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.

Abortion policy as determining factor for foreign aid

During this afternoon’s GOP candidate forum in Des Moines, Rick Perry linked denial of foreign aid to a country’s abortion policies and suggested as presiden the would deny any US aid to China.

“In the last debate, I talked about that our foreign policy budgets need to start at zero….but the idea that we are sending billions of dollars to China who are aborting 35,000 children a day is immoral and wrong and has to stop.”   The crowd gathered in the Des Moines church to witness the conversation applauded.

Later, during a discussion about making abortion illegal in the U.S., Michele Bachmann said, “the new playround of the left is ObamaCare” and she suggested Planned Parenthood would push for coverage of “chemical abortion” as preventative care and would be “billing that to the federal government.”

Paul and Gingrich have “libertine” mini-debate

Moderator Frank Luntz directed this afternoon’s discussion among six GOP presidential candidates to Hollywood and changing the culture and started a give-and-take between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. 

“The goal of government isn’t to mold society and to mold people,” Paul said, arguing the goal of government should be liberty.  “….Our values should come from our family and from our church….Our goal (through government) ought to be to preserve liberty.”   The crowd applauded.

Luntz a few moments later talked of research indicating people of faith are happier.  As Gingrich chimed in on the subject, he took a shot at Paul.  “I don’t think liberty means libertine…None of the founding fathers said that,” Gingrich said. 

Paul a few moments later shot back at Gingrich. “Liberty doesn’t mean libertine,” Paul said. “It means you have choices, but you suffer the consequences.”

“Occupy Wall Street” a topic of conversation

Newt Gingrich, during one of his answers at the Thanksgiving Family Forum this afternoon featuring six presidential candidates, attacked the Occupy Wall Street movement  “The Occupy movement starts with a premise that we all owe them everything,” Gingrich said, adding his message to the occupiers was this: “Go get a job right after you take a bath.”   The crowd applauded and cheered.

Herman Cain was next, suggesting the occupiers are “immoral,” because they are asking for “freedom without responsibility.”

Frank Luntz promises no gotcha questions, bells, buzzers or whistles

About 10 minutes before the Thanksgiving Family Forum featuring six GOP presidential candidates got underway, political consultant Frank Luntz — the moderator tonight — spoke to the crowd.  “This is probably one of the most important day in my life,” Luntz said, adding he wants the people in the room and those watching or listening at home to “understand what’s in these people’s hearts.”

Luntz got applause for promising no bells, buzzers or whistles. “There won’t be any gotcha questions, tryint to make people look bad,” he said, promising he would “challenge them, to engage them in a real conversastion.”

“…Every candidate will be heard.  What happened to Ron Paul, receiving only 89 seconds of the first hour (of the last debate) is simply wrong. You’re going to hear from everybody tonight,” Luntz said, getting applause.

Luntz asked if there were any Occupy Wall Street protesters in the room.  “If you’ve come here to protest, take two minutes now and speak to everyone here about what’s on your mind….so there isn’t a disruption in the next two hours.”

A man stepped forward, said he was from the state of Nevada. He spoke about his faith, and then asked that the discussion be steered to the Federal Reserve Bank.

BVP says Christians can be “a movement that transforms this culture”

The pre-program is on for the Thanksgiving Family Forum featuring six GOP presidential candidates.  Bob Vander Plaats, president & CEO of The Family Leader — the group sponsoring this event, got a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Vander Plaats mentioned Charlie Sheen, and then told the crowd:  “If we do our job right, this is going to be about winning.”

Vander Plaats said it is “not by accident” that the event is being staged in a church.  “God had three institutions. Yes, he instituted the church. Yes, he instituted the family, but yes, he also instituted government,” Vander Plaats said. “…They are near and dear to his heart.”

Vander Plaats said it might be “tough medicine on a Saturday afternoon” for his message, but he told the crowd it is “spiritual negligence” to fail to participate in the political process. 

Vander Plaats said Christians could mount “a movement that transforms this culture.”

The forum begins in 10 minutes.

No kids table @ The Family Leader Thanksgiving Discussion

The church is filling up.  A Thanksgiving table is center stage, with a table cloth, decorations and seven chairs.  Six GOP presidential candidates will be here soon. Frank Luntz, the political consultant you’ve seen on FOX and The Colbert Report, will be leading the discussion. Although event host Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader suggested there might be an empty chair for Mitt Romney, the candidate who declined the invitation to be here today, there is no empty chair.  There’s no kids table either, but two groups of people are seated on either side of the stage — and the Thanksgiving table.   Go time is 45 minutes away.  Back with live blogging.