Candidates prompted: “bare your soul”

Moderator Frank Luntz prompted the six presidential candidates on the stage to “bare your soul” tonight.  Herman Cain volunteered to go first, and struggled to control his emotions as he talked about the “most challenging” experience of his life, when he “had to dig deep.”  It was when he was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Cain said as he and his wife left the surgeon’s office after the diagnosis was delivered, he said to his wife: “I can do this.”

Cain, his voice breaking, said his wife had replied: “We can do this.”

Rick Perry, who had patted Cain on the shoulder a couple of times through the telling of this story,  responded, “Amen.” 

Perry talked about his roots in Paint Creek, Texas, about being “too busy for God” when he was a young man.  “I couldn’t understand why I was not happy…what it was that was missing out of my life…In every person’s life, in every person’s soul there is a hole that can only be filled by Jesus Christ.  As a 27-year-old young man,that’s when I truly gave my life to Christ and it has made every day — every day — worth living…The great news for us Christians is we’ve been forgiven for them.  Amen.”

Paul talked about his going through medical school as a “really astounding” because patients came to his “in trust” for his care. “There’s nothing more marvelous in medicine than in sharing new life,” Dr. Paul, OB/GYN said.

Bachmann talked about her parents divorce and how that had changed her childhood, about raising foster child and she concluded with a statement: “This election is bigger than Republican, Democrat and Independent.  This is going to be the whole country coming together to save America and that’s what I’m excited about.”

Santorum cried as he talked about the health problems his daughter, Bella, has suffered and the moment — when she was five months old — when he admitted his own failing as a father.  “I decided the best thing I could do was to treat her differently, to not love her, because it wouldn’t hurt as much if I lost her,” he said, crying.  “I remember holding that finger, looking at her and realizing what I’d done.  I had been exactly what I had said that I’d fought against…I had seen her as less of a person because of her disability. I prayed at that moment, ‘Please, please let her live.’…She made it.”

Gingrich talked about the child of a friend who was born with a very rare heart problem and after surgery to correct the defect doctors discovered brain tumors.  For the next six years the child had “a shunt in the back of his head,” according to Gingrich, who said that child is now a grown man with “a good heart, a good brain…and you look at that and say, ‘Do I want some bureaucracy deciding that on a percentage basis this (surgery after surgery after surgery for years) is not worth the investment….That is what next year is all about.”

Luntz told the candidates after hearing those stories he found it “strange” that the candidates had “gone at each other” in the debates.  “This may get me fired, truthfully,” Luntz said. “But I would hope you would understand that you have more you agree and that you carry yourselves this way through the rest of the campaign.”

Luntz then invited the candidates to discuss a personal failing.  Gingrich talked about his mother’s divorce, then his own.  Gingrich said when he rose through the ranks of the U.S. House, “although I was remarkably successful in a lot of ways, there was a part of me that was truly hollow.” Gingrich said a friend gave him the AA books and he read the “Big Book” to discover “why” he had failed and caused “a great deal of pain” which Gingrich said regrets “deeply.”

Paul talked about struggling because he is his own “worst critic” and he talked about injuries he suffered as a teen which prevented him from being an athlete.

Cain said he regrets not spending more time with his family when his children were young.  “I have been very successful in my business life and I owe that success to God almighty being in my life throughout those experiences….No one is perfect and I believe that I have had a series of little failures rather than one great big disaster…..I didn’t believe that I was home enough when my kids were growing up.” 

Cain started tearing up again. “I’ve got to stop doing this,” he said.

“I feel like Dr. Phil,” Luntz said.

Perry was the last to reveal a failing, and it was that he failed organic chemistry and therefore failed to fulfill his dream of becoming a veterinarian.  “If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans,” Perry said.

Previous posts from the forum were about abortion, about being “libertine” and about Occupy Wall Street.  There were a couple of preview posts as well.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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