DES MOINES—After months of the economy dominating the primary campaign, social issues finally took center stage Saturday in Iowa.
Six GOP candidates who are making appeals to Iowa’s social conservative caucus voters took part in a forum hosted by the Family Leader — sitting around a table on a church stage set with Thanksgiving adornments for a discussion focused on “faith,” “freedom” and “morality.”
The event, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Leader — a group and led by a longtime activist who played a key role in organizing for caucuses winner Mike Huckabee four years ago — marked an accelerated pitch for a prominent Iowa voting bloc.
But missing was Mitt Romney, the perceived Republican presidential frontrunner, who has never been the preferred favorite of social conservatives, and who opted to be in New Hampshire for the weekend.
Family Leader head Bob Vander Plaats, who last week said Romney was “dissing” the conservative base and predicted it could cost him the nomination, set the tone right away on stage.