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May 12th, 2012

Thoughts and Observations from the IFFC Spring Kickoff

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition held its 12th Annual Spring Kickoff on Friday. The event was headlined by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul.

There were several storylines going on with this event. Obviously, the Paul campaign and its new ties to the Republican Party of Iowa has been heavily covered here on TIR over the past few weeks. Additionally, Iowa’s RNC national committeeman Steve Scheffler, the subject of a TIR article this week, is the leader of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Below are my thoughts on the group’s event:

The Speeches

Rand Paul: Overall, it was a very good speech by the Kentucky senator. It started with a few anecdotes, which Paul uses to great effect. Then he made some literary references to Dostoyevsky and “All Quiet on the Western Front”. I think he lost the crowd a little, but Paul definitely got them back quickly.

Rand Paul holds similar views to his dad, but sounds a lot less crazy when he says it. For instance, instead of talking about how he would want a nuclear weapon if he were Iranian, the younger Paul talked about how careful we must be before entering a war.

“I’m not naïve enough to think we can never have war, but I am conscious of the fact of the horrors of war,” Paul said. “I’m conscious of the fact that I think our country needs leaders that understand that and not leaders who think that war is a sports game, that you know, you’re for the New Orleans Saints, and that’s an all-out war on the field, so war is no big deal. War is a big deal. It should be the most important thing we ever vote on when we are in Congress. It should be done very deliberately, and very rarely, when everything else fails.”

Paul also stressed his social conservative credentials, talking a lot about his faith and the issue and life. He also encouraged people to get involved and touted the pro-life legislation he has pushed in the U.S. Senate.

“We’ve introduced the Life at Conception Act, the Pro-Life Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, I’m also co-sponsor of the Human Life Amendment,” Paul said. “I’ve also been trying to defund Planned Parenthood. Anybody hear for that?”

Paul also believes Republicans would be helped in tying defunding Planned Parenthood into a fiscal argument. As for gay marriage, Rand Paul has an interesting take on President Obama’s recent decision to embrace gay marriage.

“He said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer,” the Kentucky senator said.

Chuck Grassley: The premise of the senator’s speech was good. It was geared entirely on standing up against the attacks on Christianity from the left. But the delivery left a lot to be desired. Grassley has never been a great orator and he unfortunately stumbled through what could have been a very powerful message.

Steve King: The 5th District Congressman informed that crowd that incredibly, “religious artifacts”, like Bibles, had been banned from being brought into Walter Reed Hospital, which serves our brave soldiers and veterans. Thankfully, after King spoke out on the House floor against the outrageous and ridiculous rule, it was scrapped by 10 am the next morning.

King also blistered President Obama’s recent conversion to supporting gay marriage. “It’s an assault on our families. It’s an assault on our values. It is an assault on Christianity itself,” King said.

Ralph Reed: Pretty good speech by the national chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. By far, the most interesting part was when he talked about Mitt Romney defeating Barack Obama in November. The Ron Paul supporters in the crowd who still think he has a chance of winning the GOP nomination did not like those lines.

The Crowd

Around 300. While that might look like a decent number on paper, it certainly didn’t in the Point of Grace Church’s auditorium. It was less than half-full. A smaller venue would have been much more suitable. Where was this enormous Ron Paul army we keep hearing about? There were certainly some supporters in the crowd, but overall, disappointing.

When you factor in that the majority of attendees were SCC members, politicians and political staffers, the 300 figure is even less impressive.

A lot of SCC members, House and Senate members and political candidates were recognized. Who got the biggest crowd reaction of the night? Polk County sheriff candidate Dan Charleston.

The second biggest applause line of the night came when emcee Gopal Krishna said this about Al Ringgenberg: “He’s the one who is going to defeat the present senate majority president Senator Gronstal.”

Conflict of Interest

Longtime State Central Committee member, IFFC vice-president and event emcee Gopal Krishna, while introducing State Representative Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), reminded the crowd that Grassley faces an important election on June 5. Then he took it a step further. “If any one of you can do door knocking for him tomorrow, please come and talk to me,” Grishna said.

Grassley is locked in a huge primary battle against another sitting House representative, Annette Sweeney (R-Alden). Krishna’s words gave the appearance that he, IFFC, or both, were supporting Grassley in the primary. Especially when Grassley then opened his speech with, “Thank you, Gopal, and thank you IFFC for their continued support.”

Afterwards, both Krishna and IFFC President Steve Scheffler told me they were staying neutral in the primaries. Krishna said he has never taken sides in a primary and he made the plea for doorknockers because Grassley “asked me to”. It was a bad choice to comply with that request.

Which brings us to another important question. Why was Pat Grassley chosen to introduce Rand Paul, a man he had only met once? Why give him the coveted role when there were numerous luminaries in attendance?

The answer is pretty simple: Because he’s facing a very, very difficult primary, and someone *ahem* pulled some strings to make it look like Pat is supported by IFFC and the Paul folks. Smart move, politically, by the Grassleys. Dumb move by IFFC to let it happen.


This year’s IFFC Spring Kickoff faced a huge challenge trying to live up to last year’s, which featured five presidential candidates. The crowd was much smaller and there was a lot less energy in the room, which is understandable. Overall, the IFFC’s 12th Annual Spring Kickoff was good event, but not a great one.

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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