Last night I had the great opportunity to be at the Iowa Christian Alliance "Friends of the Family Awards Banquet" (being part of the Host Committee) with special guest Phyllis Schlafly. Also headlining the event were US Congressmen Jim Nussle (running for Governor vs Chet Culver now), Steve King, and Tom Latham, as well as Congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti.
A few highlights from the event:
I met Phyllis Schlafly and thanked her for her work on conservative causes for the last several decades. I also got a photo with her (pooly timed blink by me)I sat with several people excited about Gov. Romney at a table hosted by the Commonwealth PAC. I had met Ryan and Brenda Miller previously but they brought their friends Aaron and Rebecca Richardson (also from the Des Moines area). I also noticed and spoke with two LDS missionaries that were at the event; they were invited by someone (not LDS) they have been having some conversations with recently. They also told me that some friend missionaries of theirs had been knocking on doors in the Des Moines area a little while ago and had apparently happened upon David Yepsen's house. Apparently Yepsen said that he knew a prominent Mormon and produced a recent article that he had written about Romney . . . I thought that was an interesting exchange (Just to be clear, the LDS missionaries have absolutely NO duties or interest in political endeavors . . . though I'm sure they will be getting A LOT of inquiries about Romney during the next couple of years)
I also had a chance to speak for a minute (and get a picture with) Jim Nussle. He was busy shaking every hand he could.
Among the speakers Nussle, King, and Schlafly had especially notable messages:
Nussle addressed the recent Abortion hub-bub by confirming his committment to the pro-life cause. He pointed out the hypocrisy of his opponent questioning his pro-life credentials because he (Nussle) has a 100% pro-life voting record and because Culver is the most pro-choice politician to ever run for Governor here in Iowa.
King then took the stage (he and Schlafly were the only speakers to get a standing ovation before and after their addresses). King always gives a dynamic speech and he did not fail to impress. He said that the several hundred people in the room will be the ones choosing our next President . . . that the influence of the politically active Christian coservatives in that room would weigh heavily in who will be the 2008 GOP nominee and future President. King then said that we should take the opportunity to get to know each of the candidates personally and to find out where they really stand on issues important to conservatives , especially the Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA) and in being tough on immigration.
Phyllis Schlafly spoke later in the evening. Immigration was her topic. She echoed Rep. King's call to take seriously the role Iowa Christians have in choosing our Presidents. She spoke of how unacceptable the Senate's recent Immigration Bill was. She spoke of the costly entitlements that illegals would enjoy after their "amnesty" went into effect. She mocked that the bill was being touted by much of the senate leadership as "bipartisan and comprehensive" as Schlafly then said "Kennedy-McCain is hardly a true representation of bipartisanship (paraphrased)" . . . an obvious dig both at Kennedy and McCain since they each represent the left leaning sides of their respective parties.
I say this was a bad night for McCain not just because of Schlafly's dig, but because of the the two specific issues that King brought up, the MPA and immigration. McCain voted against the MPA (as this gay news source praised). Other potential GOP hopefuls have problems with these issues, namely Rudy (on record against the MPA and for the Senate Immigration bill), and even Mike Huckabee (strong on social conservative issues like the MPA and abortion, but is very soft on Immigration-- here too ).
So, where does Romney stand on the two issues de jour of the evening? He has a very strong record on immgration and has not endorsed the Senate Immigration bill. On the MPA, Romney's as strong as they come. That's why I think that, despite being absent, this was a good night for Romney and a bad night for McCain and others.
UPDATE: See a Report from the Caucus Cooler about the event. It actually appears that Mike Huckabee was at the event but was very incospicuous. Wish I could have spoken with him.