Iowa Social Conservatives Dubious about Gingrich

by Katrina Trinko

Some Iowa conservatives are questioning whether Newt Gingrich is pro-life enough, reports the Des Moines Register:

 

A prominent evangelical pastor, alarmed by what he sees as a stream of Iowa Republicans leaning toward Gingrich, questions whether they realize Gingrich has in the past spoken in favor of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and abortions in certain cases.

Gingrich still supports abortions in the cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. “He would allow for the three exceptions,” campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said Monday. …

“Newt is famous for being all over the board,” said Cary Gordon, a minister at Sioux City’s Cornerstone church. “He is admirable in many ways, but I won’t back him. I don’t trust him.”

If conservatives demand absolute purity on right-to-life issues when it comes to Mitt Romney, it hurts their credibility if they don’t demand the same for Gingrich, some Iowa Republicans said Monday. Others said they believe Gingrich is now opposed to abortion and embryonic stem cell use, and they’re comfortable backing him today.

As the Register goes on to note, Gingrich has signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s pro-life pledge. Ramesh had a good post earlier this month detailing Gingrich’s history on embroyonic stem cell research. 

Iowa radio host Steve Deace held a focus group with Iowa voters (ten out of the eleven were regular church attendees, to give you a sense of the demographics) yesterday, and reported this: 

 

Question 4: Are Newt’s three marriages a problem for you?

All said absolutely yes, but to varying degrees. What seemed to bother the group more than the divorces (and several in the group have been divorced) were the affairs and the seeming lack of public repentence for them. Some in the group feel Gingrich has done enough to restore their faith in him, most did not, though.

The Union-Leader endorsement has helped shape the perception that at least in the Granite State, Gingrich is likely to be the top contender against Mitt Romney. But if he flounders in Iowa, it’s hard to see Gingrich being able to win or do well in New Hampshire — and will mean that heading into South Carolina, the likely dynamic will be between Romney and whoever did win the Iowa caucuses. 

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