Cruz, Perry, other GOP hopefuls preach to the faithful at Iowa event
Top Republican Party hopefuls came like preachers at a revival to pitch themselves to evangelical voters as the best candidate to protect the nation from weakened morals from within and withering respect from without.
The nine speakers at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event on Saturday included toptier candidates who were united in their support of religious freedoms, an anti-abortion agenda and the belief that the nation needs a strong, new leader.
Many cited Scripture and tied their own religious beliefs to their willingness to engage in a presidential campaign. They targeted protection for religious rights and U.S. allies, especially Israel.
Social conservative voters are a large and powerful voting bloc in Republican caucuses in Iowa, and the candidates sought to connect with the more than 1,000 activists who turned out on a blustery night at Point of Grace Church.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas received a standing ovation at the outset and told the crowd that “in the past month we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level.”
He said Democratic Party mem- bers and the media reacted with “hysteria” to the Arkansas and Indiana efforts to pass religiousfreedom laws that critics said would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gays.
He cited how he fought as Texas solicitor-general to maintain the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol lawn and to protect religious monuments. Cruz, who said marriage should only be between one man and one woman, called on all Americans to “fall to our knees and pray” before Tuesday’s gay marriage arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In search of redemption in Iowa from his poor 2012 showing, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke of his personal journey and how God gave him a second chance.
After leaving the Air Force as a young man, he said, he felt lost until he turned to God.
“He wadded me up so there wasn’t much left and blew away all that chaff so there was only a little kernel left,” he said.
He said from there he knew he was meant for the ministry, which he discovered almost 20 years later as the governor of Texas.
“I just didn’t know how large a pulpit he was going to make for me,” Perry said.
He cited sweeping abortion restrictions passed during his 14-year tenure and a religiousliberty law passed in 1999.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, in one of the best-received speeches of the night, referenced how corporate boycotts and public pressure caused Indiana to rewrite its religious-freedom law. He said that the Louisiana Legislature is preparing a stronger version.
“They might as well save their breath, because corporate America is not going to bully the governor of Louisiana,” Jindal said. “The real discrimination is against Christian business owners.”