, is that being frank and conciliatory on that front will inoculate him as he continues to skewer Obama as leader of the “secular, socialist Left.”
“Morality applies across the board,” Gingrich remarked to the thousands gathered at Point of Grace Church. “Morality matters in economics because balancing the budget is an essentially moral, not economic, question about whether or not politicians ought to follow the same rules as the rest of us.”