Presidential Contenders Pitch to Iowa Evangelicals

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The 2012 presidential campaign hasn't officially begun yet, but there are plenty of people testing the waters.

Many of them were in Iowa Monday for the Faith and Freedom Coalition event. They were there to court a crucial bloc of voters -- evangelicals.

Five Republican hopefuls made their political pitches to swoon voters in Iowa -- a state renowned for launching presidential campaigns.

Their back-to-back speeches shared two overall prevailing themes -- criticizing what they called President Barack Obama's "leftist" agenda and honoring America's religious history and values.

Click play to watch John Jessup's report followed by analysis from CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody.

"We need to remember that the Constitution of the United States was, is, designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith," former Gov. Tim Palenty, R-Minn., said.

Their speeches touched on issues that included marriage, energy policy and controversial subsidies, and proven moral leadership.

"For the President of the United States to order the Justice Department to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act... that was not right," Herman Cain, former chief executive officer of Godfather's Pizza, said.

"Ethanol takes four rows out of ten of every cornfield," former Gov. Charles Roemer, R-La., said. "Four rows out of ten that doesn't go to hungry people or necessary people. This is not right!"

"It's one thing to stand in front of a group and talk about all the things that you believe in," former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., said. "It's another thing to go out and lead and fight for those beliefs."

The event gave the Republicans a chance to connect with evangelicals in Iowa and explain how and when religion and politics ought to intersect.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who launched his exploratory committee last week, painted a picture of what his first day in the Oval Office might look like.

Gingrich suggested he would reinstate former President Ronald Reagan's policy to prevent American taxpayer money from funding abortions in other countries.

He also stressed the idea of limited government.

"You are personally sovereign," Gingrich said. "You loan power to the government. The government does not loan power to you."

Former Govs. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., Mitt Romney, R-Mass. and Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, did not attend the event.

However, this is just one of many events to come.

With 60 percent of Iowa caucus voters describing themselves as evangelical Christians, candidates likely won't pass up the chance to connect with this crucial voting bloc.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.