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Huckabee, Vander Plaats attempt to thrust social issues back into national conversation
The effects of the Iowa judicial retention election were felt far beyond the Hawkeye State’s borders, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said while making a case for a new national emphasis on social issues. Speaking at a fundraiser for The Family Leader Sunday afternoon, the 2008 Iowa Caucuses winner drew a crowd of 1,500 supporters to proclaim a new day for the social conservative movement.
The Family Leader is a newly formed organization led the man who spearheaded the campaign to oust the three Supreme Court justices–Bob Vander Plaats. The new group combines the Iowa Family Policy Center, the IFPC PAC and the formerly federally funded program Marriage Matters. Huckabee, as the keynote speaker, said the U.S. is going through a “dad deficit,” where fathers are leaving families and making single mothers take care of children by themselves. This then leads to the increased need for federal money to prop up those households — $300 billion a year, he says.
“I don’t care how much we change the tax code and tax policy, we will never be able to get our economy righted because what has wronged it is not just an economic issue,” he said. “It is an issue that goes to the very heart of what the family leader is, like it or not.”
Huckabee called the judicial retention vote in Iowa possibly the most important election in the country in this last cycle. He praised the audience for their involvement in voting out the judges based on their 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
“I am here also today to congratulate the people of Iowa for their decision in what was a remarkable election, an election that resonated all across America,” Huckabee said. “And that is to say that the judicial branch is — as are all branches of government — subject to the ultimate bosses in a society like ours. The people.”
He also took issue with the notion that faith-based voters are looked down upon as intellectually inferior.
“Faith-based voters are sometimes smeared at, laughed at,” Huckabee, a former pastor, said. “I got used to it during the presidential debates. I would go to the debates and some of the candidates would get 16, 18, 20 minutes to talk. I’d get three or four. And when I’d finally get a question it would be, ‘Oh, let’s throw you a religious question.’ Somehow they overlooked the fact that I had governed a state longer than anyone on the stage for either the Democrats or the Republicans.”
After several speakers, Vander Plaats took the stage to fire up the crowd, proclaiming: “We the people are not going away.” His speech surrounded the judicial retention election and the future of The Family Leader.
He said on the day of the decision, he saw the “darkness” of the other side. Moving forward, he said the people in the room must “choose to be the greatest generation,” referring the name given to those who fought in World War II and survived the Great Depression. Greatness, he said, is a choice made through Christian actions.
While discussing the Varnum v. Brien same-sex marriage decision, Vander Plaats evoked the death of his father. He said that just a day after his father showed concern over the decision, he died from a stroke. Because of this, he said, the issue was “personal.”
Throughout the event, several speakers, including Huckabee, put a special emphasis on the role men can play in both strengthening the country and their families. Interestingly, men were also brought to the forefront when all supporting pastors “and their wives” were invited to the stage.
Chuck Hurley, the president of IFPC, said in his remarks that his organization could very well choose the next GOP nominee for president — saying the recent Iowa judicial retention election and Republican sweep in both the U.S. House and state legislatures across the country present an ideal opportunity to enact their policy initiatives. He listed several priorities for the new Iowa House this next session, including denying “unconstitutional” same-sex marriage certificates, more measures against abortions and more public funding of churches, families and communities. He also called for the remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled on behalf of same-sex marriage in Varnum v. Brien to resign in an orderly fashion.
Audience members took kind to the rallying cries of Huckabee, Vander Plaats and other speakers, erupting into loud applause at several points in the afternoon. Fitting with the event’s location — a Des Moines church– many in the crowd would yell, “Amen,” or “Praise God.”
Samona Yentes, of Clive said the judicial retention has had far reaching affects nationwide.
“Gov. Huckabee was right on. You can’t talk about economic issues without talking about social issues because social issues drive economic issues,” she said. “I’ve talked to a legislator in a different state who said that as people are advising them not to talk about the marriage issue, they’re saying, ‘Look at Iowa. If you let the people vote on the issue, they will vote out the judges.’ It was a very clear message.”
This is the fourth time since the 2008 Caucuses that Huckabee has been in Iowa. His appearance added some speculation as to whether he would run for president.