Santorum, referring to rivals, asks: “Can they be trusted?”

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the last of six candidates to speak this evening at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition banquet in Des Moines.  “Are you numb yet?” Santorum asked when he got behind the microphone. “…”This is my 5433 trip to Iowa — just a little exaggeration.”

Santorum noted he has visited 78 of Iowa’s 99 counties and soon suggested this is the choice for Iowa Republicans who are evaluating the candidates: “Can they be trusted?”

Santorum suggested “a lot of policy prescriptions” had been offered by the five other candidates this evening, but Santorum asked: “Did they fight those fights when they had the opportunity?”

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Paul cites Bible to make case on monetary policy

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is the fifth of six candidates scheduled to speak at tonight’s Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event.  He began by talking about kings.

“We have drifted in the direction of accepting a king in Washington, D.C. and I would like to undermine this,” Paul said. “….We need more family values, more governance by the family, not by the United States Government.”  The crowd applauded that declaration.

Paul quoted from I Timothy 5:8, where it says anyone who doesn’t care for his own family has denied the faith and “is worse than an unbeliever.”

“There are dozens of quotations in the Bible telling us we should have honest money.” Paul said. 

When asked (as all the other candidates have been) about “abortion on demand” and traditional marriage, Paul said: “Traditional marriage is obviously between a man and a woman and I have supported the Defense of Marriage Act.”

“…As an OB doctor, I know when life begins.”  Paul also touted his “We the People Act” which he has filed in congress to remove the jurisdiction on “all these issues from the federal courts.”

“I know it’s tempting to wait for the courts to be changed and the amendment to be passed, but it’s taking too long,” Paul said.

Gingrich seems to get loudest applause of night

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is the fourth candidate to speak tonight at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event, and the crowd seemed very engaged by his remarks.

Gingrich repeated his call for seven, three-hour-long debates with President Obama.  “To be fair, I would agree that he can use a teleprompter,” Gingrich joked.  The crowd laughed and applauded.  “After all, if you had to spend an entire three-hour debate defending ObamaCare, wouldn’t you want to have the help of a teleprompter?”

When asked about “abortion on demand” Gingrich referred to a policy paper at about the judiciary and “activist” judges.

As one of the hosts of the event posed his question (in the same way he has to the previous candidates), Gingrich joked he had heard the question before.  There was laughter. State Senator Jerry Behn, the fellow asking questions on behalf of the Iowa Energy Forum, offered up an apology, said he was just trying to be fair to the candidates.

“You’re not some news guy,” Gingrich quipped.

Gingrich got a huge response from the crowd at the end of his remarks.

Perry pokes at Cain on abortion issue (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry used a portion of his remarks at tonight’s Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event to articulate his actions, as Texas governor, on the abortion issue.  But Perry also characterized Cain’s remarks about abortion earlier this week on CNN as “pro-having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too.”

“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision. If that is your view, you are not pro-life,” Perry said of Cain, without directly saying Cain’s name. “You are pro-having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too.”

AUDIO of Perry’s remarks on abortion issue.

Perry began with this declaration:  “As governor of Texas and throughout my career I have taken an unwavering stand in defense of life.”  Just before he launched into Cain, Perry said: “Being pro-life is not a matter of campaign convenience.  It is a core conviction.”

Bachmann @ IFFC speaks of “flatter, simpler, fairer income tax”

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was second to speak tonight.  During her speech, Bachmann made a declaration on the abortion issue:  “I stand for a constitutional amendment to protect life from conception to a natural death.”

She described herself as the “old woman in a shoe” (because of her 5 children and 23 foster children) and Bachmann stressed her Iowa roots. During her answers to the questions by the hosts of tonight’s event after her speech, Bachmann vowed to shut down swathes of the federal government, and the crowd applauded loudly.

“I will shut down the Dept. of Education. I will shut down the EPA. I will shut down the Dept. of Energy.  I will shut down the Dept. of Interior. I will shut down the Dept. of Commerce. We have got to decide once and for all, the federal government gets practically nothing right. Shut it down,. Send it back to the states. We can do this. The country will be better for it and it will lead to a pro-growth economy.” 

Bachmann has recently said she would return the country to a Reagan-era tax code.  Tonight Bachmann seemed to say something slightly different. “I will abolish the United States federal tax code and have a flatter, simpler, fairer income tax,” she said.

Cain @ IFFC: “no abortions; no exceptions” (AUDIO)

Herman Cain was the first candidate to speak this evening.  He began by quoting Ronald Reagan.”This is a battle, a fight for freedom,” Cain said, before talking about the “strength” of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the free market system.

“We have the greatest economic engine on the planet…Our economy’s on life support, but when it receives the right fuel no other nation on the planet can touch it,” he declared.

Cain made a declaration of, “No abortions, no exceptions,” and the crowd applauded.

Cain used his “stupid people are ruining America” line a few moments later, to another round of applause.  “There are more of us. We’ve just got to out-vote them,” he said.

First question posed, asking for a comprehensive plan for energy policy.  “Current administration doesn’t have a policy. We will have an energy independence strategy because America has the resources to become energy independent…and my team is already working on putting that strategy together….It is a national security imperative.”

He got huge applause when he promised he would ensure the EPA has an “attitude adjustment.”

What energy policy over past three years would you have reversed?  “I would have allowed the American people what kind of light bulbs they want to put in their homes…Green energy is a joke.”

What would you do specifically to prevent abortion on demand and defend traditional marriage?  “I believe that we need a constitutional guarantee for traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”

As for abortion, Cain said: “I would not sign any legislation that where government-funded abortion. I would not sign any legislation that in any way allowed the government to be involved in it.  I would strengthen all of our current laws that prevent abortion. I believe that abortion should be clearly stated and illegal across this country and I would work to defund Planned Parenthood and I will make sure that I appoint judges that will enforce the constitution — no activist judges — and I would also make sure that we didn’t allow any bureaucrats to get in the way in order to protect the life of the unborn.”

Here’s the AUDIO of Cain’s answer, transcribed above.

The final question was about cutting the federal budget.   Cain mentioned 999 in his answer.

Candidates to be asked about abortion and gay marriage tonight

Six presidential candidates are scheduled to speak this evening at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet in Des Moines.  Each has about 10 minutes to give remarks, then each will be quizzed individually. IFFC leader Steve Scheffler says one of the questions will be about “traditional marriage and abortion on demand.”  This may give Herman Cain a chance to articulate an answer on abortion to answer those who’ve criticized him this week for his remarks on CNN. 

Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul came into the banquet hall before the program began to shake hands, pose for pictures and chat with potential Iowa Caucus-goers. Cain’s bus appears to be outside, but he’s not inside. Over a dozen “Occupy Des Moines” protesters stood across the street in a “protest zone” as banquet-goers made their way into the venue, chanting, “We are the 99 percent” and other chants from their greatest hits collection.  Some of the protesters had been part of the more than 100 folks who staged an “Occupy Obama” protest this morning at Obama’s Des Moines headquarters. One man in the crowd told me he is disappointed President Obama hasn’t done more to reign in corporate power.

Paul says Cain’s “inconsistent or…confused” on abortion issue

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul seems to have some compassion for the plight of his competitor, Herman Cain, who is being lambasted for how he has described his views on abortion, as Paul says he has found some of the criticism “confusing.”  But Paul also uses that word to describe what Cain himself has said on the issue.

“Obviously he’s come across as either being inconsistent or very confused on that,” Paul said late this morning during an interview with Radio Iowa. “And this is one issue that supporters of the issue — they don’t want confusion.”