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December 14th, 2011

Live Blog: Huckabee Pro-Life Forum

Four presidential candidates speak take the stage tonight in Des Moines for a pro-life forum and the premiere of “The Gift of Life” movie. The event is hosted by 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee. It begins at 7 pm at Hoyt Sherman Place. is on the scene at Hoyt Sherman and will live blog the event. Each candidate is given five minutes to speak on pro-life issues. GOP hopefuls Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum will participate. Other speakers include The Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Jennifer Bowen, Citizens United President David Bossie, and WHO radio host Jan Mickelson.

The doors open at 5:30 and we will update the live blog throughout the evening. Hit ‘refresh’ often in your browser for the latest info.

5:27 pm – Well, the doors were not supposed to open until 5:30, but folks started pouring in around 5:00. The auditorium is already half full. They are expecting a crowd of 1,300 here tonight. There is not much time for the candidates to speak, but it will be interesting to see if any of them can make a true connection with this crowd.

“The Gift of Life” movie is produced by Citizens United. I have heard snippets of it, and it is powerful stuff. I am interested to see it. I will not live blog the movie, but will update the site frequently during the speeches. Less than three weeks out from the Iowa Caucus, this should be a very interesting night.

5:32 pm – The internet connection here is SLOW and spotty, so the live blog might not be updated as often as I would like. The problem will probably get worse when more media arrive.

5:43 pm – I have reconvened to the upstairs lobby for the time being, out of the theatre. They have the media set up in theatre seats. Not the most comfortable to work on a lap top. I was also running low on power, so I’m up here plugged into an outlet. The Des Moines PD are here, including my friend Sgt. Jim Butler. A good guy and great cop. He’s already threatened to toss me out if I cause any trouble. I might have to write some bad things about him… like the fact he looks like Chet Culver’s brother.

5:50 pm – Sgt. Butler tells me there are about a dozen protestors outside. Probably the Occupy idiots. I seriously hope they do not disrupt this event. That would not do their cause any good, but they do seem concerned with that anyway.

6:08 pm – This place is filling up. A few big wigs here. The Republican Party of Iowa is also holding their Christmas party at the headquarters, so a lot officials and the bigger Iowa names and officials are there first and likely to straggle over here later.

6:22 pm – Things will get underway in about half an hour. They are looping a handful of film previews on the big screen, and have been for the past two hours. One of them is a film produced by Newt Gingrich. Free publicity for the frontrunner.

6:25 pm – According to the program, following the pledge, opening prayer and speeches by Jenifer Bowen and BVP, the presidential candidates will speak in this order: Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, Santorum. Alphabetical. It seems like Santorum always goes last at these type of forums. Sometimes that hurts him, because people leave. No concerns about that tonight, because we still have the movie to watch, a speech from Huckabee and a performance by country music legend Larry Gatlin closes things out.

6:30 pm – Another Newt Gingrich movie promo playing on the big screen. This one about Reagan. It closed with brief words and video of Newt and Callista.

6:36 pm – The internet connection here keeps going in and out, so live blogging might be difficult. Either way, I’ll write it up as a live blog and post as best as I can.

6:38 pm – There are more than 60 media organizations here from around the country. I spotted Byron York from the Washington Examiner earlier.
6:40 pm – Another Newt movie promo on the big screen. LOL.

6:48 pm – We should be starting in just a couple of minutes. Huge crowd here. Almost every seat in the lower portion is filled. Lots of folks in the balcony too and people are still filing in.

6:50 pm – And here we go with the start of the program… The Stoelting sisters on the stage singing “In God We Trust”.

6:56 pm – Nice round of applause for the Sisters Stoelting. We’ve still got folks trickling in. Jan Mickelson is supposed to be on stage next, but we’ve got Dave Bossie from Citizens United on stage.

6:57 pm – Bossie keeps saying “We are so proud”. I feel like I’m listening to Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads.

7:00 pm – Early line of the night from Bossie: “No matter what you try to do in this world, you need a lawyer.” He’s thanking everyone who made tonight possible.

7:02 pm – We lost internet at Hoyt Sherman. Major logistical failure on the part of organizers, so I will write this like it’s a live blog and post later.

7:11 pm – We had the pledge, anthem and invocation. Pastor Jeff Mullen did the prayer, wearing a very loud red jacket and blue jeans. Interesting choice.

7:12 pm – Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Jenifer Bowen on the stage now.

7:13 pm – Bowen telling the story that she was the product of an unplanned pregnancy. Her parents chose life, and just celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary.

7:14 pm – Bowen says RU-486 abortions are more traumatic for women. They are left to deal with their dead babies alone.

7:16 pm – BVP on the stage now. “Well it’s four years later, I’m still involved in the Iowa Caucuses, and I think it’s high time that Governor Huckabee comes back to the state of Iowa.

7:17 pm – Vander Plaats says life is “really the cornerstone of all of our issues.”

7:18 pm – BVP tells joke about his family finding out about an unplanned pregnancy. His mom tells his sister, “Listen, we didn’t want Bob either.” LOL. Crowd loved it.

7:22 pm – BVP is talking about his son Lucas, who has special needs. Also refers to Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella, another special needs child. “Although Lucas and although Bella, might not look perfect, … but by embracing them… that is the perfection that God seeks.” (applause) Not an exact quote.

7:25 pm – Good speech from Vander Plaats. The candidates taking the stage now. Michele Bachmann is up first.

7:26 pm – Bachmann: “Of all the seasons, this is the season where we celebrate life… the life of our savior Jesus Christ.” Bachmann is preaching.

7:27 pm – “Isn’t life precious… As far as I am concerned, this is the seminal issue of our time, life….” (applause).  “This issue isn’t just a box that we check. It’s not a bone that we throw some way.”

7:28  pm – “As POTUS, pro-lifers will never again be told to stand against the wall. We will advance the cause of life in my administration…. The number one way.. is through the full-scale 100% repeal of ObamaCare… For the first time in the history of the U.S., we have taxpayer funded abortion.”

7:29 pm – Bachmann says Obama is the most pro-abortion president we have ever had, she would be the most pro-life president.

7:30 pm – “If he is re-elected… we know within a nano-second, Plan B (an abortificient) would be available on the grocery store aisles.”

7:31 pm – Bachmann: “Under my administration, Planned Parenthood will be 100% fully de-funded.” (big applause)

7:32 pm – “This is an organization that is in great deal of need of an audit…. This is a deal for me that’s not political… “

7:33 pm – Bachmann is talking about a miscarriage she had, at 12 weeks old. “That baby was perfect. I know without a shadow of a doubt, every baby that God creates is perfect… There is nothing that God creates that isn’t perfect…”

7:34 pm – “We can’t get this wrong in 2012. We have to choose wisely and we have to choose life.” Bachmann did really well here. A home run.

7:35 pm – Newt is up.

7:36 pm – That was about a 10 minute speech from Bachmann. I think they were supposed to be held to five minutes.

7:37 pm – Newt says the country is turning against Roe v. Wade and abortion. “It goes to the heart of what it means to be an American.”

7:38 pm – Newt: “Your rights come from God.. and they are unalienable… That means no one can take them… “

7:39 pm – Newt: “At its heart, this is the central, moral question of our lifetime….”

Gingrich says on his first day one of his first executive orders will be reinstate the Mexico policy: No U.S. money going to pay for an abortion anywhere in the world.

Second, Bush’s conscience policy. Also says legislation will go up on first day to defund Planned Parenthood and all the money will go to adoption services.

7:40 pm – Newt: “We can pass a bill that defines personhood as beginning as conception… That could once and for all fundamentally re-center this debate where it ought to be…”

7:41 pm – Newt: “This film is going to be a major step in the right direction… “

Wrapping up now. Decent speech. Well received. Not as good as Bachmann’s.

7:42 pm – Rick Perry up now. Opens with “Howdy”.  Telling jokes about the unseasonably warm weather.

7:43 pm – Perry praising Huckabee. Says they travelled to Iraq together.

7:44 pm – “We’re in troubling economic times… but conservatives and people of faith disengage from the great moral debates of our time at the expense of the moral fiber of our great nation. We cannot disengage from that great debate.”

7:45 pm – Perry: “America is nation founded on the principle that human life is sacred and it must be defended.”

7:46 pm – Perry is using notes for his speech. He usually does on the campaign trail.

7:47 pm – Perry: “This year, I was proud to fight for and sign a state budget that defunded Planned Parenthood.” (applause) “Since then, there have been 12 Planned Parenthood clinics that have shut down.” (more applause)  Says Obama administration says Texans have violated federal law. “If Washington, D.C. is looking for a fight, they found one.” (applause) “I’m not gonna back down from this fight as Governor and I’m not gonna back down as President.”

7:48 pm – Perry: “I will end lifetime appointments for federal judges who legislate from the bench.”

7:49 pm – “And I’ll stand with you as we work to pass a human life amendment to the Constitution….  The greatest victories in the cause for life are not going to be won in the halls of government. It’s going to be won in the hearts and minds of men.”

7:50 pm – Perry talking about how the “Gift of Life” movie can make a major impact in guiding women who have unplanned pregnancies. “Every life is precious. Every life is a precious gift from God. It is worthy of our protection and to all of you who join me in that effort, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and God bless you.” (long applause)

7:51 pm – Perry done now. Good speech. One of his best. Santorum up now. Catcalls from some in the audience.

7:52 pm – Santorum: “By the end of this week, I will have done 350 town hall meetings in the state of Iowa.” (applause)

7:53 pm – Santorum: “I want to thank the people of Iowa, you have been the most hospitable and nice…and tough.”

7:54 pm – “We’ll see come caucus day whether the issues that are important to the heart of America stick out.”

7:54 pm – “Faith, family, freedom and life… those are the foundational issues…”

7:55 pm – Santorum: “It is the bedrock that allows limited government… You get that the social issues are not the unique set aside issues. They are central to everything we do in America…”

7:56 pm – Santorum: “People call for a truce on the social issues. Think about that. (A baby starts crying loudly). “I agree,” Santorum jokes about the baby. (crowd laughs).

7:56 pm – Santorum : “People in our party call for a truce. It is a surrender, not a truce. Under a Santorum presidency, there would be no surrender.”

7:57 pm – “The reason they call me the social conservative candidate in the race is because I’ve been in the foxhole, on the frontlines, fighting this issues on a national scale… “

7:57 pm – Santorum: “I’m proud when they say I’m the social conservative candidate in this race… Unless we get the social and moral issues right, we’ll never get the economic issues right in this country.”

7:58 pm – Santorum is pumping up the “Gift of Life” movie. Says its important to tell this story. “This is a movement about one thing: love. This is about all of God’s children… “

8:00 pm – Says believing life begins at conception is like believing the sun rises. “Why would you believe something that’s a fact? It’s a fact. It’s a scientific fact.” (applause)

8:01 pm – Santorum: “You may think that we’re failing, because we see so much death.. but we’re not, .. because you’re being faithful. As Mother Teresa says, ‘God doesn’t call on us to be successful. He calls on us to be faithful.”

8:02 pm – Santorum now discussing his famous debate on the senate floor with Barbara Boxer about the partial birth abortion ban.

8:03 pm – He recites this story often on the trail. The crowd is appreciating it.

8:05 pm – The crowd is applauding about the conclusion of Santorum’s story. I’m not going to recount it here because I can’t do it justice. You need to hear it for yourself.

8:06 pm – “Go out and fight the fight. Be faithful… In your lifetime, you may not see what fruit, what seeds you planted.. “

8:07 pm – Santorum: “You want to send a message whether the issues you care about are still important, you know what to do.”

8:08 pm –About half the crowd is standing for Santorum as he exits. If I had to judge by audience reaction, I would say Santorum got the best response, with Bachmann a close second, then Perry, followed by Gingrich.

8:09 pm – Newt Gingrich has moved out into the audience to watch the film.

8:10 pm – Citizens United President David Bossie is discussing the film now. For those who might remember from the Family Leader Thanksgiving forum, when Gingrich was talking about a friend of the family whose son has dealt with my health issues, that was David Bossie’s son.

8:15 pm – Bossie: “There is no other person in the world I’d rather have to host this pro-life film than Mike Huckabee.”

8:16 pm – Huckabee takes the stage to a standing ovation. Says he’s never been to Iowa in December when it wasn’t covered in snow. Amen. Don’t jinx it, Mike.

8:17 pm – Huckabee: “This is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.”

8:18 pm – Huck: The way to change minds about the sanctity of life is not to break arms and legs, but to break hearts.

8:18 pm – Huckabee: “No one but God has the right to end that life prematurely or in any other way…”

8:19 pm – Huckabee says he wept the first time he viewed the film, even though he already knew what was going to be in it.

8:20 pm – Huckabee informing the crowd Larry Gatlin has plane troubles and couldn’t make it. Some groans from the crowd, who were looking forward to seeing the country legend.

8:20 pm – Huckabee: “My heartfelt and deep appreciation to the candidates for president who were here tonight and it speaks volumes that they were here. In fairness to the all the candidates, even the ones who did not come indicated their support for what we’re doing here tonight… I do want you take note that there were four candidates who cleared their schedule and make this a priority event… This is not an endorsement, but all the candidates that were here tonight have endorsed life.”  That should send a message to a lot of people.

8:21 pm – The film is starting now. I will give my thoughts on it after the screening.

8:34 pm – Internet is restored as some of the media left the theatre. But now, we have bats flying back in forth in front of the screen. No kidding.

9:21 pm – The Film is wrapping up now. Very, very powerful stuff. I highly recommend it. It tells some heartbreaking stories about life and the decisions some people have made.

9:22 pm – Overall, this was a great event for pro-lifers in Iowa. In terms of the presidential candidates, I think a few more minds were made up tonight. Santorum and Bachmann did extremely well. Rick Perry was good too. Gingrich wasn’t bad, but did not really stray from what he says in most of his stump speeches. Quite honestly, it would be very, very difficult for The Family Leader to endorse Gingrich over Bachmann or Santorum after this event.

Photo by Dave Davidson,

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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