TPM spoke with Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa conservative activist and former gubernatorial candidate who has pitched the “Marriage Vow” pledge for presidential candidates competing in the state caucuses. And while he’s not too perturbed that Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty are not signing it (at least not yet), he’s got some pretty strong words for Mitt Romney.
Tuesday night, Romney’s campaign slammed the pledge, saying that it “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.
“One of the reasons we put the pledge together was for a person or candidate like Gov. Romney,” Vander Plaats told TPM, “because it’s been well documented that Gov. Romney has been all over the board when it comes to marriage, or abortion, or universal health care.”
Vander Plaats also added: “These types of no-commitments on my part to marriage and family, I don’t think that’s going to do his campaign any favors in the state of Iowa.
The “Marriage Vow” involves a candidate pledging personal fidelity to his or her spouse, that he or she would change divorce laws to make “quickie divorces” more difficult, and would oppose gay marriage, pornography, and “Sharia Islam,” among other things.
Two Republican candidates, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, signed the pledge, and then immediately encountered controversy due to the resolution’s original preamble language on slavery — which has since been edited out — stating, quite contrary to the facts, that African-American families were more secure under slavery than they are today, under an African-American president.
Earlier, Newt Gingrich declined to sign the pledge for now — instead wanting to work with the group to clarify other language in the pledge. Then today, Pawlenty released a statement saying in part: “rather than sign onto the words chosen by others, I prefer to choose my own words, especially seeking to show compassion to those who are in broken families through no fault of their own.”
Vander Plaats told TPM that such statements would not fully replace the pledge, but that he would be glad to work with Gingrich, and appreciates Pawlenty’s statement (which he had not yet had the chance to read, with the key quote being told to him over the phone during the interview) and invites the candidates to make their case to voters in Iowa.
“I think they’re vastly different,” said Vander Plaats. “I mean, Romney says it’s undignified and inappropriate. Undignified and inappropriate is a long way from Newt saying i want my policy guys to work with Vander Plaats and his team. And it’s a long way from the statement from Pawlenty that you just read to me.”