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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 20, 2011
What’s Ahead Dec. 20: Evangelical endorsement today likely to reconfigure Iowa caucus race

No doubt the most-watched political of the day will be The Family Leader’s announcement its endorsement of a candidate in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses.

Bob Vander Plaats

It comes on the heels of Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen’s announcement that he will endorse Newt Gingrich. A formal announcement is planned at the Iowa Capitol Dec. 20.

In endorsing the former U.S. House speaker, Paulsen called Gingrich “a consistent conservative who has led this effort before and, I believe, can lead it again.”

“We need a president who is ready to lead and, more importantly, ready to release the energy of the American people and American spirit,” Paulsen said.

Previously, The Family Leader ruled out endorsing either Herman Cain, who has “suspended” his campaign, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Cain was eliminated from consideration because he lacked clarity on the “issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness”.

Paul was axed because of his position on the 10th Amendment and states’ right as it relates to both abortion and same-sex marriage. While he opposes both, Paul has said they are issues for states, rather than the federal government, to decide.

That leaves Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum under consideration by The Family Leader board of directors.

Mitt Romney was not considered for the endorsement, according to Vander Plaats despite being recognized as a top-tier candidate in Iowa and nationally. Vander Plaats criticized Romney for not taking part in the group’s November candidate forum that drew about 2.500 people.

Four years ago, evangelical voters blessed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with their support and he won the Iowa precinct caucuses. Although he was rising in formal and informal analysis of the 2008 GOP field, his win over Romney, who had a much bigger and better financed organization, came as a surprise.

This year, evangelicals have not –yet – coalesced around a candidate.

As the Washington Post reported Monday:

“For evangelical voters, this is not a season of clarity.

“They are trying to decide if moral fiber is more important than religious affiliation, if the right relationship with Jesus Christ trumps the right portfolio to defeat President Obama, and if Mormonism is to be regarded with more suspicion than the Catholicism that many evangelicals have come to tolerate.

“What is clear from the Iowa evangelicals gathered here is that they remain open to inspiration.”

What isn’t clear – yet – is whether they are looking to The Family Leader for that inspiration.

The Family Leader describes itself as an organization that “provides a consistent, courageous voice in the churches, in the legislature, in the media, in the courtroom, in the public square … always standing for God’s truth.”

Its endorsement, Vander Plaats explained, would endorse, Vander Plaats described a three-legged stool of “personal core values” of the candidate as well as each candidates’ “pro-family vision.”

The final leg, Vander Plaats said, is “Can they beat Obama?” which, he said, includes the question “Can they beat Romney?”

Vander Plaats said it’s possible The Family Leader might endorse more than one candidate. Of course, that would water down the impact of the endorsement – for the candidates and for the group.

On the calendar:

Dec. 20

Michele Bachmann, 9:30 a.m. Falcon Civic Center, Independence; 11 a.m. Victories Restaurant, Fayette; noon, YMCA, Postville; 1:30 p.m., Franklin Hotel, Strawberry Point; 2:30 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Manchester; 4 p.m., MannaJava, Dubuque; Flapjack’s Family Restaurant, Maquoketa; 6:20 p.m., DeWitt Community Center; 7:30 p.m., Christmas party, 3195 Westminster Rd., Bettendorf

Rick Perry, 11:45 a.m., Hotel Decker, Maquoketa; 1:30 p.m.; Main Street Walk, DeWitt; 3:30 p.m., Candlelight Inn, Clinton; 5:30 p.m., Figge Art Museum, Davenport

Newt Gingrich, 10 a.m., Hy-Vee, Mount Pleasant; 1 p.m., Al Jon Company, Ottumwa; 4:15 p.m., Smokey Row Coffee House, Oskaloosa; 6 p.m., TBA, Knoxville

Rick Santorum, 9 a.m., Monarch Restaurant, Royal Amsterdam Hotel, Pella; 12:30 p.m., Mount Pleasant Public Library; 4 p.m., health care forum, Genesis Medical Center, Davenport; 6 p.m. house party with 2nd District GOP congressional hopeful John Archer, Bettendorf

Dec. 21

Rick Santorum, 8 a.m., Broadway Café, West Burlington; noon, Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield; 6:30 p.m., house party, Iowa City

Ron Paul, 10 a.m., Comfort Inn & Suites, Fort Madison; noon, Civic Center, Mount Pleasant; 3 p.ml., Washington Public Library, Washington; 7 p.m., Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf

Newt Gingrich, Des Moines

Rick Perry, noon, Port City Underground, Muscatine; 1:30 p.m., Button Factory, Muscatine; 4:15 p.m. De Brito Baking Bistro, Mount Pleasant

Dec. 22

Rick Perry, 9 a.m., Drake on the Waterfront, Burlington; noon, Kuhly’s Bar & Grill, Ottumwa; 3 p.m., TPI, Newton

Ron Paul, 10 a.m., Historic Clinton Engines Building, Maquoleta; noon, Grand River Center, Dubuque, 3 p.m., Delaware County Fairgrounds, Manchester; 7 p.m., Hotel Kirkwood, Cedar Rapids

Dec. 27

Rick Perry, 10:45 a.m., Main Street Café, Council Bluffs; 1:15 p.m., Glenn Miller Museum, Clarinda; 3:30 p.m., Adams Street Espresso, Creston; 5 :30 p.m., Clarke County REC, Osceola

Newt Gingrich, Iowa

Dec. 28

Rick Perry, 7 a.m., Westside Conservative Club, Machine Shed Restaurant, Urbandale; 1:30 p.m., The Sports Page, Indianola; 3:30 p.m. Smokey Row Coffee Shop, Pella; 5 p.m., Smokey Row Coffee Shop, Oskaloosa

Dec. 29

Rick Perry, 10 a.m., Coffee Corner, Washington; 12:30 p.m., Blue Strawberry, 118 2nd St. SE, Cedar Rapids; 5:30 p.m., Fisher Community Center Auditorium, Marshalltown

Dec. 30

Rick Perry, noon, Doughy Joey’s, 300 W. 4th St, Waterloo; 2:45 p.m., Fainting Goat, Waverly; 5:30 p.m., Cerro Gordo County GOP fundraiser, Mason City County Club

Dec. 31

Rick Perry, 10:30 a.m., Bloomers at Central Coffee Shop, Fort Dodge; 12:45 p.m., Dutch Oven Bakery, Boone


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