Ken Connor

The inevitable has happened. After weeks of steadily plummeting polls numbers and increasing political pressure, Herman Cain's campaign has finally collapsed under the weight of multiple allegations of sexual infidelity. The general assumption is that Newt Gingrich will be the primary benefactor of Cain's demise. Unlike the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, Gingrich's political star has been on the rise. Having pulled virtually even with Mitt Romney in key primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich's 11th hour surge has further muddied the already murky waters of the GOP presidential pool. Yet many conservatives are wondering: How is it that mere rumors of sexual misconduct can destroy one man's campaign, while a confirmed serial adulterer can rise to popular prominence notwithstanding the troubling character issues that dog his past?

In other words, why does Newt Gingrich get a free pass and Herman Cain get the boot?

A recent article on Slate.com offers a pretty good explanation, particularly with regard to evangelical Christians' willingness to overlook – or at least forgive – Gingrich's less than admirable personal life:

The leadership of the evangelical right, as loose as it is, has the most influence over a Republican nomination in Iowa, in the caucuses. With a month to go, the candidate who said the right things and built the right-sized lead over Romney is Gingrich. Evangelical kingmakers, whom Newt has courted for years, are discussing how to forgive him.

What does that mean for Gingrich? [Christian radio personality Steve] Deace quoted the Prophet Isaiah for advice. From Isaiah 1:18: 'Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' That's doubling as advice for Iowa evangelicals. Reason together. You like Newt anyway. In the scheme of things, his misdeeds aren't so bad.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.