I was very surprised to read this morning that Mitt Romney refused to participate in a debate in Iowa moderated by Frank Luntz for The FAMILY Leader.
What was he thinking?
From reports this morning it sounds like he (who frankly seems rather like an automaton), missed a very important event that allowed some of the other candidates to shine and show their softer sides—not to mention their appeal to social conservatives so important in the primary base.
Here is a report from ABC (hat tip: Karen) about what appears to have been an excellent debate (sans the Mormons in the campaign—Romney and Huntsman):
DES MOINES, Iowa — A gathering of religious conservatives in Iowa tonight turned into one of the most emotional moments of the 2012 primary season when two presidential candidates — Herman Cain and Rick Santorum — both fought back tears while telling personal stories about the most challenging moments in their lives.
You will have to read the article to see their personal stories. Then here is the zinger from the forum’s organizer—Bob Vander Plaats— aimed directly at Mitt Romney:
The candidates were seated around a large wooden table adorned with pumpkins at the event, billed as the Thanksgiving Family Forum. The two-hour long session, which did not include Mitt Romney who was campaigning in Iowa tonight, was moderated by Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
Before the candidates took the stage, prominent Iowa social conservative and political figure Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the Family Leader, predicted that “the next president of the United States will present to you tonight.”
Romney not smart enough to be President!
So what was the back story? Here from Talking Points Memo is more on Romney dissing social conservatives and Vander Plaats letting him have it!
After basically begging Romney to attend his forum, Vander Plaats lashed out at him after Romney — and C-SPAN — pulled out.
“Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” Vander Plaats told Fox, according to the Des Moines Register. “This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president.”