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GOP hopefuls fight for social conservative support in Iowa
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum went on the attack at an Iowa social conservative event Saturday evening, each trying to convince the crowd they have the strongest stance against abortion and same-sex marriage.
The three – along with Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul – spoke to about 1,000 people at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s 11th annual fall banquet in Des Moines. Tickets were $55.
Santorum perhaps outdid everyone, recounting the story of his political battle for a “partial-birth abortion” ban in the U.S. Senate and his family’s personal battle to save their unborn child when doctors recommended an abortion.
“You’ve heard a lot of policy up here from a lot of people and the choice for you is whether the folks delivering this are authentic,” he said. “Can they be trusted? Are they people that stood up when they had the opportunity and did what was called to be done?”
Santorum also said candidates should be willing to fight at the state level to stop same-sex marriage, as he did in Iowa.
“You’ll hear most everybody say they support traditional marriage and they support a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage,” he said. “But you’ll also hear if you listen to debates, people say that while they may support a Constitutional amendment they don’t support getting involved in the states and making sure states don’t pass either through legislation or judicial fiat marriage different than one man, one woman. And that is all the difference.”
Perry also pushed hard for support from the evangelical electorate at the event, saying in order for America to maintain its moral authority abroad it must set a high moral standard at home.
“That starts with protecting our most innocent and vulnerable, unborn children,” he said. “Fifty million have died because America has not guaranteed the right to life expressly stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
Perry said he’s “taken an unwavering stand in defense of life,” and railed off a number of accomplishments in Texas: requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion; passing a prenatal protection act and informed consent law; requiring a sonogram before abortion; and defunding Planned Parenthood.
Perry also said his stance against abortion is “not a matter of campaign convenience, it is a core conviction,” and called for activist citizens to rally against activist judges.
“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life but government should stay out of that decision,” he said. “If that is your view you are not pro-life, you are pro-having your cake and eating it too.”
And Bachmann said she’s “watched the destruction that has come on our nation” since Obama took office and it’s time for a very different president.
“This is the year when social conservatives can have it all, because in my experience a social conservative is a fiscal conservative,” she said. “A social conservative is a national security conservative. We can have it all this year.”
Bachmann also attacked Obama for not taking a stronger stand against abortion, and promised she would support a Constitutional amendment to protect life from conception.
“He said that he personally does not believe in abortion,” Bachmann said. “But he also believes the government should not intervene when it comes to the issue of abortion.”
Cain, Gingrich and Paul took strong stands against abortion and same-sex marriage as well, but their rhetoric was not as fiery.
Cain didn’t focus on social issues during his remarks, but did say “life from conception, no abortions, no exceptions.”
He also promised to turn down any legislation that allowed for government funding of abortions, and said he’d work to strengthen laws that prevent abortion, get rid of activist judges and bureaucrats and defund Planned Parenthood.
On same-sex marriage, he said a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing traditional marriage is necessary.Gingrich said he would defund Planned Parenthood and devote those funds to adoption services. He also promised to sign an executive order ensuring that no doctor or nurse can be compelled to perform any activity against their will, and railed against activist judges.
“Most of our major crises in our culture are driven by radical judges who violate the American Constitution, violate American history and do things that are fundamentally destructive,” he said.
Paul said “the family is in serious trouble” but claimed changing laws won’t mean fewer divorces or children born out of wedlock. He said morality “has to come from our heart,” and instead hit on his familiar small-government theme.
“If a government gets too big the family is undermined,” Paul said. “If we resort to the government taking over family responsibilities, whether it’s education, medical care, whatever, then the family is diminished.”
But Paul also noted he supported the Defense of Marriage Act, and said as a doctor he understands life.
“I know when life begins, I know when I assume responsibility for two people because if I do harm to the fetus I can be sued,” Paul said. “So there’s no doubt about the morality or the legality of it.”