On the opening segment of tonight’s Hardball (replayed at 7:00 p.m. EST. on MSNBC), pundits Howard Fineman, Josh Marshall and host Chris Matthews examine former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s calculated appeal to religious conservatives in Iowa. Gingrich and several other Republican presidential hopefuls spoke last night at the state’s “Faith and Freedom” forum.
Not too long ago Gingrich was a secularist, a political leader who paid necessary lip service to the Republican evangelical base but who cared more about lowering the capital gains rate than the abortion rate. Gingrich has changed – he converted to Catholicism last year and wears his new found faith (one with a particularly conservative, some would say “orthodox” bent) on his sleeve. His party has also changed.