Evangelical Republicans can either vote for someone who believes and lives the values they share, or they can vote for someone who might actually win. With Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and RIck Santorum struggling in polls, the choice values voters face, as Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress told Slate's Dave Weigel, is, "Do you vote for a Mormon who's had one wife, a Catholic who's had three wives, or an Evangelical who may have had an entire harem?" Weigel writes that while evangelical leaders are trying to figure out a way to forgive Newt Gingrich for his indiscretions, evangelical voters are skeptical.
A focus group of 12 Republican primary voters conducted by NBC and The Wall Street Journal found that while they liked Gingrich more than Mitt Romney, they were far more worried about Gingrich's personal life than they were his more moderate position on immigration or his ties to Freddie Mac, NBC News' First Read reports. When asked what kind of family member each Republican candidate might be, one voter said Gingrich was the "uncle who keeps bringing home different wives." They write, "One female focus-group member -- the same who called him 'careless and combustible' -- said she would probably vote for Obama if Gingrich were the GOP nominee simply over the personal stuff."
Weigel reports that Gingrich has been trying to make amends -- asking for forgiveness on James Dobson's radio show in 2007 -- but evangelical leaders want more. (Some were surprised the Christian group The Family Leader even invited Gingrich to its forum in November, he writes.) Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote an open letter to Gingrich asking that he make a big speech that would explain “once and for all” his past, he told the Daily Caller. It sounds kind of like Obama's race speech in 2008, but about cheating. “Evangelicals, by definition, are a forgiving people,” Land told The Daily Caller. “Confession, redemption, forgiveness is part of our theological DNA. But, it helps when you ask people to forgive you.”