Deace quoted the Prophet Isaiah for advice. From Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” That’s doubling as advice for Iowa evangelicals. Reason together. You like Newt anyway. In the scheme of things, his misdeeds aren’t so bad.

“Take the Apostle Paul, for example,” says Vander Plaats. “He wasn’t just bad before his conversion. He called himself the worst of the worst. He tried to thwart the gospel. He tried to abolish Christianity.” It’s true: Compared to Paul, Newt’s offenses don’t seem that bad. The father of the church reminisced about watching Christians die, consenting to their deaths.

This has all been discussed at the higher levels of evangelical politics; it’s largely been litigated. If you read between the lines of evangelical leaders’ statements, they’re incredibly forgiving toward Newt. Look at the open letter that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote this week. “A high percentage of Evangelical men are willing to cut you some slack over your turbulent marital history,” he wrote. “The bad news is that Evangelical women are far less willing to forgive and let bygones be bygones.”