“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bowen said, as she set down a basket filled with fetus dolls.
For evangelical voters, this is not a season of clarity.
They are trying to decide if moral fiber is more important than religious affiliation, if the right relationship with Jesus Christ trumps the right portfolio to defeat President Obama, and if Mormonism is to be regarded with more suspicion than the Catholicism that many evangelicals have come to tolerate.
What is clear from the Iowa evangelicals gathered here is that they remain open to inspiration.
“Evangelicals could support any of the candidates who are running,” Huckabee, who hosted the event, said backstage. But he offered reasons why evangelicals might not support some of the candidates who are running.
Speaking of the thrice-married Newt Gingrich, Huckabee said, “There are consequences to our actions. God may forgive us, but it doesn’t mean that people are going to forget.” As women onstage offered a trilling rendition of “In God We Still Trust,” Huckabee added: “He’s paying for it every time he has to answer a question about it.”
Asked whether it mattered that Mitt Romney was a Mormon, Huckabee said, “I don’t think that his faith being different means that he’s less qualified to be president.” He added, though, that he had no clear idea of Romney’s relationship with Jesus Christ — an issue of paramount importance to evangelicals. Huckabee said that what bothered him most was Romney’s lack of “consistency within his faith” and pointed to Romney’s support of abortion rights in the 1994 U.S. Senate race against Ted Kennedy.
As Huckabee spoke, evangelicals poured through the theater’s mahogany halls to watch previews of movies such as “Generation Zero” (a quick succession of ominous images included crashing planes, collapsing buildings and a shark leaping out of the water) and an antiabortion movie called “The Gift of Life.” Michele Bachmann, Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum gave short speeches heavy on religious rhetoric. Huckabee then took the stage, prompting a nostalgic burst of applause.
“There were four candidates who cleared their schedules and made this a priority event,” Huckabee told the audience. “It speaks volumes that they are here.”
And it speaks volumes that Romney, endorsed this weekend by the Des Moines Register, has opted to skip such events. A visit with Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Family Leader, an influential Christian activist organization here, makes that clear.