Iowa evangelical critical of Romney planned no-show
October 22nd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
7 years ago

Iowa evangelical critical of Romney planned no-show

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."

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (101 Responses)

    Stay away Mittens, the devil is in the mix.

    October 22, 2011 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  2. not a fan

    Not a Romney fan, however in this situation, think he is making the correct choice. Scheffler comes across as arrogant, self imposing and is either upset that Romney is saying No because he wants to meet him, show Iowa he can harass and embarrass the leading candidate, or is just upset because he is not used to someone standing their ground to him, in any case Romney is correct to say NO.

    October 22, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |

    He knows that Iowa is rube teabagger land. They want his head.

    October 22, 2011 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  4. taylor

    and every damn one of them, that is getting tax free compensation, should be forced to
    start paying tax's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2011 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  5. Dian

    Perhaps he is growing tired of all the pandering. Pandering can be exhausting.

    October 22, 2011 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  6. John Sharp

    I despise Romney but even so, it is silly for him to go to such an obvious set up. This nut job saying Iowa is a very important swing state is so transparent. He is promoting his "event" and the number one person has decided not to go. So his very big "event" is no longer very "big" at all. And he is upset about it.
    To use the word "Iowa" and "very important" in the same sentence is hilarious. And yet he does it with such ease.

    October 22, 2011 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  7. restofthecountry

    Dear Iowa,
    Get over yourself. You do not choose the next president. We all have a say in this process.

    Rest of the Country

    Does anyone else think this self righteous posturing by states trying to be relevant in the primaries is broken?

    October 22, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  8. Ron

    Romney knows that if he loses the religious right early-on in the process, the image will pollute his chances of winning the nomination. Nothing mystical about it. He's taking a calculated risk that it is better to continue moving without allowing people to vote "on his religion". If he never gets into one of these, he never has to defend the headline "Evangelicals Say 'No' to Romney".

    October 22, 2011 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  9. jimatmadison

    Being seen with televangelicals is threatening to the political career of someone who wants to be president of the UNITED States.

    These folks are the most vicious, divisive creatures in the political game (where they shouldn't be playing if they want to keep their tax exempt status).

    October 22, 2011 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. EdSantaFe

    SHUT UP. Sick to death of the religious fanatics.

    October 22, 2011 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. Robin Bray

    Jesus was a no show.

    October 22, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  12. HenryB

    OK, Mitt, on command, bow. Bow!
    This man is the most opportunistic people I have every seen. Not a bone of sincerity in his body. Everything is calculated. No different from other politicians but just more in your face.

    October 22, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  13. m

    Get religion out of politics before we end up as a theocracy.

    October 22, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. ed

    He is afraid of Romnicare.

    October 22, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. Tom

    Scheffler warns this, sheffler warns that. A"christian" warning, now that's a friendly invite. Although I am an Obama supporter, I think Romney is doing the right thing.

    October 22, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    Waste of time showing up, Romney could never pass the conservative religious purity test.

    October 22, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. diridi

    Listen, these Evangelical and religions are Cult...Jeffrey, Texas dude...

    October 22, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  18. Rich

    So much for separation of church and state.What the heck difference does it make if you are a born again like Perry & W if you can't string a full sentence together? The born agains want to cut education so they get more members and also widen the tea party base.........

    October 22, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. ST

    Coward! What is he afraid of? Your religion is your religion, nothing to worry about. Stand to your beliefs and let others stand to theirs.

    October 22, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  20. AllenS

    Oh no, he's missing out on an assembly that's half the size of my highschool! For shame! ...Maybe he's not coming because Sheffler obviously wanted to tear him a new one from the get-go. Way to turn the other cheek there, Sheff. Besides, if the voters are swayed enough to not vote for someone because he didn't show up to an unofficial debate, those voters will be distracted by bright lights and loud sounds long before it's time to vote.

    October 22, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Michael

    What we really need is ONE national primary election for each party. The current system of state-by-state political theater costs way too much, slants the races in favor of conservatives who do well in the early conservative states, and gives way undue importance to radical fringe groups like this bully's Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. One national primary would also have the effect of rendering unemployed a large group of political operatives and strategists, which could only be a good thing.

    October 22, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Nothing new here

    Well, look, I don't blame Romney for bowing out of this forum – what does this Steve Scheffler expect? This is just a "no-win" situation with these Evangelicals, exp. for Romney. He is dang-if-he-does, danged-if-he-doesn't. And this Steve Scheffler and his needling, disgraceful.

    October 22, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Nothing new here

    Why is the state of Iowa given all this importance? Excuse me, but I thought that there were 50 states in this union?? Unreal. The state of Iowa is no more important than any other state. Some of us, in other states, vote, AND pay taxes, thank you.

    October 22, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  24. mike

    hes afraid of them imagine him with world leaders he doesnt have the guts they will say not much of a leader in my estimation..Iran would eat him up for breakfast..what a milk toast!

    October 22, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. unretired05

    Important swing state? 7 electoral votes.

    October 22, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
1 2 3 4 5