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Newt Gingrich wins American Family Assn. founder's endorsement

December 20, 2011|By Kim Geiger
(Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Newt Gingrich got a boost Tuesday from Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Assn. and American Family Radio, an influential group of conservative Christians.

The endorsement comes as Gingrich struggles to win the support of social conservatives, many of whom object to his history of infidelity and multiple marriages.

Wildmon -- whose organizations promote Christian values via 190 radio stations in 20 states, including Iowa -- praised Gingrich as an experienced politician who can get results.

"Newt Gingrich recognizes the threat to our country posed by judges and lawyers imposing values upon the country inconsistent with our religious heritage, and has proposed constitutional steps to bring the courts back in balance under the constitution,” Wildmon said in a statement.

“We need someone in the White House who can balance the budget and get the economy moving again,” Wildmon said. “Newt has done it before and I believe he can do it again.  I am proud to endorse Newt Gingrich for president.”

Gingrich said he was “humbled and honored” to have the endorsement, calling Wildmon “one of the most important leaders in the country in the battle to uphold our founding principles.”

Gingrich has longstanding ties to Wildmon and his network of organizations.

American Family Assn. paid the former House speaker $8,000 in fees last year to speak at a number of policy briefings, according to a report by Politico.  Gingrich also helped raise money for a group that later donated $125,000 to American Family Assn. Action, a social welfare nonprofit that spent heavily in Iowa to defeat judges who supported gay marriage, according to the Associated Press.

More recently, Gingrich took to the group’s radio arm to reassure social conservatives that his history of infidelity is over.

In an interview last spring with AFA’s Bryan Fischer, Gingrich said he hoped voters would be willing “to look at the whole person,” when deciding who to support for the presidency.

“I’ve been very open and very direct about the fact that there were times I have fallen short, there are times I have failed, and that I have gone to God and asked for forgiveness,” Gingrich said. “…I’m not asking you to vote for who I might have been 20 years ago, but I am asking you to look at the total person.”

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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