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Gingrich Won't Sign Social Conservative Group's Pledge Without Changes Gingrich Won't Sign Social Conservative Group's Pledge Without Changes

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Politics / CAMPAIGN 2012

Gingrich Won't Sign Social Conservative Group's Pledge Without Changes

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the keynote speaker during the Georgia Republican Party Victory Dinner on May 13, 2011 in Macon, Georgia. Gingrich announced Wednesday his candidacy to run for the Republican Presidental nomination in 2012.(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

July 11, 2011

Newt Gingrich is refusing to sign a controversial marriage pledge until the Iowa-based social conservative group behind it changes its language, a spokesman for the presidential candidate told Hotline On Call.

The former speaker of the House was in Iowa on Monday at an event hosted by the Family Leader, the influential social conservative group that designed the pledge. There, he told the organization's leader, Bob Vander Plaats, that he wants to change language in the pledge, which each GOP presidential candidate was asked to sign, before agreeing to it, according to Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond.

"We're happy to work with you to sharpen it so people understand where we're going with it," Gingrich told Vander Plaats, according to Hammond. "It's not there yet."

The pro-marriage pledge, ostensibly about opposing same-sex marriage, had drawn criticism for also including provisions that asked female soldiers not be put in combat situations and asking presidential candidates remain faithful to their spouses. In a preamble to the 14-point vow, it also suggested that African-American children were better off during slavery, an incendiary remark the group apologized for during the weekend and subsequently removed.

Hammond declined to mention what parts of the pledge Gingrich specifically objected to, saying only that it needed "across the board" changes. The spokesman did say the marriage vow needed to be shortened.

It's a particularly awkward situation for the thrice-married former congressman because of the pledge's vow to fidelity - Gingrich's marital past is well-known and seen as a major hindrance to his presidential ambitions.

Two GOP presidential candidates, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Rep. Michele Bachmann , R-Minn., announced last week they would sign the pledge.

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