During a weekend forum in Des Moines, six Republican presidential candidates courted Christian conservatives and those who advocate significant changes in the federal tax code.
The forum was co-sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance. Each candidate was given half an hour behind the microphone. They were asked to address issues like gay marriage and stem cell research and to outline their philosophies on taxes and spending.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee fully embraced the so-called "Fair Tax" which would be a national sales tax to replace the federal income tax. "Any one of us…would be far better for you and the wallets and the homes and families of America than any one of the Democrats that you might have to choose from," Huckabee told the crowd.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the only one of the six GOP candidates to offer kind words about the current Republican president. "This president has done some great things. I know it’s very popular these days to criticize President Bush. Don’t forget, following 9/11, he has kept us safe and that’s a great accomplishment," Romney said, to applause from the audience. "He has appointed two great justices, Justice Alito and Justice Roberts, and they have kept us safe."
The candidates focused a portion of their remarks on immigration reform.
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo drew loud and prolonged applause his criticism of illegal immigration and he drew laughter with his poke at Democrat Hillary Clinton’s famous husband. "With Bill Clinton already measuring the drapes in the White House, conservatives cannot afford to sit this one out," Tancredo said. "…The conservative movement is not supposed to choose a candidate, it’s supposed to produce a candidate."
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson said a secure border between the U.S. and Mexico would be a top priority if he’s elected. "I will begin in the first day in office and will have that barrier completed within the first 100 days of my presidency," Thompson said.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter pledged to have a fence completed along the border within six months of taking office.
Each of the six GOP candidates issued a sort of "no new taxes" pledge, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. "No tax increases. I have always opposed raising taxes. I think we’re taxed to the max," Brownback said. "…We need to cut spending."
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican who is running for president, held a barbeque for supporters next door to the forum. Paul was not invited to speak at the Iowans for Tax Relief/Iowa Christian Alliance event.
Paul was nominated in 1988 as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate and he received just less than one-half-of-one percent of the vote.
To learn more about what the six candidates said at the forum, click on The Blog.