Candidates Hold Conversation Around Family Leader Table

Left to Right: Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Hermain Cain and Newt Gingrich along with moderator Frank Luntz at Saturdays Thanksgiving Family Forum (photo by Don Hubbard)

Des Moines, Iowa – Six of the major presidential candidates made a stop to the Family Leaders Thanksgiving Family Forum Saturday evening. A glaring absence from much of Iowa and these presidential candidate gatherings around Iowa has been Mitt Romney.

The sanctuary of First Federated Church in Des Moines played host to nearly 3,000 people, some who drove 300 miles or more to attend the event, which was moderated by Frank Luntz.

Luntz addressed the crowd, and asked if there was anyone that would be there to protest. If so, he would give that group some time at the beginning of the forum to express their views. One Occupy Wall Street protestor came forward to express his feelings. He asked the protestor as he walked towards the mic to express himself if the agreed terms were fair a few times with no response from the Occupy Wall Street protestor.

Luntz was less a moderator and more like the curious relative at the Thanksgiving Table who wanted to know more about each person’s lives during the past year. “I want you to understand what’s in these people’s hearts,” Luntz said during his initial talk with the crowd.

After introductions, one of the most interesting things I have seen at a presidential forum or debate was watching Michele Bachmann pour water for each of the other candidates seated at the table.

The forum was a much more intimate meeting between the candidates that in nearly all previous gatherings. Frank Luntz compared himself to “Dr. Phil” at one point in the evening as the emotions of the candidates came to light.

Just like many in the Christian faith, those differences were visible among the answers given by candidates, and also something rare, compassion to their fellow candidate when heartfelt tears were expressed. One of those moments occurred when Cain described those moments after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. When Cain described the conversation with his wife, she told him “We can do this,” in regard to fighting his cancer.

Rick Santorum gave touching story about his three and a half year old daughter Bree (5 months old then) and his feelings about her and his trying to distance himself from the pain involved with her illness (Edwards syndrome).

The biggest reason for Saturday’s forum was to answer questions that would focus on issues Iowa’s evangelical Christians have about the candidates. The forum didn’t feature questions of foreign policy, economics, “gotcha” moments, but more of a conversation that resembled a conversation that happens at many coffee shops, restaurants, and church basements across the state, and for that matter across the nation.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was one of the first to open up in this format when she described how she came to Christ as a 16 year old, when moderator Luntz asked about the words “So help me God” at the end of the Presidential Oath of Fffice. “Well it reminds me that it was George Washington that added those last four words ‘so help me god,’ and after he added those four words he reached down and he kissed the bible, and I think it’s because if there was any American who had seen the hand of God rising up this nation, it was George Washington.”

Bachmann described how at the age of 16 she gave her life to the lord. “That’s when I got on my knees, admitted I was a sinner, and gave my heart to Jesus Christ and I recognize my actions just aren’t of this world. I’ll have to answer to God in the next world”

“When you take that oath, your answerable to God,” Bachmann said.

Alice Stewart, Communications Director for Michele Bachmann, tweeted later clarifying the Congresswoman’s comment “HIstorian David McCullough wrote that Washington added “so help me god.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry added his thoughts to the question about the oath. “So help me God’ is almost a plea. It’s not part of the oath. I look at it as a plea. I’ve been driven to my knees multiple times as the Governor of the State of Texas in making decisions that are life and death. They have a huge impact on peoples lives. The idea of walking into that without God almighty holding me up.”

Luntz asked Speaker Gingrich about his writings on the loss of values in America, and if just one value could be brought back, what would it be.

Gingrich explained, “A country which has been now since 1963 relentlessly in the courts driving God out of public life shouldn’t be surprised at all the problems we have because we in fact have attempted to create a secular country.”

“Our founding document, which is the base of our government says we are endowed by our creator and therefore we have responsibilities to that creator and therefore we have responsibilities as citizens to that creator and we simply have a system that reasserts that and educates that and tries to live up to that we will be a dramatically better country,”the former Speaker said on the values in America.

Congressman Ron Paul stuck with his consistent libertarian message as being a marked difference between himself and the others. “The goal of government isn’t to mold society and mold people, the role of government is to preserve liberty so we as individuals assume the responsibility in our fields.” Paul continued on by saying, “Our values should come from our family and from our church. Once we say well liberals are doing this because they want this economic interference.”

“You can do it on both sides,” Paul said speaking about how conservative and liberals can overreach themselves.

Luntz asked the candidates what the difference was between the group of predominant Christian base at the forum and the groups at other events. Businessman Herman Cain got a vigorous round of applause for his comments. “What we have seen is a wider gap between people of faith and people of non-faith. Those of us who are people of faith and strong faith have allowed the non-faith element to intimidate us into not fighting back. I believe we’ve been to passive.” Luntz asked Cain how you fight back. “The way you fight back is not be afraid to express your faith in any setting, rather than worry about the political correctness police.”

Speaker Gingrich might have garnered the most response from the crowd with his comments about the Occupy Wall Street movement, “and for a brief moment describe Occupy Wall Street. All the Occupy movements start with the premise that we all owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn’t pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn’t pay for, to beg for food from places they don’t want to pay for, to instruct those who are going to work to paying their taxes to sustain the bathrooms and sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain that they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything. Now, that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them, ‘Go get a job, right after you take a bath.’

It’s yet to be seen who will gain the valued endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats. There were some candidates who have definitely shown bright at this format, while the differences of others came out.

Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum walked away with a good portion of the political prize, but Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was able to show why she has been a steady favorite with many Evangelical Christians since her candidacy began.

Luntz was good not to favor one candidate over another as Ron Paul was given more than  89 seconds out of an hour to talk this time.

The entire event was available on

Watch live streaming video from thanksgivingfamilyforum at
Posted by on Nov 20 2011. Filed under Editorial, Local News, National News, Politics, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

2 Comments for “Candidates Hold Conversation Around Family Leader Table”

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