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Perry, Gingrich Woo Evangelicals

Perry, Gingrich woo evangelicals in Iowa

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    In GOP race, candidates are wooing evangelicals in Iowa.

    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.

    Perry's campaign went even further earlier in the week, releasing an ad entitled "Strong" that decries "President Obama's war on religion."

    "I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school," Perry says in the ad.

    Once posted to YouTube by the campaign, over 2.7 million viewers have seen the ad, with a vast majority in opposition as reflected by the number of "dislikes" the video has collected. Only 10,406 have "liked" the ad, while an overwhelming 429,025 have "disliked" it. Not all viewers vote after watching a YouTube video.

    The ad is deisgned to woo evangelical Christians in Iowa just weeks before the caucuses.

    The Associate Press' Shannon McCaffrey and Phillip Elliott contributed to this report.