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Evangelical pastors divided ahead of 2012 caucuses

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 14 2011 2:55 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., campaigns in Denison, Iowa, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011.

Nati Harnik, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa's influential evangelical pastors are up for grabs, divided on which of the Republican presidential candidates who call themselves born-again Christians they should support.

Four years ago, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won Iowa's GOP caucuses partly as the consensus choice of the pastors. This time around, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum all have cases to make and have come calling.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is more moderate on many social issues. Should pastors and, by extension, evangelical voters remain divided, he could emerge from the pack by capturing voters who put jobs and economic issues above social causes.

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