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4 months from Iowa caucuses, GOP candidates court evangelical voters

Ten Republican candidates attended the Faith and Freedom town hall in Des Moines, indicating how important Christian voters are in Iowa.
4 months from Iowa caucuses, GOP candidates court evangelical voters
Posted at 6:58 AM, Sep 18, 2023

There are still about four months between now and the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, which represents the first say voters will have in choosing the GOP's presidential nominee. 

Harvest season in Iowa means frequent visits from the candidates as they prepare for the next Republican debate next week. The caucuses also attract many evangelical voters, making their support important heading into primary season.

The candidates are vying for the support of voters like Phil Bechtel, who remains undecided. 

"Probably have three main issues: the economy, immigration, and faith and family," he said. 

On Friday night, former President Donald Trump was at a faith summit in Washington, D.C., but skipped Saturday's Faith and Freedom Coalition town hall in Des Moines, a gathering of 10 Republicans seeking the nomination by appealing to Christian conservatives.

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In the unsettled wake after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade last year, abortion is a major issue among candidates and voters.

Florida Gov. DeSantis wants to win this state but remains far behind Trump in the polls. 

"As president, I am going to welcome pro-life policies," DeSantis said. 

Immigration and the economy were topics covered in a series of one-on-one interviews with the candidates. When asked about abortions, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said he wants to see more family support for adoptions.

"One of the things that I know that works is adoption and crisis pregnancy centers," Scott said. 

"I'm going to fight on the side of life every chance I get, but I am not going to demonize people in the process," said Nikki Haley, the United States' former ambassador to the United Nations.

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National security and the United States' involvement in Ukraine also remained top issues. 

"I believe it's absolutely in the national interest of the U.S. to give the Ukraine military what they need," former Vice President Mike Pence said. 

An August Des Moines Register poll showed Trump's support at 47% among evangelicals, with DeSantis at 20%.

Republicans hold their national convention in Milwaukee next summer.

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