In GOP race, candidates are wooing evangelicals

December 8, 2011 - 6:26 PM

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Newt Gingrich pitched his story of personal redemption at a private gathering of pastors in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along South Carolina's coast, Rick Perry quoted Scripture as he worked to pump life into his floundering White House bid.

As the Republican campaign for president hurtles toward the leadoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, evangelicals are being courted with vigor.

And with good reason.

Christian voters hold tremendous sway among the Republican electorate in early-voting states. That's especially true in Iowa and South Carolina where they made up 60 percent of primary or caucus voters there in the last presidential race. Religious voters have shown themselves to be skeptical of Mitt Romney, a Mormon, leaving their votes up for grabs.