Monday night, five potential Republican presidential candidates gathered in Waukee, Iowa to woo social conservatives in the early primary state with their conservative credentials. They panned the left, President Barack Obama, and even one of their own – Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who has yet to decide whether or not he will enter the Republican primary.
“You know someone suggested we call a truce on social and moral issues,” said Ralph Reed, Chairman of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, referring to Daniels’ call for a truce on social issues, in his introductory speech.
“I seem to remember Ronald Reagan fighting and winning the Cold War at the very time that he was restoring values and growing the economy,” Reed continued. “I don’t know about you but I’d like to have a leader that can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
He called a truce “unilateral disarmament,” contending that Obama would not hold up his end.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza Herman Cain, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum touted their values at a forum hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. The likely candidates – of them only Cain and Roemer have formed exploratory committees – talked about their pro-life values, and support for traditional marriage, among other things.
Herman Cain kicked off the night, faulting the Obama administration for suing the state of Arizona over its immigration law, “when they were simply trying to protect themselves,” and for telling the Department of Justice not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. He sounded calls for smaller government and entitlement reform, and touted his pro-life values.
He was followed by Gingrich, who called for the elimination of the Obama administration’s tsars, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, “reinstating conscious protection” for those who “as a matter of conscience, object to doing what the left wants done.” He, too, debunked the idea of a “truce” on social issues.
Buddy Roemer’s address seemed more geared toward introducing himself, having announced his candidacy only three days prior. He thanked god for the tea party, and declared his pro-life values.
Tim Pawlenty got in a jab at Obama early. “Well thanks a lot,” he said, as he walked to the podium. “Or as President Obama would say, you’re welcome.” He attacked abortion, affirmed that marriage was defined as between one man and one woman, and emphasized the importance of religion in our modern times.
“We need to remember,” he said, “as others try to push out or marginalize people of faith … the Constitution was designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith.
Speaking last, Santorum gave a speech that was heavy on his opposition to abortion. The former senator spoke of a bill he had introduced to guarantee medical protection to a child that was born after a botched abortion. Then a senator, Obama opposed it, saying that it impinged on a woman’s rights as laid out by Roe v. Wade.“Now who’s the extremist in the abortion debate?” Santorum asked. He went on to compare entitlements to drug addiction. “Isn’t that what entitlements do? Make you dependent,” he said.
Santorum echoed the criticisms of Daniel’s call for a truce on social issues. “These moral issues that everyone says, ‘oh, maybe we should set to the side and have a truce on.’ You can’t,” he said. “It is who we are. It is the purpose of our country.”