The number of White House hopefuls in Iowa will swell significantly this weekend. Ten Republican candidates plan to attend an event in Ames on Saturday.
The Family Leadership Summit is hosted by The Family Leader — a conservative Christian group. Each candidate will spend 20 minutes on stage with author, pollster and Republican political consultant Frank Luntz.
“This isn’t going to be stump speeches. This is going to be one-on-one with Frank Luntz and the audience,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader said during an appearance last weekend on Iowa Public Television. “We’re going to try to get to: Why do you believe what you believe?”
This is the 4th annual Family Leadership Summit. Vander Plaats was already talking about the 2016 presidential campaign at last year’s summit.
“I believe more and more and more we need to be vetting the candidates on who they are and what character do they have,” Vander Plaats said, to applause from the crowd.
Christian conservatives are looking for a “moral” leader who can be trusted, according to Vander Plaats.
“Leadership’s not about lording over people, controlling people, telling them: ‘Do this. Do that,'” Vander Plaats said last August, “but it’s about serving people.”
Mark Waits of Mystic, a former pastor who is a county supervisor in Appanoose County, plans to be in Ames Saturday and stay for all 10 candidates.
“I think we have a great responsibility not only for Iowa, but for the United States because we play a big part in choosing the next president,” Waits says.
Waits is leaning toward supporting a candidate with experience running a state and he went to see Rick Perry speak in Knoxville last weekend.
The other big political event in Iowa this weekend is the Iowa Democratic Party’s “Hall of Fame” dinner in Cedar Rapids, where the competitors for their party’s presidential nomination will speak. It’s the first time in this campaign cycle that all five have appeared at the same event.