Welcome to Iowa Panderfest 2015

A bunch of prospective Republican presidential candidates gathered on Saturday at a megachurch in Iowa to pander to the Christian right base. They employed a varied set of strategies to do so. Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz went for the “they’re going to throw us into concentration camps” message:

“The single greatest threat to all of our freedoms is the threat to your religious liberty,” Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, told the crowd in a speech that at times sounded like a church sermon. “Let me be clear tonight: I’m not backing off because what I’m saying is true. We are criminalizing Christianity in this country.”

That theme was predictably popular and reverberated throughout a five-hour-long summit hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition that attracted more than 1,200 Republicans and churchgoers. The event kicked off with a prayer calling on the Lord to “restore this country through godly leadership.”

“You know, in the past month we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who announced his White House bid last month. He was also met with repeated bursts of applause.

Rubio and Jindal went for the anti-gay marriage approach:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — who earlier this month told reporters that he would attend a loved one’s same-sex wedding despite his opposition to gay marriage — stressed his support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“In this whole debate about the definition of marriage, I remind everyone that marriage as an institution existed before even government itself — that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed before our laws existed,” Rubio said, one of his most enthusiastic applause lines that night.

Backstage, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he too would attend a same-sex wedding but held firm to the traditional definition.

And Walker and Perry opted for the “I was a poor sinner before the lord saved me” gambit:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker brought along his favorite devotional and read a passage, then talked about how prayer helped him get through a nasty recall election. Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, spoke about losing his faith despite his Methodist upbringing and then finding it again after he left the Air Force.

“I was lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life. And God helped me,” Perry said. “And I realized at that moment I was going to spend the rest of my life doing God’s work.”

And Carly Fiorina delivered this baffling bit of ignorance:

While several politicians criticized President Obama for negotiating with Iran, former corporate chief executive Carly Fiorina said that such talks should immediately end until Iran agrees to “full and unfettered inspections.”

Uh, Carly…the deal includes 24/7 access not only to all Iranian nuclear facilities but to their uranium mines and to any factories that could make parts for centrifuges. If that isn’t “full and unfettered inspections,” what more would you suggest? What else is even possible? I won’t be waiting for an answer, of course.

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  • eric

    What????? Its Iowa, and nobody went for “the farmers are the backbone of our nation”??? Wow, I think it really says something about the GOP base’s animus towards gays and women (on the coverage for birth control issue) that their US presidential candidates go to Iowa and don’t talk about supporting corn subsidies.

  • raven

    Strangely enough, the last national election, the GOP had almost the same set of candidates. A bunch of christofascist clones. Huckabee, Perry, Bachmann, Caine, Satanorum, etc..

    So they chose an outsider. A nonxian Mormon Reptilian shapeshifting oligarch. Romney.

    Will it happen again? The only ones that can pretend to be normal are Jeb Bush and Rubio. And Jeb Bush has a huge amount of baggage, being related to George Bush.

    (I don’t even count Carly Fiorina. She has always been clueless.)

  • llewelly

    They know their followers are unlikely to learn anything about the agreement. So why should they?

  • Die Anyway

    > “they’re going to throw us into concentration camps”

    I’ll volunteer to help build them. Maybe we could call it Habitat For Inhumanity.

  • llewelly

    raven:

    So they chose an outsider. A nonxian Mormon Reptilian shapeshifting oligarch. Romney.

    Mormons are not nearly as different from other conservative Christians as conservative Christians want each other to believe. Most of the differences they go on about are exaggerated, or even fabricated, and have little real impact on the everyday behavior of Mormons. Besides, Mormons teach that Jesus came to America! What could be better than American Jesus?

    Anyway, no Mormons are doing well in the running this time around, but in any case, the extreme ends of the Republican party have grown so far apart, and the rank and file have such different interests from leadership, that no non-shapeshifter has any hope of winning the primaries. That’s why if you dig into the campaign promises Scott and Jeb and the others are making, there is so much contradictory crap. They know the only way to win is to work the etch-a-sketch as hard as possible.

  • caseloweraz

    I wonder what it is about negotiation that is so hard for ex-CEO Fiorina to understand. “We should stop negotiating with them until they agree to all our demands.” What? Is that how it went down with Compaq?

  • ‘smee

    I saw the Huckabee quote, and for a moment I was giddy with excitement: “Let me be clear tonight: I’m not backing off because what I’m saying is true. We are criminalizing Christianity in this country.

    For a minute, there, I thought it might be a policy platform I could rally behind!

  • theguy

    “’The single greatest threat to all of our freedoms is the threat to your religious liberty,’ Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, told the crowd”

    This coming from the guy who said he wanted to force people (at gunpoint!) to listen to Barton.

  • John Pieret

    I remind everyone that marriage as an institution existed before even government itself

    Well, if you go back to that time (no government tax breaks, no automatic inheritance, no right to make decisions for an incapacitated spouse and about 1,000 rights, privileges and benefits the government currently bestows on those who are married) then you and gay couples would have equal (i.e. none) protection under the law and the issue would be pretty moot. I bet you won’t advocate that!

  • grumpyoldfart

    Democrats won’t always win. One day you will have a Christian Fundamentalist Creationist Republican president.

    (Never mind, it probably won’t take any more than a couple of generations to recover from the experience.)

  • dan4

    @8 You actually believe Huckabee was being literal with that “at gunpoint” part of his statement about listening to Barton? Seriously?

  • StevoR

    @10. grumpyoldfart : Don’t Bush II, arguably even Reagun and more arguably but wasn’t he an evangelical or something Carter count already?

    I think the democratic party is well set up to win this election and many future ones I don’t think these Republican teablaggard extremists are very electable at all and I certainly expect – as well hope to see Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party winning this US presidential election and almost certainly the next one too. I think and hope this more the extinction scream of this sort of “konservative” kraziness than anything likely to lead to its revival.