News / USA

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Woo Social Conservatives

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition at the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa, March 7, 2011
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition at the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa, March 7, 2011

The situation in Libya and the threat of a U.S. government shutdown over failure to agree on a budget are dominating political debate in Washington these days. But that is not the case in the early stages of the battle for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for 2012. The focus there seems to be on patriotic themes such as God and country.

It will be almost a year before Republicans can begin the process of selecting their presidential nominee through a series of state caucuses and primary votes. But the political jockeying has already begun for a handful of Republicans seriously considering a White House bid in 2012.

Several Republican hopefuls recently spoke to social conservatives in Iowa, the state that traditionally begins the presidential nominee selection process with its caucus voting scheduled for next February.

Among them was former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is exploring a presidential run next year, and chose to talk about his faith at the Iowa event.

"So, what are the truths? That we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Now why does that matter? Because it means the power comes from God to each one of you personally."

Religion also was on the mind of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who quoted heavily from the Bible during his remarks. "The Constitution was designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith."

Social conservatives are a critical group within the Republican Party, unified by a commitment to family values, and opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Republican presidential contenders often go to great lengths to appeal to social conservatives as a first step toward winning the party’s presidential nomination.

Other key groups within the Republican Party include economic conservatives and so-called Tea Party activists, who advocate cutting the size of government.

So far, none of the major potential Republican candidates have officially declared that they are in the 2012 race, but that is expected to change in the weeks ahead.

Republican pollster and political strategist Frank Luntz said Republican voters are looking for a candidate who embodies conservative principles and is willing to follow through on his or her promises.

Luntz spoke to the CSPAN public affairs network. "What they are looking for from these candidates is someone who says what they mean and means what they say. That phrase, 'say what you mean and mean what you say,' is the most important for any presidential candidate."

Some of the biggest Republican names who may join the 2012 presidential field did not attend the event in Iowa. Among them were former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Those three and Newt Gingrich generally are near the top of public opinion polls asking Republicans whom they prefer for 2012.

One wild card in the Republican field could be New York real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has said he will decide on a presidential run by June.

Fordham University political scientist Costas Panagopolous says political newcomers like Trump often face steep challenges when they get involved in presidential politics. "Outsider candidates with very little political experience face an uphill battle running for president under any circumstances, and I think that will be a challenge for anyone like a Donald Trump."

The Republican race has started slowly compared with the 2008 presidential campaign. At this point four years ago, most major contenders from both parties had already declared their candidacies and were out campaigning.

Analyst Rhodes Cook said Republicans historically have had a front-runner, or favorite, at the beginning of the election cycle who usually clinches the party's nomination, such as John McCain in 2008, George W. Bush in 2000 and Bob Dole in 1996.

"I mean, you had these people that were positioned as front-runners at the beginning of the Republican race and who kind of defined the Republican race. This time you don’t have that," said Cook.

In the next several weeks, potential Republican candidates will be out talking to voters and giving speeches in some of the early contest states, and, just as importantly, testing their ability to raise the huge amounts of money necessary to finance a presidential bid next year.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs