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April 16th, 2013
 

Replacing Santorum, Schultz Delivers Painful Story of Losing a Child

As best as he could recall, it was the first public speech in four years Matt Schultz had given without discussing the merits of Voter ID. Iowa’s secretary of state was a last minute fill-in at the Des Moines fundraiser for the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum was scheduled to deliver the keynote address, but was hospitalized over the weekend due to a gastrointestinal illness.

Organizers found out about Santorum’s inability to travel to Iowa Sunday evening. Early the next morning, Matt Schultz agreed to replace him at the event. Schultz believed his standard stump speech would not be sufficient for an event of this nature. The institute is based on the belief that every life is precious.

“This is a wonderful organization,” Schultz said. “They’re working to cure ailments and disease and improve the quality of life of all mankind, while at the same time, protecting and respecting life by using adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cell research.”

In hindsight, organizers could not have found a better replacement for Santorum. Matt Schultz was Iowa’s only statewide or federal official to endorse a candidate for the 2012 Iowa Caucus. He chose Rick Santorum when the former Pennsylvania senator was still lagging way behind in the polls.

Santorum finally gained momentum in the presidential race by delivering powerful, personal stories. Rick Santorum is now the national spokesman for the institute’s fundraising arm, Give Cures.

Knowing that this organization is very important to his friend, a man Matt Schultz risked significant political capital for in December 2011, the secretary of state came up with a very powerful, personal story of his own. Within an hour of agreeing to be a last minute replacement at the event, Matt Schultz had prepared a very Santorumesque speech.

Schultz informed that audience that they just welcomed their fifth child into the family about a week ago. They now have “four boys and a princess,” he joked. Then Schultz got very serious and told the audience a very personal story about the pain of losing a child.

Back in 2002, Schultz’ wife was pregnant with their third child. On December 26, they went to the hospital for an ultrasound and soon received tragic news.

“The specialist came in and broke us the news and told us that in his experience, the images showed that our baby had some abnormalities and would likely pass away within a week,” Schultz somberly recalled. “This was devastating for my wife and I, so we obviously shed many tears in the office.”

The doctor told them there was a chance the baby would survive, but it was unlikely, and the child would live with abnormalities. Matt Schultz and his wife spent the next week praying for the baby to pull through. They also prayed for the strength to raise a child with severe disabilities.

“At the end of all our prayers, we always told God that ‘His will be done.’ Whatever he chose he would be OK with, but we desired to have this baby,” Schultz said.

After one week, they returned to the hospital and received the tragic news: Their baby had died in the womb. The next day, doctors induced labor.

“I remember holding him in my hand and seeing him. Just about five months old,” Schultz said, his voice quivering. “It was quite an experience for me to see his body and to see that this was a little person.”

Doctors informed Schultz and his wife that the hospital would cremate the baby for them, if they wished.

“We said no. This is our baby and we chose to have a funeral for him and buried him in Council Bluffs,” Schultz said. “I tell you this story because it had a real impact on me and had a real impact on my perspective on life. How important life is. It truly is an unalienable right that we all have and a gift given to use from God.”

Matt Schultz spent the next several seconds trying to hold back tears. Finally, Iowa’s secretary of state composed himself and continued with his very personal story.

“At the beginning of my speech I said I had five children, but for me really, I have six children. And it was God’s will to take that child and he has a different purpose for him.”

Matt Schultz wrapped up his speech by praising the organization and the work it does. The 60 pro-life activists, Republican Party officials and legislators in attendance were moved by Schultz’ speech. The pinch-hitter hit a home run.

“We were concerned with, did he have enough time to learn the topic well enough to articulate it, but he came there and not only did he do the great job in articulating it, but he framed it in his way that was personal to him,” said Gives Cures director Kim Lehman. “In every respect, it was a win-win for us.”


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 TheIowaRepublican.com.




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