An evangelical political action group has invited likely Republican presidential candidates for a talk on pro-family values in the first announced caucus forum.
The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition announced this week plans for a March 7 presidential debate. Formerly known as the Iowa Christian Alliance, the group intends to send prospective candidates the message that Iowan Christians are an important constituency.
"Candidates considering a run for president must take the Iowa Caucuses seriously and we are the caucus voters," IFFC President Steve Scheffler declared in a statement.
Two days after Nov. 2 midterm election, the national Faith and Freedom Coalition released election polling statistics that proves that evangelicals are a key voting block. According to its statistics, a third of Americas who voted Nov. 2 were evangelicals.
"What we know from [Nov. 2] is that one of the largest, if not the largest, single voting blocs in the electorate is conservative people of faith," FFC founder and chairman Ralph Reed announced duing a press conference.
The IFFC mailed their invitations to the potential candidates on Monday. The invitation reads, "This event is an important stop for candidates because over 60 percent of 2008 GOP caucus goers in Iowa self-identified themselves as evangelical Christians. There will be no better opportunity to meet these voters this spring than the 2011 IFFC Spring Kick-Off. Come early and stay late to shake hands and to talk to your potential voters one on one before and after the program."
The list of invited officials features many familiar names. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are among the Republicans who received invitations to participate in the forum.
Of the list of 13 guests and potential entrants in the presidential primary, no one has officially declared his/herself as a candidate. However, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding many of the invitees.
A CNN poll published earlier this week showed that 67 percent of Republicans favor Huckabee for the party's presidential candidate. The same poll showed high support for Romney and Gingrich, 59 and 54 percent respectively.
Palin came in a close second to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Gallup Poll's most admired woman of the year category in 2010. All of the Republican National Committee chairman candidates also said they believed that Palin could win against Barack Obama.
The forum will likely be great opportunity to see who is seriously considering a bid for the White House and who conservatives will likely choose as a frontrunner in the primary.
According to the invitation, the format will not be that of a formal debate. Instead, the meeting is being characterized as a candidate meet-and-greet.
"There will be no question and answer time," the invitation reads. "But it will give presidential candidates ten minutes to make a pitch and present their vision as the voters of Iowa begin the process of making their decisions for the first in the nation caucuses."
The forum will be held March 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Scheffler boosts that IFFC has over 560,000 voter contacts through its VoterTrak program. He expects well over 500 conservative evangelicals to attend.