GOP Presidential Candidates Court Iowans
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Don Gonyea reports on Republican activity in the state and on how Republican voters are reacting.
DON GONYEA: The Republican who's been getting the most buzz this week in Iowa seems to be former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. The social conservative was in the upstairs dining room at Doughy Joey's pizza lounge in Waterloo when he found out that a woman seated at a long table to his left was having a birthday.
H: (Singing) Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday...
GONYEA: Here's Huckabee.
MIKE HUCKABEE: We do have a responsibility to protect life from the point of conception. I'm not a person who just come to that conclusion in the last few months or just in order to run for president. I didn't become pro-life because I got into politics. I got into politics because I believe that this is an issue that fundamental determines what kind of civilization (unintelligible)
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
GONYEA: Meanwhile, Senator John McCain was in the Dubuque, Des Moines and Sioux City making his own pitch for those same voters. He was joined by Senator Sam Brownback, who dropped out of the presidential race two weeks ago. Brownback has rock-solid conservative credentials coveted by all the frontrunners. But he said McCain is his man.
SAM BROWNBACK: And here is a pro-life leader who will appoint strict constructionist judges so that I believe we can end this night of wrong and have Roe vs. Wade overturned.
GONYEA: Rudy Giuliani, however, got the headlines this week when he picked up the endorsement of TV host and the evangelist Pat Robertson, who was a candidate himself here 20 years ago. The Robertson nod comes despite Giuliani's own history of supporting abortion rights. But at a Giuliani town hall meeting in Cedar Falls yesterday, abortion did not come up at all. Neither did the 9/11 terror attacks, the centerpiece of his candidacy. Instead, in an unusually low key speech, he focused on things like crime, health care and taxes.
RUDY GIULIANI: I would reduce taxes. Democrats will raise taxes. We're going to have a heck of a difference November of next year. American people are going to have one of those elections in which there's going to be a clear difference. You vote for the Democrat, you're voting for higher taxes.
GONYEA: Twenty-nine-year-old firefighter K.C. Carr(ph) is a Republican who attended the Huckabee event at the pizza parlor in Waterloo.
CARR: It's kind of a sore subject for most people. And that's got our name written all over it. So I think we've got a battle to win. But I'm hoping that the hearts of the people will overcome those things and kind of take us the way we need to go.
GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Cedar Falls. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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