Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson spoke with nearly every one of the 850 people at Saturday’s Iowa Christian Alliance banquet. Thompson positioned himself at the head of the food line, just before the plates and napkins, where he could shake hands and pose for pictures with the Iowa Christian Alliance members.
Thompson was the lone candidate to accept the invitation to attend, but not speak at the event. Thompson also refused to speak with reporters afterwards. Thompson recently told a crowd in South Carolina that he is "right with God" but does not regularly attend church. Thompson indicated he does not plan to speak about his religious beliefs as he campaigns for the presidency.
The last time Republicans selected a presidential nominee, George Bush made no secret of his own faith and during a debate in Des Moines said his favorite political philosopher was Jesus Christ.
Many in the crowd of Christian conservatives gathered Saturday night in Des Moines have already made up their minds and are backing another candidate anyway.
Barb Gilbertson of Cedar Falls says she really likes Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who’s a Baptist minister."Just because he’s incredibly genuine and he has ideas that reflect my own," Gilbertson says. But other members of the Iowa Christian Alliance, like Robert Gamble of West Des Moines, haven’t found a candidate yet. Gable knows what he’s looking for, however.
"We want a conservative, someone who’s strong on family values and traditional marriage," he says. "Somebody who will lead our country and be strong against terrorists."
Bob Klaus of Cedar Rapids is "considering" Thompson. "He reminds me a little bit of Ronald Reagan in a lot of ways," Klaus says.
Toward the end of Thompson’s Saturday night appearance, he led a line of reporters and photographers from one end of the hall to the other, headed for the exit where his campaign had promised he’d stop to answer questions.
But his first swing by the exit took Thompson into the men’s restroom instead. When he emerged, Thompson doubled back into the hall to collect his wife and child before exiting and climbing in a black SUV and driving away.