Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – Regarding Mitt Romney's planned no-show at a weekend gathering of Christian conservatives in Iowa, an influential evangelical insisted it is not a "threatening environment."
"Tell me what there is to fear by coming to this event?" Steve Scheffler said.
Scheffler is president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. His group is hosting a presidential forum in Des Moines on Saturday that will feature an estimated 1,000 attendees. Also slated to attend are Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and six Republican presidential candidates: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
It is for those reasons that Scheffler is urging the former Massachusetts governor to also attend.
"I've been kind of holding my tongue until today," Scheffler said. In the next breath, the conservative Christian let loose.
"In Romney's case, I think it's because probably he doesn't want to be there," Scheffler speculated.
"Tell me what there is to fear by coming to this event - to making their case?" he continued. "Why have the six other candidates accepted and the perceived front-runner decided not to come?"
Saying that his group has "bent over backwards to tell [the Romney campaign] this is not a threatening environment," Scheffler said. "I have to conclude that they don't feel comfortable in this arena."
CNN pressed Scheffler to explain his claim.
The organizer began by mentioning Romney's Thursday visit to Iowa where he attended three events.
"One that drew 36 people," Scheffler said, citing an unconfirmed count. "And he's elected not to come to an event that's going to have 1,000 people? Apparently he does not want to be in a setting with social and economic conservatives, I guess."
According to Scheffler, the Romney campaign "says they don't want to do 'cattle calls,'" referring to the political phrase often used to describe a mass gathering of candidates.
It's unclear Romney's reason for deciding against the event. CNN repeatedly reached out to Romney's campaign but did not receive a response.
What is clear is that Romney has attended many large gatherings of social conservatives. For example, some two weeks ago, Romney spoke to the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. – even after an influential pastor called Romney's Mormon faith "a cult." In February, before declaring his presidential bid, Romney attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Some 11,000 social conservatives attended the three-day forum and many of them warmly welcomed Romney.
CNN reminded Scheffler of Romney's most recent conservative summit appearance.
"So what? This is Iowa. I don't care if he was at that," Scheffler said.
"I'm telling you this is Iowa. This is going to be a swing state. The average …social conservative doesn't say, 'Oh, in my memory bank, by the way: he was at the national Faith and Freedom Coalition. They want to know that he was here in Iowa. Period."
And Scheffler warned that Romney's no-show could hurt in a general election.
"If he's the nominee and he's basically talking to one constituency, not another – especially in an important swing state like Iowa – I think that's a major mistake."
And we expect Mittens to stand up against world leaders, when he is afraid of teavangelicals.
Ahh religion....the world's ultimate dividing force!
Romney consulted his hat and it told him not to attend.
Just because they're early on, doesn't mean Iowa is an "important swing state". A lot of these early states have a pretty inflated perception of their own importance. The rest of the country knows it's all just theatre.
What's to 'fear' is a bunch of nuts telling you that you are not a Christian (when they are not to judge) and wanting to hear him try to defend his faith............................. Scheffler is nothing but a bully and wants the opportunity to prove it. Romney is in a no-win situation.
sounds like a set up to me !
He's making the right choice. He and the other candidates should have refrained from the Value Voters summit as well. Christian Conservatives have divided and discredited the GOP for 30 years, and it's time to tune them out. Social conservatives are an insult to politically conservative ideals. A politically conservative person wants LESS legislation, not more restrictive morality based legislation. I am extremely conservative politically. Considering the social conservative stance on gay rights, creationism in schools, and a myriad of other religious based nonsense, sometimes I have more in common with the liberals. Liberals have a fundamentally flawed ideology, but at least they aren't complete idiots.
I applaud Mitt Romney for staying away from this religious gathering of evangelicals. Seperation of church and state. More Americans need to come to their senses and quit mixing apples with oranges. I want someone to lead the country, not the congregation.
I think that Romney is correct to stay away. The evangelicals are cult Christians - its not like they are true Christians. Romney needs to appear above all the cultist people and appear Presidential if he is going to have any chance at all against President Obama.
BTW, I hope we don't get a President who is expecting to be "raptured" away at any moment. It would be reassuring to think that the President is serious about taking care of the country.
Maybe he just doesn't like the "Conservative Christian" rhetoric and bias. As a regular Christian, I sure don't. Don't recall Jesus saying anything about lower taxes for the rich, let the poor fend for themselves, and let's cut the benefits that the elderly are depending upon. Nope, don't recall any of that.
Of course it's a "setup", isn't that what good christians do.
you guys are a bunch of a&%holes, that's why it's a threatening environment!
This is another reason why we need tio get rid of all of the self-importance state primaries and meetings and go to regional primaries. No one really cares what Iowa or SC want since they are so influenced by the evangeliocal vote that it turns off the intelligent middle people in the country. If you don't believe that, ask president Huckabee or 2008 GOP candidate Huckabee.
Is this coming from the state that had Michelle Bachmann winning the straw poll recently...no offense Iowa, but the rest of the nation (and Romney obviously) does not respect your crazy opinion on the candidates. Bachmann...really? Not to mention that Evangelicals have shown to have the religous tolerance akin to radical Islam. I have NO problem with Romney skipping that event.
Unless they want to start calling Mormons Christians, there should be no problem with him not attending. And since they are extremely unlikely to do so, I say let him stay away if he wants to. What does it hurt (except his campaign). None of the GOP nominees will get my vote anyways, so it doesn't matter one way or the other.
My but the christian-righties DO take themselves seriously, don't they! Enjoy your fifteen minutes, blowhards!
Romney is certainly smart enough to know these folks are toxic; he's done right in separating himself from them.
That said, he's still a schmuck.
The LDS Faith will stand the Conservative Christian Tests every single time....Mr Romney is a Good Man and It's a bit dissappointing the he won't participate in this event, because he is bound and determined to not allow Religion to become part of the conversation. We of The LDS Faith welcome a deeper inspection of our beliefs and we have 50,000-60,000 missionaries teaching The Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world every day. Mr Romney only frustrates me because he won't participate in the conversation in order to remain politically correct....
The fact that the DNC is already campaigning against him proves he is the front runner. The fact that several polls of republican voters say that he is the biggest threat to Obama proves that he is a front runner. He gave his Mormon speech last time around, he doesnt need to do it again. Republicans, line up behind your front runner, or left leaning Independents like me who want Obama gone just will be forced to help re-elect him
I believe it is because of his faith, especially if they say a group prayer or something. Having said that, I'll be the first to admit that I'm wrong because I really don't know. But here's what I do know. The LDS church, like many many other churches, schools, etc sponsor Bot Scout Troops, you know, the By Scouts of America. Several times a year the Scout troops in the area have a joint campout over the weekend. Sunday mornings of these joint campouts of the Boy scouts of America they hold a Very, Very Non-denominational church service for obvious reasons. The LDS (Mormons) Church sponsored scout troops hold their own church service far away from the rest of the Boy Scout Troops participating in the Non-denominational church service. That is why I believe there is something there, do I know what it is, no I do not, I do wonder though.
"And Scheffler warned that Romney's no-show could hurt in a general election"
Threats from an evangelical? Is the "Iowa Faith and Freedom Coaltion" a tax-exempt organization? The more they
push their un-Christian agenda, the harder I will work against anybody they support.
Anytime you have a group with a name and not a religious affiliation and the person in charge calls himself an Evangelist ( ever notice it's never a woman?)- you've got a problem
What's to fear: bigotry, stupidity, arrogance, intolerance, hatred, small-mindedness and a host of other evangelical traits.
For a state with just over 3 million people and 9 electoral votes, Iowa repubs sure think they're important. If the media gave them the coverage they ACTUALLY deserved, nobody would give a rat's rump.
A bunch of religious lunatics? That's enough to scare most people. Although Romney being the slime ball that he is has probably got some other reason.