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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GOP Candidates Court Evangelicals In Iowa

Republican presidential hopeful former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Sunday in Coralville, Iowa. (AP)

Republican presidential hopefuls are busy trying to catch the attention of evangelical voters in Iowa this week.

Wednesday night, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum will court that voting block at the screening of an anti-abortion documentary called “The Gift of Life,” at an event hosted by born-again Christian Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

60 percent of Iowa caucus-goers in 2008 self-identified as evangelical Christians and election watchers say that likely led to the unexpected win of Mike Huckabee over then front-runner Mitt Romney.

But Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson says this year is different because Iowa Republicans, like those across the country, are less concerned with social issues and more focused on the economy and the way the government is being run.

Henderson says a recent Iowa poll demonstrated this.

“Social issues are very very far down their to-do list for the next president,” Henderson said.

Is Romney Conceding The Evangelical Vote?

Mitt Romney will not attend the anti-abortion documentary screening .

“I think at this point he may be conceding these voters,” Henderson said.

Meanwhile, a group of pastors endorsed Michelle Bachmann Tuesday saying she was “biblically qualified to be president.”

“I think you’re starting to see a movement among social conservatives to choose somebody to be their standard bearer,” Henderson said.

Rick Perry’s Iowa Ads Aren’t Paying Off

Henderson says that even though “Rick Perry is spending boatloads of money on campaign advertising in Iowa,”  it hasn’t moved his polling numbers, a sign of how much his debate performance shaped public opinion.

“People saw Rick Perry up on that stage, they saw him stumble, they came to a conclusion and he is unable, with this massive amount of advertising to change that impression that people hadof him,” she said.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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