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April 16th, 2013

Thoughts and Observations From IFFC’s Spring Kickoff

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition held its annual spring kickoff on Monday. 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum was scheduled to be the featured speaker at the event, but could not attend due to an illness. Faith and Freedom Coalition National Chairman Ralph Reed extended his remarks to make up for Santorum’s absence.

Here are my thoughts, observations and video of some of the significant moments from the event:

Crowd: There were around 200 people in attendance. That included about two- dozen state legislators, all three of Iowa’s RNC officials, leaders of other social conservative groups in Iowa, such as Jenifer Bowen from Iowa Right to Life and Bob Vander Plaats from The Family Leader. First Congressional District candidate Rod Blum was on hand.

Food: Nothing out of the ordinary, but pretty good. There were meat and cheese sandwiches, a veggie tray, fruit salad, potato chips, an assortment of crackers, and a few different types of cookies.

Setting: Unusual. The decision to hold the event inside the DM Christian School gym was odd, to say the least. I don’t recall an event of this nature being held in a gym before. Not in the last few years, at least. I imagine they got the venue dirt cheap, or free.

However, hardwood bleachers are among the most uncomfortable seats known to man. Considering most of the attendees were 50+, and several were well past the retirement age, a venue with more comfortable seats would have been appreciated.

The chatter: There was plenty of time to mingle before the program started. Obviously, the terror attack in Boston was on a lot of people’s minds. Some attendees had not yet heard about it when they first showed up the event.

Also, many people are wondering about the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Everyone is waiting for Steve King to make his decision about whether or not he will run. Many people are feeling the same way I am. They think the longer he takes to make a decision, the less likely it becomes that King will run. So, if King doesn’t run, who will? More on that tomorrow…

Flow: The event was scheduled to run 5:30-7:30. However, people started arriving around 4:30. I’m not sure why, but the program did not begin until 6:45, so there was no way we were getting out of there by 7:30. In fact, the keynote address from Ralph Reed didn’t begin until 7:24. He spoke for over 35 minutes.

Most common refrain during speeches: Gopal Krishna, Steve Scheffler and Ralph Reed railed on “the establishment” frequently.

Santorum’s absence: I didn’t hear any complaints about Rick Santorum not being able to make it. I think everyone understood. Besides, it’s likely almost everyone in that room had attended a Santorum speech before, and likely will again.

Speeches: As usual, IFFC’s Gopal Krishna handled the emcee duties. He wasn’t as funny as usual. A Plan B joke elicited zero laughs.

Krishna asked the crowd to say “Yes” if they agreed with him on these five points. They complied:

  1. All candidates should support life to natural death.
  2. All candidates should support traditional marriage between one-man and one-woman.
  3. All candidates should support the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms.
  4. All candidates should forget all types of amnesty and support securing our borders.
  5. The establishment should not take us for granted, instead of giving us candidates who do not support our values.

IFFC President Steve Scheffler spoke about last weekend’s RNC meetings. He noted that it was a battle to convince the RNC they must continue to stand up for one-man, one-woman marriage. IFFC lobbyist Norm Pawlewski and Naomi Leinen from Voter ID Iowa also gave brief speeches.

Of course, the featured speakers were Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Ralph Reed.

Matt Schultz’ speech: This was one of the more fiery speeches I’ve seen from Schultz. It was quite a contrast from the one he delivered earlier in the day. Schultz talked about his favorite topic, Voter ID.

Key quotes:

“They say we’re about voter suppression. I want everyone to be able to vote, whose eligible to vote. This isn’t about keeping people from voting. This is about honesty and integrity.”

“They think that non-citizens should be able to vote. What planet are we living on?”

“Every Latin American country requires an ID to vote, but they call me a racist. You know when they start throwing these terms out and start calling you names, you know they don’t have anything to stand on.”

“There are a whole lot of issues that we can about: abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about Voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat.”

“They think that they can beat me. They’ve got a political hack who is not even from Iowa. He’s from Chicago, who decided early he wanted to run for secretary of state. He’s got a lot of money because he comes from a wealthy family and he’s already had three D.C. fundraisers with George Soros.”

Ralph Reed’s speech: The Faith and Freedom Coalition leader apparently believed he needed to speak longer to make up for Rick Santorum’s absence. It was a good speech, but people were fidgeting in their uncomfortable bleacher seats throughout. As soon as Reed was done, several people immediately headed for the exits. This was before they did the fundraising pitch, as well as the benediction.

Key quotes:

“I know that facts are sometimes stubborn things, but Columbine took place under the previous assault weapons ban. And the Sandy Hook killings took place under the strictest state-based assault weapons ban in the country.”

“These bombs that exploded in Boston today, at one of our great national pageants were against the law. You can pass all the laws you want. If you have corrupted hearts, you’re not going to have the kind of society you want to live in.”

“As a lifelong Republican, if the Republican Party walks away or retreats or sends any kind of equivocation in its support for innocent human life, the traditional family or the sacred union of marriage, they will lose the votes of tens of millions of evangelicals and faithful Catholics and other men and woman of faith, they will consign themselves to permanent minority status and they will richly deserve it.”

Overall: I thought it was a pretty good event, considering the circumstances. IFFC did a good job making due with the last minute cancellation. In the future, I would advise a better venue and a stricter adherence to the schedule, however.

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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