Romney won't sign Iowa group's marriage pledge

Yes, the same one that Bachmann signed and for which she took so much heat that even Gingrich ended up backing away from it.

Thus far it’s just her and Santorum. Your move, Mr. Pawlenty.

When it was first circulated last week, the introduction to the pledge stated that African American children were more likely to be raised in two-parent households when they were born into slavery than they are today. The group struck that language and apologized after black ministers complained, but it said it stands by the rest of the document.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, told The Associated Press in a written statement Tuesday that Romney “strongly supports traditional marriage,” but that the oath “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

Romney, who supported rights for gay couples in Massachusetts, was criticized in Iowa by some Iowa social conservatives during his 2008 campaign, when he finished second in the caucuses after aggressively courting Christian conservatives…

The Family Leader, an organization formed last year and positioning itself to be an influential player in the 2012 caucuses, said Tuesday they stand by the 14 policy positions listed under the promise to “defend and to uphold the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman.”

Here’s a PDF of the pledge, which is all over the map politically. I’m keen to hear which parts specifically he thought were “undignified and inappropriate” for a campaign, especially now that the radioactive language about slavery has been dropped. As for the politics of this, it would have caused him more headaches to sign than not to sign. He’s all but given up on Iowa and he’ll never be social cons’ candidate of choice, so he’s better off using this to draw a distinction with Bachmann that he can reference later. Until someone threatens him in New Hampshire he’ll stay focused on the general election and his electability vis-a-vis Obama. This is one less thing the Democrats can use against him to knock him off-message from the economy.

Can’t wait to see what T-Paw does here. He probably has to sign to protect himself among social conservatives — it might finish him off in Iowa if he didn’t and he can’t afford that like Mitt can — but if he does then he’ll be dealing with this from now until election day, assuming he’s nominated. Tough call. Oh — incidentally, the AP claims that Romney’s the first Republican presidential candidate to reject the Iowa pledge. Not so.