2024 GOP presidential hopefuls court faith-based voters in Iowa

Sen. Tim Scott, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump are some of the Republicans attending Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual spring fundraiser.
Posted at 8:41 PM, Apr 22, 2023

In the midst of a Midwestern chill in a state that prides itself on its first-in-the-nation status, 2024 Republican White House hopefuls descended on Iowa to court an influential group of faith-based caucus goers.

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spring kick-off is offering candidates a chance to earn support in a potentially growing GOP field in a state where a majority of adults are Christian, with a significant portion evangelical, and will kick off the start of the Republican presidential primary next year.

"Well, I think they need to be authentic. I don't think any of them are looking for, 'You have to pass my litmus test and going to this kind of church or this kind of church,' but they're looking for somebody that will take those principles, you know, whether it's a live issue or religious liberty, they will defend those principles," said Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition President Steve Scheffler.

Many of the declared and potential candidates talked about their own faith as they courted voters in Iowa.

"My faith. I was raised in a church family," said former Vice President Mike Pence. "There’s almost nowhere in America that feels like more like home than Iowa."

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Pence addressed Republican women on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court ruled on abortion medication.

"I have some role to play in our national life in the future. I'll continue to support efforts on a state-by-state basis to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law," Pence said. "But I'll certainly also support efforts to create a threshold of support for the unborn."

Pence mostly focused on criticizing the Biden administration and standing by the former administration’s policy record, as he and others consider a run.

Like U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who spent time touring an Iowa farm.

"The simple answer is, as I continue on the Faith of America tour, as I continue to tour farms and businesses, and churches, it gives me an opportunity to understand whether or not what I'm focused on, which is an optimistic, positive message anchored in conservatism," said Scott.

But candidates still face the task of offering an alternative to former President Donald Trump, who leads in many polls. 

"I have had the privilege of living the American dream. I believe that America can do for anyone what she has done for me," said Scott. "I think we have to celebrate who we are. We have to celebrate, not actually cancel. One of the things I hope that you'll hear tonight is that we are the land of opportunity, not the land of oppression."

The Democratic National Committee commented ahead of Saturday’s event, saying that Republicans have an extreme agenda that is out of touch with Americans.