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.



    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora