DES MOINES – A coalition of national and Iowa conservative groups launched a four-day bus tour Tuesday to 22 Iowa cities to rally “values voters” to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage as the presidential race heats up with a GOP candidate debate and the Republican straw poll event in Ames later this week.
Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, joined representatives of the Susan B. Anthony List, the Family Research Council Action’s Faith Family Freedom Fund and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in launching the 22-city tour that promoters hope will inform Iowans which candidates have signed a pro-life presidential leadership pledge and can be counted on as a strong leader in defending human life and traditional marriage.
“Value voters will be closely watching this week’s events as they determine which of the candidates are willing to do what it takes, once elected, to restore fiscal sanity, protect marriage, safeguard religious liberty and protect the rights of the unborn,” said Connie Mackey of Family Research Council Action.
Mackey noted that economic issues have overshadowed social concerns, but Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader based in Pleasant Hill, said Americans are making a connection that fiscal matters are dependent on a strong moral foundation and family values to thrive.
“There’s no doubt that people want bold leadership today — bold leadership on limited government, bold leadership on fiscal integrity, bold leadership on promoting free enterprise and bold leadership when it comes to the family issues,” Vander Plaats said. “I think a lot of people are finally starting to connect the dots that as you promote the erosion of the family, you’ll never limit the size of government and you’ll never create an economic environment where things can thrive.”
Former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, now with Susan B. Anthony’s List, called Democrat Barack Obama “one of the most pro-abortion president in history.”
She said the bus-tour activists were getting out the message that “pro-lifers have not gone away” and that opposition to abortion and support for traditional one-man, one-woman marriage would be winning issues in 2012, not political liabilities as some want to make them out to be.
Pawlenty touted his support of abortion restrictions while governor of Minnesota and he credited a decline in the procedures in his home state to the work of abortion opponents who helped change public attitudes.
“We will ultimately win this cause by winning over the hearts and minds of people,” he said. “We’re going to win this cause because we’re right.”
Troy Price of One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group,” said the tour was another example of out-of-state organizations coming into Iowa with the intent of trying to inject their political influence in the state that kicks off the presidential nominating process.
“It was four or five speakers before we first saw an Iowan speak. I think it underscores that these groups are trying to come in and influence the straw poll and trying to influence the voters here in Iowa but I don’t think that voters are necessarily buying it,” Price said. “I think that at the end of the day this conversation is about freedom, freedom to marry the person you love, and these national organizations are here trying to take away that right. But we’re going to fight and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that marriage equality remains here in Iowa.”
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