Prospective GOP candidates to face voters in Iowa forum
March 7th, 2011
02:28 PM ET
12 years ago

Prospective GOP candidates to face voters in Iowa forum

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - In the first major event in Iowa featuring a series of potential candidates, five men likely to seek the GOP presidential nomination will speak Monday night at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's Spring Kick Off.

The coalition is one of the major political interest groups in the state.

"Undoubtedly it will be the kickoff of the campaigning for the Iowa caucuses," event organizer Steve Scheffler told CNN.

The first-in-the-nation caucus is tentatively scheduled for February 2012.

At the Point of Grace Church just outside Des Moines, radio personality and former pizza mogul Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will have ten minutes to address the audience and provide a glimpse into their potential White House campaigns. The event will not include a question and answer session.

Monday's trip to the state marks Gingrich's third visit this year but the first since indicating last week he is now in an exploratory phase about whether he will mount a run for the nomination.

A spokesman for the former House Speaker said he is "listening and learning" during the day Monday, but would not say who he is meeting with other than attending the evening forum.

Pawlenty and Santorum have made frequent visits to the state meeting with likely caucus attendees and giving speeches outlining their priorities. And both have talked about their opposition to same sex marriage – a hot button issue in Iowa.

Scheffler said he expects the forum participants "to talk a little about social and fiscal issues – they go hand in hand."

Social conservative leaders say while abortion and same sex marriage are important, erasing the debt and deficit are also key issues for their voters.

Because of the recession and economic concerns, it is likely those social issues won't play as predominant a role as they have previously.

Over 60 percent of GOP caucus goers in 2008 identified themselves as evangelical Christians – making them a key constituency for any candidate to succeed in the state.

"These voters are not one issue voters," Scheffler said.

Event organizers expect a large audience of about 800.

Asked if he was upset that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 caucuses, are not attending Scheffler said "I am not upset. They should be here."

Some activists in the state have been unhappy with the slow pace of the election season so far and hope this event marks an uptick in activity.

Several of those attending the forum told CNN they were coming to start educating themselves about the candidates and their positions.

"We want to start the process to figure out who we want to vote for," Gail DeJong said. "We are familiar with some of them but not all of them."

"We feel as Iowans we play an important role so we feel we should be educated," Bryan DeJong said. The DeJongs have participated in caucuses before.

"I want to hear what they have all got to say. How they are going to solve the problems," Verul Olofson said.

Olofson and others said there were not key issues at this time, although some attendees did mention the nation's growing debt as an important concern.

Follow Kevin Bohn on Twitter: @kevinbohncnn

Filed under: 2012 • Buddy Roemer • Herman Cain • Iowa • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Former Republican, now an Independent

    This is shaping up to be the largest gathering of anti-American crooks in recent history.

    March 7, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. GOP = Greed Over People

    That photo sure looks like a police line-up.

    March 7, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    Faith and Freedom

    The GOBP nned to stop using faith as a political tool. The most adulterous man, Newt Gingrinch, has the audacity to speak at a faith based forum. That's an oxymoron.

    March 7, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. T'sah from Virginia

    Wow – who's the African American?? Actually, he looks the most SANE out of all of them!!!

    March 7, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    it really is disgusting, to see any state, make politicians suck up to them.

    It makes Iowa look as disgusting as possible. In my view, the country needs to tell Iowa where to go, with their heavy handedness.

    March 7, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Edward

    Who is going to vote for this clowns?????Where the jobs GOP////
    All a bunch of hipocrites and liers.

    March 7, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    They should all show up at once, climbing out of a little clown car!

    March 7, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. republicansRliars

    While I don't care for Obama, as an Independent, none of these guys has a chance to win. Newtered is especially disgusting. Pawlenty killed 60 people on the I-35 bridge by not funding infrastructure and backfilled his budget til the next governor HAD to raise taxes (NOTE: There are NO term limiits on a MN governor) How disgusting is Pawlenty! Geez.

    March 7, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Sebastian

    The GOP is hungry for someone with a brain that can think up real solutions and then stand toe to toe with President Obama in a debate. The only one they think has the gravitas is Newt Gingrich but with a bit of probing by the President, the looneyness of Gingrich is easily revealed.

    Newt also has a morals and ethics problem given his adultry to his wive(s), his divorces, and his record setting fines as Speaker of the House.

    March 7, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Marge

    Did they rent a football field. For all the republicans with that big old ego who are saying they are going to run they'll need one.

    March 7, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    So many song titles come to mind when I see this 'snapshot' of potential GObP candidates:
    Send In The Clowns
    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (LSD)
    Tear The Roof Off Tha Motha'
    ...Yes, I know: What do these songs have to do with the candidates? Well, with the the possible exception of the first two, absolutely nothing, they are as irrelevant as the candidates themselves.

    March 7, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Where's Babar the Elephant and the Trumpster?
    I guess between Babar's girth and the Donald's ego it would've been difficult to fit someone else in the shot.

    March 7, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Sam the butcher

    Weak field for starters, VERY weak. Another problem is that it is hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. It should be held by the Iowa Freedom from Faith coalition. Let's keep that separation of church and state. Check that, the R's can continue down that path and we'll have a nice replay of 2008. Poor Repubs don't realize that their brand is not sustainable as more youth, women, and minorities are much more in tune with Democrat ideals and principles. oh well, won't be shedding any tears when the elephant party is gonzo.

    March 7, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Brandon

    Ron Paul is here in Iowa today. Why aren't you mentioning him?

    March 7, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. thomas

    Donald Trump / Joe Scarborough / 2012

    March 7, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. diridi

    they stoop so low...they put one black too....wait and see the drama...enjoy.....what an idiotic GOP is....

    March 7, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |