There's a group of Republicans eager to nominate a Not Romney candidate but having trouble embracing Newt Gingrich: conservative women who don't like his history of adultery. There are two reports today about evangelicals in the South and in Iowa evangelicals who are split on picking a Not Romney because women are troubled by his three marriages. John Ryder, a Republican National Committee member from Tennessee, told Politico's Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, “Republican women are the real backbone of the party in the South, and they fundamentally mistrust Newt because of his personal life.” Concerned Women for America's Penny Nance summed that feeling up Tuesday, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that she'd like to ask Gingrich: "I want to know who are you today. Which man are you today? Which man would you be as president? I would want to sense a real change in his moral character."
Republican evangelicals in Iowa are trying to decide whether to unite behind Gingrich, The New York Times' Susan Saulny reports.. Sure, Gingrich helped finance the campaign to kick three judges off the Iowa Supreme Court because they ruled in favor of gay marriage, but he has this other problem: sleeping with women he's not married to. But if they don't get behind him, they might not be able "to stop the steamrolling Romney machine,” as Jeff Jorgensen, the Republican chairman in Pottawattamie County, told the Times. Bob Vander Plaats, president of the evangelical group the Family Leader told Saulny, "If I was caucusing tonight, and this is completely transparent and honest, my wife and I would have to have a sit-down for about an hour to say who are we supporting… We really don’t know."
And there's his woman problem. Former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott told Politico that while Romney might have a hard time selling himself to southerners, when he gets in a room with them, he can win them over. Lott "recalled that Romney had successfully worked the room during recent campaign stops in Mississippi: 'The ladies loved him.'"
The New York Times' Nate Silver wonders whether this could be Jon Huntsman's moment to become the Not Romney. He can steal some of Romney's voters, while other Not Romneys couldn't. The party establishment likes him better. If Gingrich beats Romney in New Hampshire, Silver writes, Huntsman could pitch himself as the electable alternative. Huntsman, by the way, has been married to the same woman for 28 years.