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What Do the Iowa Caucuses Tell Us?



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The thing that should be clear to observers of the Iowa caucuses is that social conservatives remain a critical component of the conservative movement. It’s been said that there are three legs of the conservative stool: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and national-security conservatives. But many in the elite, including some in the GOP elite in Washington, have been working hard to dismiss the importance of social conservatism. Iowa reminds us that this is a losing strategy for the Republican party.

I attended the Waterloo caucus and listened to people talk in the crowd and the candidates’ representatives make their final pitches. Virtually every one of the representatives spoke of their candidate’s solid commitment to social conservatism — support for life from conception to natural death and a fervent commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  Certainly Rick Santorum’s meteoric rise in Iowa is due in large part to his consistent championing of social-conservative issues, especially life and marriage. 

Ron Paul’s representative didn’t mention his views on marriage, and no wonder. His position on marriage is far out of the mainstream of Republican beliefs — not only has he said “sure” to gay marriage, he actually has advocated abolishing civil marriage altogether. Ron Paul was expecting to win Iowa, but he finished third. His failure to recognize and support the fundamental, foundational importance of marriage is a big reason for that. NOM ran television and online ads, launched tens of thousands of robo-calls, and mounted grassroots activities with our thousands of supporters in the state.

Social conservatives were heard from in Iowa. They propelled Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney — who along with Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann signed NOM’s marriage pledge — to the front of the pack, and sent an important message to Ron Paul.

Iowa reminded the GOP elite that supporting marriage is a winning issue. Marriage won in Iowa, just as it has won in 31 of 31 state elections.

— Brian Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage.



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