The fall of marriage equality bans in all 50 states following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision was a disaster for the conservative movement, whose leaders have spent years demonizing same-sex couples and warning that the legal recognition of their marriages will unleash a wave of terror on the nation.
Even the not-exactly-pious GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, is activelycourting the anti-gay Right, although he has trouble explaining why he should be seen as a strong defender of “traditional marriage.”
In the eyes of many conservative activists, Obergefell was the product of a culture that had been slipping away for years, bringing America into an apocalyptic period where growing acceptance for homosexuality is ushering in disastrous consequences.
Weeks before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah declared that if the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and conservative states didn’t seceded from the union in protest, anti-gay activists like himself would flee the country. “Are there any governors or legislatures out there among the 50 states willing to secede to offer a refuge for the God-fearing?” he asked, warning that if states were to stay in the U.S. following a pro-equality decision, the world should expect “a pilgrimage by millions of Americans.”
End Times radio host Rick Wiles told his listeners that the country would “be brought to its knees” if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of marriage equality and that there would be “pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country,” caused by “riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space.”
Texas pastors Robert Jeffress and Rick Scarborough also got in the mix. Jeffress said the ruling could pave the way for the Antichrist while Scarborough said conservatives must “fight until we die” and “push back with all our might” against a ruling in favor of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.” Scarborough even boasted that he was ready to go to jail and face death: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”
As one might expect, the responses to the ruling were not much different from the predictions.
The day after the ruling, Wiles declared that he received a message from God, who asked him to tell the people to “flee” the country before God destroys it through economic ruin, food shortages, terrorism, disease and slavery. “America is over,” he declared. Later, Wiles predicted that America is “going to see gunfire” from people resisting the government over gay marriage. “Somebody’s going to jail, somebody’s going to die, somebody’s going to suffer,” he said.
Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post said Obergefell would lead to “an economic crash much more serious than the stock market crash of 29,” while WND’s Farah envisioned “more civil and racial strife” or “an attack on our country from foreign power or terrorist group.”
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes said that “pastors who refuse to perform gay marriage and preach from the Bible should prepare for hate crime charges,” while Illinois pastor Erwin Lutzer told religious parents to prepare to “be diagnosed as culturally intolerant and personality intolerant,” as a result of which “their children will be taken away from them.” Perkins of the FRC claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision would threaten the freedom of speech and gun rights.
American Family Radio host Sandy Rios, who also serves as the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, said that homosexuality may have been “a factor” in the deadly Amtrak crash in May. She suggested that the engineer, who is gay, may have been having a breakdown as he experienced “some confusion” related to homosexuality.
Fellow AFR host Bryan Fischer specifically blamed flooding in Texas on God’s judgment for homosexuality, saying that “you can make a geographical connection” between flooding and homosexuality. (We wonder what that means for American Family Radio’s home town of Tupelo, Mississippi, which was hit by a tornado last year).
Huckabee also suggested that America is in “a dangerous place” because “if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” and God will not protect such a nation.
The Religious Right has a long history of absurdly claiming that evangelical Christians are facing persecution in America, and the Obergefell ruling only amped up such rhetoric.
Huckabee warned that the gay rights movement “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel,” lamenting that too many Christians don’t realize “how close they are to losing all of their freedoms.” Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also got in on the action, warning that a gay “jihad” is “going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Glenn Beck predicted that Obergefell would result in serious repercussions for the media, claiming that “anybody on this show [who] says they’re for traditional marriage” will have their airtime in jeopardy as the ruling “could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine.”
Nothing set off more persecution rhetoric than the Kim Davis saga, in which the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk blocked her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a court order, citing “God’s authority.” She was temporarily placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals after she said she would continue to flout the courts and was only released after deputy clerks started to issue the licenses.
Even before the Davis case, many Republicans had been insisting that government officials may not have to treat court rulings on marriage as authoritative after all, and can simply flout the process of judicial review. Obergefell gave them the perfect opportunity to put these arguments into action.
Before quitting the presidential race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted the decision, explaining that “no earthly court can change the definition of marriage.” Huckabee said that if elected president, he would tell the Supreme Court: “Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it.” “It’s a matter of saving our republic to say that, as president, we’re not going to accept this decision, we will ignore it and we will not enforce it,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also claimed that when civil law conflicts with “God’s rules,” then government officials must choose the latter because “God’s rules always win.” Rubio, along with his fellow GOP presidential candidates Cruz, Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina, also pledged to sign legislation confronting the supposed discrimination faced by gay marriage opponents.
The “700 Club” host worried in September that gay marriage would trigger a perilous financial crisis, warning that “the rupture of the entire financial framework of our world” could occur because of the Obergefell ruling. He again alleged in November that “the wrath of God” is headed to America now that “it’s a constitutional right for sodomites to marry each other,” possibly in the form of “a massive financial collapse.”
“They’re going to make you conform to them,” he said of gay rights advocates. “You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is.”
“Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized,” he said in response to the Davis controversy. “You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism and the flood that comes about with it.” (Robertson, of course, has not been jailed).
Warning viewers that “the homosexuals don’t just want to be left alone, now they want to come out and stick it to the Christians,” Robertson said that gay rights laws are creating “absolute tyranny” and “it's high time we call it what it is and we stand up for freedom.”
The televangelist also offered his patented advice to people with gay children.
He told one mother to send her daughter, who is dating another woman, to a Christian summer camp and “pray that God will straighten her out.” He said that the girl was probably “pressured” into embracing a lesbian identity because “there’s so much lesbian stuff, I mean, lesbian this, lesbian the other, so much homosexual — the media is pushing this as hard as they can possibly push it.” He told another viewer who has a gay son to treat him like a drug addict, and advised yet another parent that God could change his gay son if only the son were to start “acting like a man.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, anti-gay Religious Right groups rallied around a piece of legislation known as the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from "taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."
Today, several of these groups — the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, Family Research Council Action — announced that six GOP presidential hopefuls have all signed a pledge to, if elected to the White House, push for the passage of the FADA within their first 100 days in office:
American Principles Project has joined together with Heritage Action for America, the action arm of the Heritage Foundation, and FRC Action, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, to invite each of the candidates running for President to sign the following pledge:
“If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President.”
So far, six candidates have signed the pledge:
• Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
• Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida)
• Dr. Ben Carson
• Carly Fiorina
• Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania)
• Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas)
Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, released the following statement:
“It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP. Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA. Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away.”
“For reasons I don’t fully understand, years and years of actually doing something and getting things done didn’t matter,” Huckabee said of the group’s deliberations. ”And I don’t understand that.”
…Huckabee, according to sources, has often reminded Perkins and his fellow influencers that a major reason he gave up his Fox News show and launched a 2016 campaign was because he expected to have their backing. Their decision to instead support Cruz, then, seemed to sting Huckabee personally as much as politically. “You know, everybody has a right to do what they want to do. But it was disappointing to me. These are guys I’ve worked with for years and years. Many of them I’ve helped with their projects and their various endeavors,” Huckabee says, shaking his head. A moment later, he adds, “But you know, that’s life.”
The Southern Baptist minister said leaders who stood behind pulpits and shared biblical stories of faith were far less likely to put faith in Huckabee’s candidacy.
“Some people really worshipped at the altar of electability rather than to be faithful and loyal to the principles they were supposed to be committed to,” Huckabee said on a telephone conference call sponsored by Charisma magazine.
“When it gets to their own political realm, they think more secularly than even the secular people. That was very troubling,” he said.
Right-wing activist Paul Weyrich said at the time that he regretted not having backed Huckabee when it might have made a difference. It seems likely that Huckabee could have made a strong case for Religious Right backing in 2012; in fact he had strong poll numbers in 2011 and the New York Times suggested that if he had entered the race he would have become the “presumed candidate of evangelicals.” But he seems to have missed his chance when he decided, after sending lots of contradictory signals, to sit that one out.
Earlier this month, Mike Huckabee joined American Family Radio host Dan Celia at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, where he was asked about the “twisted ideology” allegedly destroying the U.S. military.
“The morale in our military has never been lower,” Huckabee said. “Among our service men and women, there is a great sense of discouragement because they did not sign up to be a part of a special club to try out social experiments to appease those who push for political correctness.”
Instead of focusing on keeping the country safe, Huckabee said, “there has been such a focus to making sure that we have same-sex relationships that were celebrated in the military, that we push for a complete inclusion and even the taxpayer-funded payment of transgender surgery for service persons who believe that they are another gender. I cannot imagine why we would spend a dime changing the gender of someone in the military when we have vets coming back without arms and legs that are waiting months in a VA facility, that is inexcusable.”
He then claimed that military service members shouldn’t “cook meals, build schools, make nice shelters and do the work of the Peace Corps,” since the “purpose of the United States military is to kill people and break things and to create the most awesome, feared force on the face of the earth.” Only then, he said, will America’s enemies “respect us.”
Huckabee also addressed the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, which he once again labeled an “illegal and unconstitutional” ruling that should be ignored.
He blamed President Obama for the outcome of the ruling by “congratulating them on their sexual identity and sexual preference” and having “celebrated same-sex marriage” when he called openly gay athletes Jason Collins and Michael Sam after they came out of the closet.
After criticizing Obama’s support for marriage equality along with the major corporations that “put rainbows up on their website celebrating same-sex marriage,” Huckabee said “we would not be where we are in that decision had a president not given it the cultural kind of acceptance and the authenticity and the authenticating that he did.”
During the debacle in Houston when lawyers for the city’s mayor issued and then withdrew subpoenas for the sermons of a handful of pastors who were campaigning for the repeal of a nondiscrimination ordinance, Mike Huckabee was “outraged” that “pastors would be told to turn over their sermons.” He said this “trampling of religious liberty” was a violation of the First Amendment that reminded him of the government persecution of Christians in North Korea.
Now, it seems that Huckabee has changed his tune, telling “Trunews” host and far-right conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles yesterday that the government should have no qualms about monitoring mosques because Christian pastors would have no problem turning their sermons over to the government.
He went on to say that liberals are “protective” of Muslims, insisting that the government monitoring of houses of worship is “perfectly legitimate.”
“Is the left in an alliance with Islam because they both share a common enemy, or actually two common enemies, Christianity and Israel?” Wiles then asked.
“There is such an irrational position on the part of leftists,” he continued. “You have these positions that are supposedly so sacred to the people on the left, protecting abortion, protecting same-sex marriage, protecting homosexual rights, protecting transgenderism, well, go to Tehran and get out on the town square and make a big speech advocating transgender rights and let’s see how long you last in Tehran saying that or in Riyadh. You’re not going to live to tell about it. So it’s irrational to the point of almost being laughable that the left pretends to believe something but then everything they do is in violation of the things they claim that they believe.”
He went on to question why liberals believe it’s a “Christian responsibility” to accept Syrian refugees when they are waging war on Christmas and believe in the separation of church and state.
“It just shows how utterly duplicitous they are in all their views and what phony hypocrites they are,” he said, adding: “The left lives in la-la-land.”
Yesterday, Mike Huckabee spoke with “Trunews” host Rick Wiles about the massacre in San Bernardino, where he repeatedly pushed the now debunked claim that the two shooters posted praise for martyrdom and terrorism on social media.
When Wiles told Huckabee that liberals don’t care about the lives lost in San Bernardino, Huckabee claimed that liberals are “living in the Twilight Zone” and are only pushing stricter gun laws to allow the government to begin “controlling people” and “making people total servants of the state.”
Wiles: I don’t think the Left cares that 14 people were killed, I really don’t think they care.
Huckabee: They’re able to sock that away in a whole different dimension. It’s almost as if they’re living in the Twilight Zone. They can make a neat separation between reality and what their policies are and they don’t have to match. The reason they keep pushing for things like gun control even though gun control would not have stopped the San Bernardino killers, gun control wouldn’t have done anything to stop Sandy Hook, wouldn’t have stopped the Colorado shooter, you can go on and on.
Even though there’s no evidence whatsoever that the proposals they put forth would stop the very things they’re crying about, they keep putting it forth anyway because it’s not about protecting people, it’s not about — the real agenda, it’s about control, controlling people, making people total servants of the state and it’s a very dangerous political philosophy to adhere to.
Last month, Donald Trump appeared on “The Alex Jones Show,” where he told the right-wing pundit that he has an “amazing” reputation, unlike other journalists, whom Trump commonlyrefers to as “scum.” Among Jones’ many wild conspiracy theories is his belief that the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which took place three years ago today, was “staged” by the Obama administration.
Trump has not faced any criticism from his fellow Republicans for going on Jones’ program or for touting his work, despite the fact that Jones has been instrumental in pushing the harmful Sandy Hook conspiracy theory.
A 2013 Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found that “a quarter (25%) of Americans think that facts about the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary last year are being hidden and an additional eleven percent are unsure” and that “Republicans are more likely to think that the truth about Sandy Hook is being suppressed, with 32 percent agreeing.”
Sandy Hook truthers, who largely believe that the attack was faked as part of a government plot to push strict gun laws, are not alone in delivering twisted responses to the mass shooting. Others have used the massacre to attack gay marriage, the separation of church and state and, of course, gun laws.
WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush said that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza “positively reeked of what intelligence operatives I know would call the tell-tale signs of recruitment and conditioning,” and wondered if Lanza was the target of a government scheme to recruit “vulnerable individuals for psyops” to advance “their diabolical agenda.”
Renew America’s Austin Miles similarly suggested that the massacre was “purposely orchestrated” to “disarm all Americans to retard resistance,” writing that Lanza and others were “brainwashed into carrying out such deeds that would prove a point about private gun ownership and the threat to all families as a result.” Then, he said, there would be no opposition to Obama using an “Executive Order to declare himself president (dictator) for life.” Fellow Renew America pundit, Laurie Roth, claimed Obama “staged” the attack because he’s on a “mission to take assault weapons from the people.”
Radio host Rick Wiles stated that “Sandy Hook was timed to coincide with the political agenda of the socialist Democrats such as Barry Soetoro [Obama], Chuckie Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein to pass stringent federal gun control laws,” alleging that “the shooting event was timed to coincide with the gun control initiative.” Another conservative radio host, Bradlee Dean, likened the Sandy Hook killings to Adolf Hitler “attacking his own Reichstag to start a world war” and said that it was orchestrated to pass an arms control treaty.
The Tea Party-aligned National Liberty Foundation insisted that the “staged” massacre showed just “how far your president went to get your guns”: “He wants to be a dictator, he doesn’t want to get out of the White House and he loves spending your money.”
Many of their assertions relied heavily on discredited claims that “crisis actors” posed as grieving family members at the school and that one of the young victims later met with President Obama (she didn’t, it was her little sister).
One Republican congressman, Louie Gohmert, however, told a fan of his that he would watch a Sandy Hook conspiracy theory video because he’s “always learning new things.”
Religious Right’s Reaction
Several Religious Right activists responded to the Sandy Hook shooting by warning that the massacre was a sign that God is no longer protecting America, removing his hand of protection due to supposed societal ills such as gay marriage, abortion rights and the separation of church and state.
“Millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition,” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson lamented. “Believe me, that is going to have consequences too. And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.”
“We’ve taken God our of our school, we’ve taken him out of our government and now we seem shocked at all of these things,” Franklin Graham stated following the attack. “Why are we shocked? We shouldn’t be shocked. This is what happens when a society turns its back on God.” Author Joel Rosenberg said the shooting was one of the tragedies America is “reaping as a result of a society that increasingly ignores God,” specifically blaming comedian Jon Stewart for waging a “war on Christmas” and mocking conservatives.
One pastor said that a “gracious,” “merciful” and “loving” God decided not to intervene to prevent the shooting because it would “bring us back to our senses” and make people realize that God’s judgment “has really come by our turning away from the Lord.” Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio specifically blamed legal abortion and the lack of state-sponsored prayer for the attack, stating that God is a “gentleman” who “is not going to go where he is not wanted.”
Blocking background checks
Ted Cruz has proudly boasted of his role in successfully blocking a bipartisan Senate measure to expand background checks on gun purchases following the school shooting, bragging that unlike Republican “squishes,” he stood firm in opposing universal background checks. The Sandy Hook-affected families who supported the efforts, he said, were being used as “political props.”
National Rifle Association board member and musician Ted Nugent blamed the shooting on America’s “politically correct culture” and “‘anything goes’ value system” which “vilifies, condemns and mocks traditional societal values and customs at every opportunity,” while NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre delivered an unhinged speech against gun control measures, lashing out at the group’s critics, the entertainment industry, video games, the media and a lack of guns in schools.
But while nearly nine out of 10 Americans, including nine out of 10 gun owners, support more background checks, Republican lawmakers care more about the support they receive from groups like the NRA, and have done next to nothing to tackle the issue of gun violence in the wake of tragedies like Sandy Hook.
Instead, Republicans claimed that the government should focus on mental health and thentried to block access to mental health services.
Few if any of the GOP presidential candidates are offering any meaningful gun reform proposals, outside of their unwavering dogma: More guns.
Mike Huckabee onceagaininsisted that Supreme Court rulings are simply opinions that carry no legal authority if not for the “good will” and “assent” of the legislative and executive branches, this time making the case for defiance of the top court in an interview with Robert George on the Catholic television network EWTN this weekend.
If elected president, Huckabee said, he would “absolutely decline” to enforce the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision and order the Justice Department to “protect in every way the rights of those citizens who joined in disagreeing.”
“It’s a matter of saving our republic to say that as president, we’re not going to accept this decision, we will ignore it and we will not enforce it,” Huckabee said, adding that he would only recognize same-sex marriages in states that legalize same-sex marriage, or polygamy, for that matter, “by a vote of its people.”
When George asked if conservatives then “couldn’t criticize” President Obama for acting lawlessly “if he refused to enforce” recent Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance reform and gun control, Huckabee responded, “Well, no.” He said that if that were to happen, Congress should then exercise its power to impeach the president or defund the executive branch, seeming to open himself up to impeachment if he decided to defy the courts on same-sex marriage.
Today on Breitbart’s Sirius XM radio program, Mike Huckabee said that he will only support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. if they are placed in Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills.
Otherwise, Huckabee said, he would “put an absolute moratorium” on Syrian refugees since “we just don’t know, we’re getting people shot up in San Bernardino, California.” “I’m not blaming refugees for that,” he quickly added.
“I get the impression that President Obama is more interested in protecting the reputation of Islam than he is in protecting Americans,” he said.
Huckabee went on to say that there is no way to vet refugees, ignoring the fact that refugees actually go through a two-year vetting process.
In his condemnation of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Spring, Mike Huckabee suggested that while the attacker was wrong for killing people, Planned Parenthood does the same thing:
Mike Huckabee condemned the attack as a "despicable act of murder" and said "what he did is domestic terrorism," but then equated the killings to the abortions Planned Parenthood provides.
"There's no excuse for killing other people, whether it's happening inside the Planned Parent headquarters, inside their clinics, where many millions of babies die, or whether it's people attacking Planned Parenthood," Huckabee said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Huckabee’s comments reflects the mood of several anti-choice groups that have used the shooting, which left three people dead, as a way to attack Planned Parenthood and demand that the media cover “pro-abortion violence.”
During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children.
Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system for years until the Supreme Court finally refused to grant their appeal, only for the Department of Homeland Security to announce in 2014 that the Romeikes would be granted "indefinite deferred action status" and be allowed to remain in America.
But that is not the story Huckabee told during a discussion of education at the forum on Friday night. Instead, the former Arkansas governor declared that "every Christian believer in this country [should be] absolutely livid" over the fact that "this week, the Justice Department of the United States started deportation process against the Romeike family to send them back to Germany, which will take their kids from them."
"The very week the president wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them," Huckabee stated, "he wants to deport a Christian family."
Such an action, Huckabee insisted, is proof that "there is a war on the Christian faith in this country that is being carried out by this administration."
Given that the case of the Romeike family has been an important issue for the Religious Right for years, one would think that if the government had reneged on its pledge to allow them to remain in the country and begun the process of deporting them, that might have made some news.
But we have been utterly unable to find a single news article reporting this or a single piece of evidence to back up Huckabee's claim. We even called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been representing the Romeike family from the beginning, to ask if their organization had any knowledge of this and were informed that HSLDA is unaware of any steps taken by the DOJ to deport its clients.
At Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” hosted by the Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Mike Huckabee doubled down on his pledge to “ignore the court” and “defy the court” as president by recriminalizing abortion and gay marriage through executive fiats.
“I’m convinced the next president should ignore the unconstitutional and illegal rulings of the courts, including that of same-sex marriage, because it is not the law of the land,” Huckabee said.
He also reiterated his plan to outlaw abortion with a sweepingpresidentialdecree: “We [should] simply say, there will be no abortion because that unborn child is a person.”
Only then, Huckabee argued, would God be able to bless America.
Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.
The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”
As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.
Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:
Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.
Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.
A spokesperson for Huckabee, who at the event deflected a question about Swanson’s extremism, told Basu after viewing video of some of Swanson’s remarks that Huckabee “appreciated the opportunity” to speak at the conference. The Cruz and Jindal campaigns didn’t bother to reply at all. (Before the conference, Cruz had been asked about his participation by CNN’s Jake Tapper, but brushed off the question.)
Calls and emails seeking a reaction to Swanson's remarks by spokespeople for Cruz and Jindal (who suspended his campaign Tuesday) went unanswered. Huckabee’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart asked for documentation and was sent a video link. She responded the next day saying, "Gov. Huckabee appreciated the opportunity to speak with an audience in Iowa about the importance of standing up for our religious liberties."
Basu also reached out to The Family Leader, an influential Iowa conservative group that sponsored Swanson’s conference and will be hosting candidates for a “presidential family forum” later this week. A Family Leader spokesman at least went as far to say that the group doesn’t condone executing gay people, but didn’t comment on the wisdom of sponsoring Swanson’s conference:
Asked if Vander Plaats or the Family Leader condemn Swanson’s remarks, Drew Zahn, its director of communications wrote in an email: “The Family Leader absolutely condemns any call for violence against homosexuals. Our involvement with the conference was intended to advocate and preserve our First Amendment religious liberties and the rights of conscience for all Americans. The Family Leader consistently advocated the Bible's principle of treating others as you would be treated, a principle come to life in the friendship between TFL President Bob Vander Plaats and One Iowa's Donna Red Wing.”
But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.
We really wonder how long Cruz and Huckabee will be able to continue to plead ignorance about Swanson’s extremism after being asked about it repeatedly.
In an interview with Brietbart News’ Stephen Bannon on his Sirius XM program this morning, Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee insisted that the Obama administration wants to “protect Muslims and the reputation of Muslims more than they want to protect the United States.”
“So we have both Shia and Sunni radical Muslims, but this is an administration that doesn’t even want to say that they’re radical Muslims,” Huckabee said. “They just want to protect Muslims and the reputation of Muslims more than they want to protect the United States, and you cannot win a war if you don’t even identify your enemy.”
Alleging that the Democratic candidates were reluctant to use the term because “they want to be politically correct, they don’t want to offend anybody,” Huckabee said, “If you want to talk about offense, I’m offended that our government seems to want to protect the reputation of a radical religion more than it wants to protect American citizens.”
“When I go deer hunting, I’ve got to know the difference between a deer and a cow because if you don’t know your target, you’re likely to make a real mess of things,” he added. “This is a president who doesn’t know a deer from a cow, and he’s going out there and insulting Americans by making it as if there’s something wrong with us because we’re not just real excited about” bringing in refugees from the Syrian civil war.