The FAMiLY LEADER "Thanksgiving Family Forum" Nov. 19, 2011
PRESS RELEASES from The FAMiLY LEADER (see post-forum releases below)


Pollster Frank Luntz to Moderate The Thanksgiving Family Forum for Republican Presidential Candidates

Discussion to surround issues impacting American families

Pleasant Hill, IOWA. – The FAMiLY LEADER, in conjunction with CitizenLink (the family advocacy arm of Focus on the Family) and the National Organization for Marriage, is pleased to announce that political pollster, Dr. Frank Luntz, will moderate the “Thanksgiving Family Forum – A Family Discussion with the Republican Candidates” on Saturday, Nov. 19. The forum will take place in Des Moines, Iowa at First Federated Church from 4:00-6:00 p.m.  

The FAMiLY LEADER has received event confirmations from Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. Invitations were sent to those candidates who finished in the top 5 of The Iowa Straw Poll or who polled 5 percent or above in the RealClearPolitics Poll as of Aug. 28. 

The forum’s goal is to allow Iowans an opportunity to further vet the candidates on matters related to the family. “This is not a debate,” said Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Our purpose is simply to learn about their worldviews and to listen to their hearts on key family issues. The discussion will allow us to see a more personal side of the candidates.”   

“We are thrilled that Frank Luntz has agreed to team up with us for the forum,” said Vander Plaats. “We believe his unique style, audience participation, and expertise in communication will drive the discussion in a direction unlike any other forum or debate.” 

Luntz, a top political pollster, is one of the most respected communication professionals in America today. He is also the author of The New York Times best seller, Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.”

Concerning the Nov. 19 Thanksgiving Family Forum, Luntz said, “My responsibility is to deliver a wholly different kind of discussion from the standard debate-by-podium forum. The American people want to know more than which candidate ‘debates best.’ They want to get past the pre-programmed sound bites and zingers to the real person. Voters want to know how the candidates feel. How they view the world. What is in their hearts.”

“I want to go deeper; to engender discussion on the great cultural issues of our time,” continued Luntz. “I promise this won’t be like anything you’ve ever seen. No gotcha questions by the panel. No spin by the politicians. Just an authentic discussion among the people who seek to lead this great nation. It has the potential to be the most important forum of the primary presidential campaign.”

The FAMiLY LEADER expects 2,500-plus attendees who represent a large influential segment of Iowa caucus-goers. They also anticipate all 99 counties in Iowa will be represented by key organizational and faith leaders. Statewide and national media coverage is expected.

For more information about The FAMiLY LEADER or the event, visit its web site at  

Contact: Julie Summa                             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, September 2
CitizenLink and National Organization for Marriage Co-Sponsors for Event
Pleasant Hill, IA – The FAMiLY LEADER, in conjunction with CitizenLink (A Focus on the Family Affiliate) and the National Organization for Marriage, will host the Thanksgiving Family Forum – A Family Discussion With the Republican Candidates on Saturday, November 19th.  The forum will take place in Des Moines, Iowa at First Federated Church.   
The timing of this forum, less than three months before the Iowa caucuses, is critical both to Iowans who are vetting the candidates and the candidates who are making their case for the Republican nomination.  
Tom Minnery, Executive Director of CitizenLink, says, “We are privileged to partner with The FAMiLY LEADER to offer this important forum to advance the discussion in this extremely relevant election cycle.  It is more important today than it has ever been to elect a president who fairly represents the family values that Americans hold dear.”
The FAMiLY LEADER has invited Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.  Bachmann, Cain, Paul, and Santorum are confirmed for the event.  Invitations were sent to those candidates who finished in the top five at The Iowa Straw Poll or who polled 5% or above in the  Real Clear Politics poll as of August 28th. 
The purpose of the Thanksgiving Family Forum is to allow Iowans an opportunity to further vet the candidates in a setting friendly to issues affecting the family.  The FAMiLY LEADER expects 2,500+ attendees who represent a large influential segment of Iowa caucus-goers.    The FAMiLY LEADER also anticipates all 99 counties of Iowa to be represented by key organizational and faith leaders.  
“We were intentional about selecting the weekend before Thanksgiving in the hope of giving Iowans something to discuss at the Thanksgiving dinner table,” says Bob Vander Plaats, President & CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER.  “Iowans are politically savvy and they understand the importance of this selection process and the impact it will have on our nation.”
Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, says, “The Thanksgiving Family Forum will elevate issues like marriage to the forefront of Iowans’ minds and create the conversations necessary to help select the next president of the United States.”
The FAMiLY LEADER is a Christian conservative organization which provides a consistent, courageous voice in the churches, in the legislature, in the media, in the courtroom, in the public square…always standing for God’s truth in order to strengthen the family. 
Contact:  Julie Summa

November 19, 2011

Gov. Perry Shares Staunch Commitment to Conservative Values 

At Thanksgiving Family Forum

DES MOINES, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry today participated in the Presidential Thanksgiving Family Forum, hosted by the Family Leader, where he reiterated his principled and longstanding commitment to conservative values.

"I am a faithful, fiscal and social conservative of conviction, not of convenience," said Gov. Perry. "As Governor of the State of Texas, I have signed more pro-life legislation than any governor in my state's history and championed and signed the Texas Defense of Marriage Act.  Traditional family values are important to me, to the people of Iowa and to citizens and future of our nation. America needs to reenergize limited government, entrepreneurship and the traditional values that helped us become the greatest, most prosperous nation in history."  

Gov. Perry is a staunch defender of life, having signed more pro-life legislation than any other governor in Texas history. He most recently demonstrated his commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn in his Uproot and Overhaul Washington plan, in which he pledged to eliminate the federal funding of organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. He supported this same measure in Texas' most recent legislative session by signing important legislation, Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 1, which contain provisions prohibiting tax dollars from funding abortions.

Gov. Perry strongly supports traditional marriage. He signed the Defense of Marriage Act in Texas in 2003, and supported enshrining this law in the Texas Constitution, a measure approved by voters in 2005, which defines marriage in Texas as a union between one man and one woman. He has also pledged to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that legally defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. 

As a life-long hunter and concealed handgun license holder, Gov. Perry has been a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights. During his tenure in Texas, he has signed "Castle Doctrine" legislation ensuring that citizens have the right to defend themselves in their homes instead of retreating. He has also worked to prevent local governments from infringing upon Texans' rights to have legally concealed weapons on public property, cut concealed handgun license (CHL) renewal fees for military, veterans and senior citizens, and labored to protect shooting ranges from expensive, frivolous lawsuits as part of his tort reform efforts. 

Last Tuesday, Gov. Perry announced his Uproot and Overhaul Washington plan, which would establish a part-time, citizen Congress, cut congressional salaries, end lifetime appointments of federal judges, issue an immediate moratorium on new and pending federal regulations, and dismantle wasteful, redundant federal agencies.

Gov. Perry has unveiled other bold and conservative policies in recent weeks, including his Cut, Balance and Grow plan and his Energizing American Jobs and Security plan. Cut, Balance and Grow cuts personal and corporate tax rates to a lower, flat 20 percent rate, cuts federal spending, ends earmarks and corporate loopholes and calls for a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. Energizing American Jobs and Security will create up to 1.2 million jobs in every sector, reduce our nation's dependence on hostile foreign oil, revitalize manufacturing and help contain the cost of electricity and fuel.

The Presidential Thanksgiving Family Forum, hosted by the Family Leader, included discussion among GOP presidential candidates about the conservative values Americans have long cherished. The forum was moderated by Dr. Frank Luntz, with faith leaders and socially conservative activists from counties across the state of Iowa in attendance. Citizen Link and the National Organization for Marriage served as keynote sponsors. 

For more information about Gov. Perry's record, presidential campaign and plan to get America working again, please visit:


Urbandale, IA - At this afternoon's FAMiLY Leader Thanksgiving Family Forum, the winner was clearly the voters.


Senator Santorum said: "When given the opportunity to have a real discussion between candidates, the voters had the opportunity to see into each of our hearts and minds. A great thanks is owed to the FAMiLY Leader, Frank Luntz, and all the organizers of this event for giving each of us at the table the opportunity to show the voters who we are, what shapes our conscience, and what drives our passion for making America the greatest nation in the history of the World. It is clear that each of us would be better than President Obama, and after tonight, the voters don't have to make that judgment based off of just sound-bites."


During this afternoon's forum in Des Moines, Senator Santorum made the following points:


On The Number One Thing Missing In America

"America is a country founded on the concept that our rights come to us from our creator and when God gives us rights, he has laws that we must abide by. We have civil laws that must comport with the higher laws. And as long as abortion is legal, we are not (comporting with the higher laws)."


On Who He Is Accountable To:

"When I was elected, I knew I had a constituency of one - God."


On Why Some Are Afraid Of Talking About Faith:

"The Left has taken over the culture... We all have an obligation, all of us, not just those of us on stage, to engage the culture (to take it back)."


On The 10th Amendment:

"Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, states do not have the right to do wrong. Some on this stage said they will not get involved (in states' rights to allow gay marriage). I will. States do not have the right. America... is a set of morals and ideals. The President has an obligation to work in the states. I was the only one who came to Iowa (to campaign) to defeat those justices (who redefined marriage) because it was that important."


On Activist Courts:


I would go one step further, I would abolish the entire 9th Circuit. And the idea that the Third Branch, Article 3 - the least important because it's last - could be unchecked is something our Founders would be astounded by. I haven't just detailed a plan though, I've done something. When I was in the Senate, I stood up and told Court they were wrong. When they struck down the (Nebraska) partial birth abortion ban, I worked with the House to draft an almost identical bill, where the first two sections (of the bill) told the Court why they were wrong and that we (the Congress) have an equal right to say what's constitutional and the Supreme Court upheld our law. That's a track record of standing up to the court, not just a plan.


On The Need For A Federal Marriage Amendment:

"If you look at Roe versus Wade, you had a variety of states who legalized the right to an abortion. The pro-life movement didn't have its act together and didn't fight in the states.   Eventually one of these laws went to Supreme Court and they said you needed uniform laws. This is exactly what will happen with same sex marriage unless we fight it right now. I am for a Federal Marriage Amendment. I authored it, I forced the only vote on it. I'm all for doing it. But we need to stop this problem like we have here in Iowa. Get it on the ballot. We have to fight the battles in the states, we cannot defer, we cannot rest on the 10th Amendment... Without the institution of marriage our country will fall."


On The Role Of Education:

"The education system is fundamentally broken. Period. The reason it is broken is because it is a system designed over 100 years ago to educate "children" - at large. We should have an education system that focuses on the customer and the educational establishment says that customer is not the parent. The customer IS the parent because it is the parent's responsibility to educate their children. We homeschool and we think that's best for us, not saying that necessarily for everyone. We need a system to work with each parent to design an educational experience for each child to give them the best possible chance. How many are only concerned with academic achievement? But that's all we measure. It is broken. The only way we get around it is to customize the system. And don't tell me there's not enough money, because it's already spent on the institution not the parents and what is best for their child."

To learn more about former Senator Rick Santorum, please visit

Bachmann Unequivocal on Conservative Principles at Thanksgiving Family Forum

Des Moines, Iowa –Republican presidential candidates gathered tonight at the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa to discuss the conservative values upon which our country was founded. Michele Bachmann, the consistent conservative in the GOP race, was unwavering on her principles to defend life, uphold the Constitution, and return America to prosperity.

As the debate began, Bachmann commented on the need for religious leaders to be empowered to preach from the pulpit about political principles that have an effect on faith and the family. Bachmann cited the lasting impact of Senator Lyndon Johnson's 1954 amendment to a revenue bill as an example of the political censorship of preachers when she said, "We silence the pastors because of a law that Lyndon Johnson put into effect in the 1950s – because he didn't want them to say something against him. What I would do is back the repeal of that law so that we could exercise First Amendment rights everywhere including in this church and every pulpit."

Bachmann, asserting her biblical worldview, shared the role her faith plays in governing her actions and the actions she would pursue as president; "[God] created every aspect of life and he has something to say about every aspect of life so my view of the world is a biblical worldview where I want to see what he has to say about it, because he wrote the owner's manual so to speak.  Now people may choose not to go along with a biblical worldview. I do."

She was unequivocal in applying her worldview when the subject turned to the value of life. "Every human being is made in the image and the likeness of the holy God.  And every human being deserves and needs that protection from our federal government.  I will stand for it," Bachmann said.

Bachmann was quick to emphasize, however, that Obamacare doesn't afford those protections to the unborn because for the first time in U.S. history, taxpayers will effectively subsidize abortion as a result of the law. "The new playground of the left is in Obamacare because Planned Parenthood now will be pushing chemical abortion and billing that to the federal government under preventative care," Bachmann said. "This is the only election and the only chance we have to repeal Obamacare.  That's why this is the issue, and we have to have a candidate, and I am, that is committed to the full-scale repeal of Obamacare.  We can't get it wrong."

When moderator Frank Luntz asked each candidate to discuss the personal experiences that have shaped their lives, Bachmann poignantly shared how her financial struggles and close family bond molded the woman she is today. As a young girl, Bachmann's parents divorced and her family dropped below the poverty level. But her mother told her, "It's hard now, but we are going to hold on and we are going to get through this, we are going go be okay." 

Bachmann and her brothers got jobs to help their mother; paying for the essentials they needed like glasses and school lunches. She credits that experience now as one that helped define her work ethic -- "It taught me the value of a dollar, and that necessity is the mother of invention.  That no one owes me a living and an honest days work is an honest day's pay.  And that true work is your bond. All those enervating animating principles really are the basis of the country."

When the subject turned to a marriage amendment, Bachmann was clear on her stance of marriage being between one man and one woman when she said, "I carried and championed the marriage amendment when I was a state senator in Minnesota.  Even after I left to go to Congress, I continued to work with my successors, and after seven years of perseverance, and a very unlikely state, we successfully passed it through the legislature. "

As president, Bachmann promised to champion the definition of marriage when she stated, "I will get behind legislation in Congress and I will also get behind the federal marriage amendment I will do whatever it takes because the first and foremost unit of government in this nation is the family."

Focusing on the family, Bachman addressed the need for more family intervention in education. "What we want to do is make sure that we don't have the federal government involved in education. We want to make sure that education stays as close to the family as we can," Bachmann said. "We need to empower every parent in the United States to be able to have true education choice for their child."

To close the Forum, Luntz directed each candidate to offer his or her perspective on war. Offering her stance and critiquing President Obama's lack of leadership on foreign policy issues, Bachmann declared, "The No.1 duty of commander in chief is to secure the safety of the American people.  And in order to [go to war], I have to be convinced as commander in chief that we have a clearly defined American vital interest in that area.  And I need to know that we also have a clear mission to go forward.  We have a plan and an exit strategy. And when we go in, I will commit overwhelming force and then we get out."

Bachmann emphasized during the Forum the vital nature of the 2012 election, as it will define our growth and competitiveness both domestically and internationally. "This election is bigger than Republican, Democrat and Independent," Bachmann affirmed. "This election is going to be the whole country coming together to save America.  And that's what I'm excited about."