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Gingrich's Inside Track with Iowa Evangelicals Gingrich's Inside Track with Iowa Evangelicals

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Gingrich's Inside Track with Iowa Evangelicals

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Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Republican presidential debate in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

More conventional wisdom that needs dispelling this primary season: The adulterous and thrice-married Newt Gingrich will be unable to attract evangelical voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

While it's true that the former House speaker ultimately may fail to achieve the redemption he's seeking from Iowa evangelicals, it is also a fact that he has been quietly building bridges to that important segment of the caucus-going electorate for more than a year now. And, he not only built the bridges, he paid for them. And that could turn out to be Gingrich's greatest secret weapon against his rivals in the Republican caucus in January.

Gingrich's financial ties to Freddie Mac and the mortgage market, the ethanol industry and big health care have gotten lots of well-deserved scrutiny lately, but less well analyzed is a nonprofit he started called Renewing American Leadership (ReAL), which was devoted to issues the religious right cares about. The organization was financed by donations solicited by Gingrich and run by a trusted political operative, Rick Tyler, who later went to work for his presidential campaign, according to multiple news accounts. ReAL poured $150,000 into the successful campaign by Iowa social conservatives in 2010 to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges, who were targeted after the high court struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage.

 

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