Newt Gingrich emerged as the winner of the October 22 Iowa Faith and Freedom Forum, if measured by the level of audience applause. The Christian-right audience gave the thrice-married Gingrich several rounds of loud applause and an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of his address.
Gingrich — a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who began the presidential race with a devastating resignation by much of his campaign staff — had been judged not a viable candidate. He was even parodied several times on Saturday Night Live as a "curio from a bygone era." Yet Gingrich has gradually risen in the polls after performing well in recent debates, and has been scoring in the high single digits in national polls in recent weeks.
The national Faith and Freedom Coalition is run by former Pat Robertson functionary Ralph Reed, who served as head of Robertson's Christian Coalition. Both the Christian Coalition and the Faith and Freedom Coalition focus upon social issues such as the sanctity of marriage, abortion, and opposing the homosexual agenda.
The additional irony of the strong crowd enthusiasm for Gingrich (other than his personal life) is that the former House Speaker's record is far from the conservative crowd's well-known small government preferences. Gingrich's record has proven he's no friend of limited government, even though much of his rhetoric sounds good. As a Congressman, Gingrich voted with President Jimmy Carter to create the U.S.
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Photo of Newt Gingrich: AP Images