Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images.
Remember that pledge that a conservative Christian group in Iowa asked all the Republican candidates to take this summer? The one that made them vow to uphold the institution of marriage (and reject pornography, and Islamic law, and marriage rights for gays, and…)?
Newt Gingrich declined to sign it back then, when he was way behind in the polls. But now, it seems, he has changed his mind. USA Today reports Gingrich has now signed the pledge, which, among other things, commits him to supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Oh yes, and it commits him to not committing adultery—something he has been known to do on a few occasions in the past. Twice-divorced, he began an affair with his current wife, Callista, while still married to another woman in 1993.
In a letter explaining his support for the pledge, circulated by the Iowa Family Leader, Gingrich wrote, “I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.” Politico has the full letter here.
What could have changed between July, when Gingrich decided not to sign the document, and today? Well, for one thing, he’s now the clear frontrunner in Iowa—but the state’s evangelical voters are torn over his history of affairs, Bloomberg News reports. The Family Leader itself is torn between Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum as it eyes a candidate endorsement, the Washington Post explains.
Meanwhile, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Gingrich made it clear where he thinks he stands among the GOP field. “I’m the frontrunner,” he said, according to Politico.
The polls back him up.
Once a dark horse, the former House Speaker in recent weeks has become the latest candidate to pull ahead of Mitt Romney and the rest of the field in national polls. But perhaps more importantly, he now also holds widening leads in key states just weeks ahead of the first primaries.
The Hill reports that a University of Iowa* poll released this morning gave Gingrich a double-digit lead among the state’s likely Republican caucus-goers. The Hawkeye Poll showed Gingrich’s support at 30 percent, with Romney in second at 20 percent and Ron Paul third at 11 percent. Michele Bachmann was fourth with 9 percent, Rick Perry fifth, and Rick Santorum sixth.
Meanwhile, a new NBC/Marist poll shows Gingrich with even greater leads in South Carolina and Florida, whose primaries are slated for Jan. 21 and Jan. 31, respectively. Gingrich has the backing of 42 percent in South Carolina to Romney’s 23 percent, and 44 percent in Florida to Romney’s 29 percent, CBS News reports.
"I'm now, I think by a big margin, the front-runner,” Gingrich said. “So everybody’s going to pile on, and they’re going to try to knock me down.”
Correction, Dec. 12, 2011: This story originally misidentified the university that conducts the Hawkeye Poll. It is the University of Iowa, not Iowa University.