(Photo: AP Images / John Amis)
Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich, in an effort to get past the scrutiny surrounding his past marital indiscretions, is inviting Christian conservatives to discuss his personal failings.
The former House speaker is not ducking questions about his multiple marriages and divorces while he travels the country stirring up excitement for his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Instead, he is inviting evangelicals to probe into his past.
"I think people have to look at me, ask tough questions, then render judgment," Gingrich told The Associated Press on Monday while in Iowa. "I have made mistakes in my life. I have had to go to God to ask for forgiveness and seek reconciliation."
Gingrich said he would have liked to skip the subject all together. However, he rationalizes that the open dialogue about his sordid marital past will prevent the issue from reaching the level of discourse given Obama’s U.S. citizenship.
"If citizenship requires these kinds of conversations, these conversations are worth having," he told AP.
Gingrich has been married three times and divorced twice. He left his first wife, Jackie Battley, while she was suffering from uterine cancer, according to Esquire magazine. Both wives two and three were his mistresses from previous marriages.
Reportedly a recent Catholic convert, Gingrich says he has come clean about his behavior – both to voters and God.
Last March, Gingrich explained to the CBN News that he knew what he was doing was wrong back then, but he still did them. He then said that he has since asked God’s forgiveness.
“I do believe in a forgiving God,” he shared.
Gingrich’s candor has changed the opinions of some Christians. Monte Knudsen, an evangelical pastor from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, told AP that Gingrich’s truthfulness is “admirable.”
Knudsen also said, “I think it will be a difficult thing for him to overcome. It's not just one failure that he's had, but several."
Still, Gingrich may have a better chance at wooing Christian voters now that Huckabee, a favorite among many Christians, has bowed out of the race.
A March Barna poll revealed that evangelicals gave an 88 percent favorable rating to Huckabee. Only 11 percent of evangelicals gave an unfavorable response to Huckabee.
The former Southern Baptist pastor told viewers of Fox News television show that although everything is pointing towards a presidential run, in his heart he does not feel it is the right thing.
“For me, the discussion and decision is not a political one, it is not a financial one, it is not even a practical one, it is a spiritual one,” he told fans.
Donald Trump, who was gaining momentum among conservatives, has also backed away from the 2012 race.
A Monday Gallup poll shows that Gingrich has an 84 percent name recognition rating among Republicans – the second best among the list of 11 GOP hopefuls. He is also among the top three GOP nominee picks behind Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.