(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Hundreds of evangelicals gathered in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday to highlight the importance of the November election due to President Barack Obama's "war on religion." The speakers at the Faith and Freedom Coalition rally included Mike Huckabee, Ralph Reed and Newt Gingrich.
Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people at the Tampa Theatre Sunday afternoon, ahead of the Republican National Convention. He said conservatives were partly responsible for Obama's victory in the 2008 election when 17 million evangelical Christians chose not to vote.
"The church has allowed this to happen. I vowed that after the 2008 elections that as long as I have breath in my body that was never going to happen in America again," Tampa Bay Times quoted Reed as saying. "If we have to, we will crawl across broken glass, but we are coming and when we come we are going to have the biggest victory we have had for time-honored values in the history of this country. That's what's getting ready to happen."
Referring to Obama's contraceptive mandate, Reed said people of faith were being forced to "violate their own religious conscience" by covering contraception and abortifacients in employees' health care plans. "My friends, this is an injustice that we are not going to let stand, and either in the courts or on Election Day, we're going to end it once and for all."
Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee compared the Obama administration to Hurricane Isaac, whose threat forced the GOP to delay the start of the RNC until Tuesday. "We will take a hurricane getting near us in August, but we will make sure that the hurricane of this administration is way, way, way away from us come January of next year," he said.
Former U.S. House Speaker Gingrich once again called Obama "the most extreme pro-abortion president in history." He referred to Obama's vote against the Born-Alive Infants Protection bill when he was a state legislator in Illinois. Obama said at that time that it would unfairly restrict a woman's right to have an abortion. He added that he was for a similar law on the federal level.
Gingrich said Obama's opposition to the bill shows he "stood out as uniquely, deeply committed to the killing of unborn children."
Gingrich was the only speaker who mentioned the Mormon faith of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he sought to compare him with Obama. "I'm delighted that he has a faith, and I'm delighted that it matters to him," he said. "That's a big improvement amongst our left-wing secular elites."
Gingrich also said Obama was "a direct threat to the survival of the country I grew up in." He added that the "elite media" had failed to question the president about his abortion views.
Incoming Fla. House Speaker Will Weatherford criticized Obama for his lack of faith in "the very pillars that this country was founded upon."
Wis. Gov. Scott Walker was about to address the crowd when Occupy Tampa and Occupy Chicago protesters interrupted by yelling, "Walker hates workers!" Others in the balcony tried unfurling banners that said, "Walker hates working families." Police issued warnings to six protesters.
The speakers at the rally addressed conservative issues. Romney is expected to focus mostly on economy at the RNC.