Anonymous Iowa Christian group launches attack on Gingrich

An anonymous Iowa group — Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government — is circulating a letter slamming Newt Gingrichs marital infidelities and warning Bob Vander Plaats, a top Iowa social conservative, that his group better not back the former House Speaker.

Vander Plaats is perhaps the most well-known social conservative in the state, and his group plans to endorse either Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum or Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannGillibrand becomes latest candidate scrutinized for how she eats on campaign trail Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Yes, condemn Roseanne, but ignoring others is true hypocrisy MORE for president. His groups endorsement could be key for any Republican looking to unite evangelicals, who make up a large part of the Republican base in Iowa, against Mitt Romney.

The letter comes as polling shows Gingrich surging in the presidential race. An Insider Advantage poll out Tuesday showed Gingrich with a 15-point lead in the early caucus state.

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We have serious concerns that your endorsement may be guided, not by prayer and conviction, but by personal benefit and prior relationships. Of which, would seem to lead you toward Newt Gingrich and, needless to say, he is not an acceptable choice among Christians, the group wrote in the letter, which then detailed infidelities that Gingrich committed as well as those from Vander Plaatss 2006 gubernatorial running mate, former Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa).

Mr. Vander Plaats, all of our concerns derive from a larger one that your endorsement may be for sale, either for money or for status, the group wrote. Please don’t sell Iowa’s values to the highest bidder. These 30 pieces of silver are simply not worth the weight your conscience will bear as you consider misleading thousands of Christian voters in Iowa into believing Mr. Gingrich represents their values.

Vander Plaats and Gingrich’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment, but Steve Scheffler, another prominent Iowa social conservative who heads the Iowa Faith & Freedom organization, blasted the letter’s authors.

Anybody who doesn’t have the guts and manhood to say ‘This is who I am ought to be discounted, he said. It’s despicable. ... Have the manhood or womanhood to put your name to it. It’s just gutless, whoever did that.

Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, said the group’s membership is a mystery, but that some prominent social conservatives have reservations about Gingrich and have lobbied Vander Plaats against endorsing him.

But Robinson agreed that Vander Plaats is not someone likely to be swayed by an anonymous letter.

I don’t think he’s going to respond to bullying at all, Robinson said of Vander Plaats.