Mike Pence @ Iowa F&F banquet

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is this evening’s keynote speaker for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition banquet.  It’s part of a reallignment of the old Christian Coalition.  The Iowa Christian Coalition renamed itself the Iowa Christian Alliance in 2006, and when Ralph Reed launched the national Faith & Freedom Coalition last year, the Iowa Christian Alliance allied itself with Reed’s group.

What follows is a live blog of the event.

Gopal Krishna is the master of ceremonies this evening and he joked with the crowd about the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, then Krishna offered a top ten list for immigrants, beginning with “speak English” and also including:  “If God offends you, we suggest you consider some other part of the world as your new home.”

Krishna introduced the statewide GOP candidates who are in the crowd, including GOP lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds (Terry Branstad is not here).

Third district congressional candidate Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, was allowed to speak to the crowd.  “You have probably turned on the TV and you’ve seen some personal attacks on me that have been taken out of context,” Zaun said. “…Congressman Boswell is a nice man…but I feel very passionate about what’s going on and it’s unfortunate about these ads and campaign.  I would challenge Congressman Boswell just one time, in one ad, just give us a solution.”

Zaun gave a very brief speech, mentioning what his living situation will be if he’s elected: “I’m going to get a sofa that folds up to a bed and live in my office.”

After Zaun, the MC introduced Jonathan Narcisse, an independent candidate for governor, to the crowd.  (Narcisse did not speak.)

Next up behind the mic: Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Christian Alliance/the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.  “I think there is an awakening in this country,” Sheffler said.

Scheffler, who is also Republican National Committeeman from Iowa, touted the Tea Party candidates in other states.  Then he touted Iowa’s senior senator, Chuck Grassley, along with the two Republicans in congress (Steve King & Tom Latham), calling them “phenomenal Republicans.”

Next, Scheffler seemed to be speaking to the tactics of another group, the Iowa Family Policy Center. “There’s a lot of people who like to have rallies up on the hill…but the bottom line is until we elect some men and woman who have some spine…nothing is ever going to change in Washington, D.C. or in Des Moines, Iowa,” Scheffler said.

Next up: Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition wunderkind, who is the head of the national Faith & Freedom Coalition.  “Are you ready to send a message?” Reed asked the crowd, who cheered and applauded.

Reed started by talking about the Tea Party movement, the election of governors in places like New Jersey & Virginia in 2009, and the health care reform law which Reed told the crowd “stinks to high heaven.”

Reed continued: “Come November 2 we’re going to speak so loud and so clear that even the liberal who wouldn’t listen…will hear our message…and we’re going to send them home where they belong.”

Reed told the crowd Obama’s job approval rating has fallen “further and faster” than any other president of the modern era.  Reed mentioned Obama’s 42 percent  job-approval rating in Iowa, as measured recently by The Des Moines Register. “What are these 42 percent thinking?  Have they not been following what we’ve been following?”

Reed got laughter for that, then applause for his declaration that the health care reform plan would be repealed by Republicans in 2011.

“We have built a national database of pre-qualified, pro-family, pro-life, fiscally-conservative voters that today numbers over seven million households and by the 2012 elections will number over 10 million households,” Reed said. “Right now, as we speak, in 10 senate races, in 12 governors races and in 56 congressional races all over America, we are going to every one of those pro-family households and we are contacting them an average of seven times.  And when you see a candidate that shares our values that’s up by two points or five points or seven points, it’s more and I’ll tell you why it’s more.  It’s more because they haven’t calculated what you and I are about to do.  We’re going to knock on doors. We’re going to ring door bells. e’re going to Facebook our friends.  We’re going to Tweet people. We’re going to make phone calls. We’re going to do whatever we have to do and we are going to turn out the biggest conservative vote in a mid-term election in American history.”

Reed went through the list of Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate, like the GOP nominee in Wisconsin who Reed told the crowd would beat Russ Feingold “like a drum.”  But Reed got the biggest burst of applause so far this evening with this declaration:  “Yes, Sharron Angle is going to defeat Harry Reid in the state of Nevada…I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.”

Reed cautioned against overconfidence: “You don’t do a victory dance of the 20 yard line.  You wait until you’re in the end zone.”

Reed said the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition would contact between 200,000 and 250,000 Iowa households in October, an effort Reed said would cost $300,000.

Reed said the group would be “dropping the first mail & phones in 12 days in this state.”

Next speaker: Congressman Tom Latham, followed by Congressman Steve King, who at 7:47 p.m. started talking about the next president who will be sworn in on January 20, 2013.  King apparently does not envision Sarah Palin as the next president, because King referred to the next president as a “he” rather than “he or she.”

At 7:54 p.m. Pence arrived behind the microphone, telling the crowd they had gathered “during the waning days of the Pelosi-led congress.”  The crowd applauded.

Pence got his adjectives out, calling Steve King “irascible” and Chuck Grassley “legendary” before talking, perhaps, about his own political aspirations.

“There’s an old saying that you never come to Iowa by accident,” Pence said, then he paused for effect. “Let me just say — with media in the room, I did come to Iowa with purpose.”  Pence said his purpose was to ask Iowans to elect Republicans Ben Lange, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Brad Zaun — those are the three Republicans challenging the three Democrats in Iowa’s five-member congressional delegation. “End the Pelosi-led congress once and for all,” Pence exorted the crowd.

Pence soon used a line very similar to one former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee uses.  “I’m a conservative, but I’m not in a bad mood about it.”  (Huckabee usually says he’s “not mad about.”)

Pence listed his work against some legislative initiatives during  the presidency of George W. Bush, including No Child Left Behind, the Wall Street bail-out and the prescription drug benefit for Medicare (of which Grassley was an architect).

“I knew if we were going to keep acting like big government liberals, the public would choose the professionals,” Pence said of those initiatives.  “…The American people walked away from us.”

Pence said he’d been asked if the GOP had learned its lesson. He mentioned the unanimous Republican opposition to legislation during the Obama administration, including the health care reform bill.  “I’m here to tell you Republicans are back in the fight and we’re back in the fight on the right and I promise you that,” Pence said.

Pence cautioned against exuberant optimism on the part of Republicans regarding the 2010 election. “There’s still a lot of time between now and election day,” he said. “MSNBC is predicting Republicans will win two congressional seats. FOX News Channel is predicting Republicans will win 435 seats on election day.”  The crowd laughed.

Pence next talked about foreign issues, concluding that portion of his speech with his voice raised as he made this declaration: “America stands with Israel.”  The crowd applauded.

Pence turned to domestic issues, including “ObamaCare” and the Bush-era tax cuts which are set to expire at the end of the year.

“Democrats in Washington decided to go home to work to save their jobs without doing anything to save the jobs of millions of Americans threatened by those higher taxes,” Pence said.

Pence paraphrased a well-used Reagan line about the difference between a recession and a depression, concluding with:  “A recovery is when Nancy Pelosi loses her job.”  The crowd applauded.

Next segment of the speech is about “family and organized religion.”

Pence offered a defense of “traditional marriage” (without mentioning that gay marriage is now legal in Iowa).

“You would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family would collapse,” Pence told the crowd.

He continued with a litany of issued he said Republicans must agree upon. “Let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad.”  The crowd applauded. “…Let’s stop funding research that destroys human embryos…and let’s deny all funding to Planned Parenthood of America.”  The crowd stood to applaud at this point, their only standing ovation during the speech (they gave one when he was introduced and when Pence concluded).

“We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence advised his fellow Republicans.  He said the party faithful must demand that “those who would lead the Republican Party stand for life, traditional marriage and religious liberty without apology.”

“…We know in our hearts that as a party and as a movement we are at our strongest when are united, when we are grounded in what matters most,” Pence said.

The crowd grew hushed when Pence talked about his father.

He quoted from Luke: “Not thy will, but thine be done.”  Some in the crowd responded: “Amen.”

Pence concluded, saying Republicans would win congress back “so help us God.”  Speech over at 8:20 p.m.

Krishna, the master of ceremonies, came back to the stage — and announced the Iowa score.  Iowa is ahead.  The crowd cheered.  Krishna did NOT announce the score of the Iowa State game.  (I’ll just tell those of you who read the blog that Iowa State is leading Texas Tech 24-17 in the third quarter.)

Now, Chuck Laudner — executive director of the Iowa for Freedom group that is involved in the judicial retention elections — is given a chance to speak.  “On November 2, you be the judge!” Laudner said in conclusion.

Krishna urged the crowd to vote “no” on gambling referendums as well.  There was a Benediction, and the event ended at 8:33 p.m.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.