Pawlenty declines to sign Family Leader Marriage Pledge, promotes ‘faith’ video

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Tim Pawlenty today declined to sign the Family Leader’s controversial Marriage Vow Pledge. Instead, his campaign is promoting a video in which Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, discuss their faith and values.

“I deeply respect, and share, Bob Vander Plaats’ commitment to promoting the sanctity of marriage, a culture of life, and the core principles of the Family Leader’s Marriage Vow Pledge,” Pawlenty wrote in a statement. “However, 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.”

“I respectfully decline to sign the pledge,” Pawlenty concluded.

Lest that leave doubts about his faith, the Pawlenty campaign is aggressively promoting the 6-minute long video in which he and his wife discuss their faith and their beliefs for Iowa voters.

“Voters have a right to know about their leaders’ faith and values, and how those beliefs may shape their decisions. To that end, today my campaign released a new video in which both Mary and I speak directly and openly about our faith. I fully support traditional marriage. Unequivocally. The traditional family faces enormous challenges in America, and if elected I would vigorously oppose any effort to redefine marriage as anything other than between one man and one woman,” Pawlenty said.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is spearheading Pawlenty’s Iowa campaign, touted the video in an email to Iowa voters on Wednesday.

“Governor Pawlenty’s commitment to faith and family is not a product of coaching by campaign consultants. As a devoted husband to Mary and supportive father to Anna and Mara, Governor Pawlenty gets it. For the Pawlentys, parenting is not just an obligation — it’s a moral responsibility,” Sanders emailed.

Attaching the video, Sanders wrote: “View it now and you’ll immediately understand why I’m in Iowa working to help elect Governor Pawlenty as the next President of the United States.”

The campaign is also running radio ads statewide in Iowa promoting the video.

The Family Leader is a social conservative group run by Bob Vander Plaats. The group, which has involved itself in presidential politics, has said that it will not endorse any candidate who does not sign the pledge.  The Family Leader asks candidates to promise, among other things, that they will be faithful to their spouses, appoint only constitutionalist judges, oppose any definition of marriage other than between one man and one woman — including gay marriage and polygamy, reject Sharia law, and commit to shrinking the debt.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are the only two candidates who have signed the pledge.

Mitt Romney declined to sign. His spokeswoman Andrea Saul, told the Associated Press that his refusal was because the pledge “contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

One such provision, a claim that African-Americans who were slaves were more likely to be raised by both their parents than blacks today, has since been removed.