Last week, I had the chance to talk to Leslie Bennetts about candidates and infidelity for a piece she wrote for The Daily Beast (Newsweek's Internet counterpart).
I was excited about the conversation because as a longtime fan of Vanity Fair, I've been reading Leslie Bennetts' reporting forever. To my delight, we had a great long chat that covered everything from whether stay-at-home moms are more likely to put up with a husband's affair than working moms (My opinion? Definitely.) to whether or not Herman Cain's wife, Gloria, had to have known about Ginger White (I say no).
The meat of Leslie's story, though, concerned what I had to say about Newt Gingrich. Unlike Herman Cain, whose alleged sexual shenanigans brought his campaign to a halt, Newt's doing well with Iowa's female social conservatives, despite his checkered past. Here's why.
Recently, Newt Gingrich has made a point of publicly apologizing for the mistakes in his past -- and his humbleness seems to be having an impact. During the Thanksgiving Family Forum a few weeks ago (which CafeMom covered in depth), Gingrich said that there was a time in his life when he felt hollow inside. After that, he said, he began reading his Bible and decided to refocus his life on God and to seek forgiveness for his mistakes.
Regardless of what you or I think of these claims, the fact is that the Iowa moms in the audience bought Gingrich's story, hook, line and sinker. I talked to a focus group of 30 moms who had been in the audience for the forum and they were absolutely swooning over Newt afterward -- and many of these women said they had been supporters of other candidates before watching Newt Gingrich during the forum, so his words were obviously very persuasive.
I was surprised that he managed to have so much of an impact on female social conservatives -- they're the voters one would think would never be able to forgive Newt Gingrich for his past -- but the women all spoke of how smart he was (if you've never seen him speak, Gingrich peppers his comments with historical references -- you feel like you're being lectured to by a college professor), and how they loved seeing his "sensitive side" during the forum. Hearing that he had repented for his sins and turned to God was all they needed to hear to give him their support.
Interesting, isn't it?
Gingrich knows this strategy is working, too. Expect to see a kinder, gentler Newt this election cycle -- As it turns out, 'smart and sensitive' may well be a winning combination when it comes to winning the Republican women's vote.
Image via American Solutions/Flickr