Tracking Newt Gingrich’s Recent Claims
Mitt Romney won Tuesday's Florida primary, tying with second-place Newt Gingrich among evangelicals by receiving 37 percent of votes from evangelicals. The votes were a boost for Romney, who received far fewer votes among evangelicals in South Carolina. The Gingrich campaign likely saw the loss coming. In the final days of the Florida campaign, the Gingrich campaign reached out to social conservatives and evangelicals, despite some steep challenges.
The Gingrich campaign announced on Tuesday that it had "nine new leaders for its Florida Faith Leaders Coalition," according to Religion Dispatches. When Sarah Posner contacted those on the list of new leaders, she found that three of the pastors were unaware of the the coalition and were not working with the campaign. The Gingrich campaign has not responded to Posner's requests for comment.
The Florida Faith Leaders Coalition came after Gingrich announced a position on life that was a change from the one he held just two months ago. Previously, he suggested that life begins at implantation and favored federally funded stem cell research on embryos created for in vitro fertilization process but never implanted. He told a Baptist church on Sunday that life begins at conception, he opposes all stem cell research and wants to investigate the ethics of in vitro fertilization efforts.
"I believe life begins at conception...If you have in vitro fertilization, you are creating life; therefore, we should look seriously at what the rules should be for clinics that are doing that, because they are creating life," Gingrich said.
In December, Gingrich told ABC that human life begins at "implantation and successful implantation." He said he took this position, "because otherwise you're going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions."
This fit with his previous statements on the issue from 2001, when he supported President Bush's policy on embryonic stem cell research. "For many of us, there's a very, very real distinction between doing something with an unborn child, a fetus that is implanted, and doing something with cells in a fertility clinic that are otherwise going to be destroyed," Gingrich said at the time.
Gingrich's change on stem cell research came after media outlets raised questions about his previous marriages. During a debate days before the South Carolina primary, Gingrich refuted any claim that he asked his second wife for an "open marriage." He rebuked CNN's John King for asking him about an interview his ex-wife did for ABC.
"Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false," Gingrich said. "We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested because they would like to attack any Republican."
After the debate, however, several media outlets pressed the campaign for details on who was vouching for the former House Speaker. The Gingrich campaign conceded that it did not provide any "personal friends" to ABC; the only people the campaign offered to ABC were Gingrich's daughters from his first marriage.