Influential Iowa Evangelical Group Narrows Presidential Choices; Gingrich Makes the Cut

The Family Leader's board of directors says Romney, Paul, Huntsman and Cain are out.

The Family Leader, an influential evangelical group in Iowa, has announced that its board of directors has narrowed its choices for president, and Newt Gingrich — who came close at the group's recent presidential forum to aplogizing for cheating on his former wife — is among four candidates still in the running.

The others are Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry.

In a press release issued today, the group mentioned it was troubled by Ron Paul's stance that the abortion issue is best handled by the states and raised questions about Herman Cain's stance on marriage and his readiness to be president.

The Family Leader was silent on how it felt about Gingrich's two divorces, including from wife No. 1, who he served with divorce papers while she was suffering from cancer surgery.

The group said it is "still praying for clarity" on whether or not to endorse a candidate and, if they endorse, who to endorse.

The board made clear, though, that if it does endorse, it will not consider Paul, Cain, Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman. Romney actively sought the evangelical vote in the 2008 GOP presidential caucuses but lost big to Mike Huckabee. The group was brief, but pointed, in its only remark about Romney.

“The board did not give consideration to Governor Romney,” Family Leader said in a news release.

This time around, Romney has virtually ignored Iowa, though he is scheduled to speak this week in Des Moines to an insurance group.

“We had a very healthy discussion tonight regarding our leadership role in the 2012 presidential caucuses," Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of Family Leader, said in a news release. "In many ways, what the board did tonight is typical of the Iowa caucus process. They fully understand the importance of this election and the weight of their leadership. They want to make a wise decision.”

Each individual of the seven-member voting Board of Directors expressed many positives of Rep. Ron Paul and businessman Herman Cain, according to the release. It said:

"The stumbling block for the board regarding Representative Paul dealt primarily with “States’ Rights” as it pertains to the sanctity of human life and God’s design for marriage. Regarding Mr. Cain, the board cited a narrative of questions versus clarity on the key issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness.  The board did not give consideration to Governor Romney."

The board said in the news release that it has "committed to be prayerful, diligent, and expeditious in reaching their final conclusion.  No timeline was placed on a decision." 

The Family Leader is considered influential in Iowa politics, although the degree of that influence is in question this presidential cycle as evangelicals have failed to coalesce around a single candidate. 

It held a in Des Moines.

The Iowa Caucuses are January 3. Patch will provide live coverage of the results as they come in.

Robert I. Laitres November 22, 2011 at 06:27 PM
it will "influence" only those (true believers) who would do whatever the group tells them to do. it will not affect anyone not a member of their cult.
Rutaguer November 22, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Wow, out of touch much?
Nathan November 22, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Ron Paul is the only Christian in this race that truly walks a christian life. Paul has been fighting to protect life for the past 30 years. He is the most pro-life candidate I have ever researched. What is more precious to the christian community than life? How can a christian group not consider this man yet consider Gingrich a proven adulterer and a crook? I am really questioning the integrity of this group. This may really hurt them as a valid source of influence.
Todd Richissin November 22, 2011 at 07:04 PM
I'm not all that surprised by Gingrich making the cut given the response he has received during the past several religious-sponsored candidate forums. Still, I wonder how many people will see the baggage he carries as a discredit to Family Leader for keeping him under consideration.
Anne Carothers-Kay November 22, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Perhaps the people who are applauding him would think differently if they knew more about his divorces. Thanks for including the link to that article.


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