imageThree prospective 2012 presidential candidates were in Des Moines yesterday and they were courting Iowa’s homeschoolers: Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) were able to speak to a group of 800 homeschooling parents and students at an event hosted by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators.  This followed a rally at the Iowa Statehouse with as many as 1000 homeschoolers present at the Capitol.

Congressman Paul spoke first.  His message of personal liberty resonated with the group gathered as the primary goal of homeschoolers this year is to simplify Iowa’s homeschooling laws to get government out of the way so parents can educate their children how they see fit.  He received applause when he said, “if we strictly followed the constitution we wouldn’t have a Department of Education.”  He also stated (to applause) that “government shouldn’t interfere with parents.”

He also reminded the group that he has sponsored a bill which would give every family that spends money on education outside of the school system (whether on curriculum for homeschoolers or tuition for private school families) a $5000 per child tax credit.

imagePaul said the goal of public education is no longer to educate, but to indoctrinate.  He also lamented the federal encroachment into education blaming both parties for taking us in the wrong direction in a bipartisan manner.

He followed federal Judge William Wagner who warned the group about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Paul reminded the group that he introduced a bill that would provide a remedy for that – getting us out of the United Nations altogether.

He said the thing he likes the most out of the homeschool movement is that kids are being taught a respect for the rule of law and the Constitution.  He also encouraged the moral education that happens at the home, “laws are important, but moral values are more important as the law reflects those.”

Herman Cain came with a singular message – “Get government out of the way.”  He told the group that we need to get government out of the way, so we can educate our children the way we want to.  He said we need empowerment, not entitlement from our government.

He said that people who are addicted to entitlement rather than empowerment have lost the ability to pursue the American Dream.  He then talked about his Dad’s pursuit of the American Dream sharing how he went to school in a one-room school house… which he said, “this was homeschooling before it was cool.”  He said that his Dad never went to college, but received in that schoolhouse a PhD in common sense.

He talked about how his Dad worked three jobs in order to pursue the American Dream of owning a “whole house” (Cain grew up in a duplex).  He worked to help Cain pursue his American Dream.  Cain earlier said, “God wants us to dream and achieve our dreams in the greatest country in the world.”  He also noted that our country didn’t start with inspired atheists.  He asked, “What country did they start?”

Cain briefly shared about his experience as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and later on the National Restaurant Association.  He said, “My great-great grandparents were slaves, and today I stand here as a potential presidential candidate.”  He noted only here would be able to pursue his American Dream.

He called on the group to become the “defending fathers” of our country.

Congresswoman Bachmann was next.  She took time to introduce herself as a native Iowan and that she is a 7th generation Iowan.  She noted that she is also 100% Norwegian, so that makes her “Iowegian.”  She and her husband Marcus also homeschooled.  They have five natural born children, and were the foster parents for 23 kids, she said that makes her “the old lady in the shoe.”

She congratulated Iowans on ousting three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices calling them “black-robed masters.”  She was appalled at their audacity to redefine marriage, and said that as State Senator she offered a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man, one woman in Minnesota.  That was sparked by what she saw happening in Massachusetts when their supreme court dictated to the Legislature what law they must pass to make gay marriage legal in that state.

She said that she was the first Republican woman to be elected to go to Washington out of Minnesota.  She qualified that, “I’m not just a Republican, I’m a way conservative.”  She joked that Washington still doesn’t know what to do with her.

She said that she has been prolife since she was 19 having been impacted by the teaching of Francis Schaeffer in college.  She also said that exercises her 2nd Amendment rights, and has a carry permit.  She noted that she grew up in a house where they made their own shotgun shells in the basement, and took her first gun safety course when she was 12.

She said, “I may be 5-foot-2 and wearing a yellow suit, but I am one tough lady when it comes to protecting our freedoms.”  To great applause she said, “we will make Barack Obama a one-term president.  We will repeal Obamacare.  She said that we have a brief window of opportunity in 2012.  She said we need to run up to 60 seats in the Senate.  She proclaimed, “I am in for 2012 to make sure that torch of liberty is not extinguished on our watch.”

She explained after the speech that she meant she’s “in it for 2012” to help beat Obama, it wasn’t an announcement of a presidential run.  She said that she’ll decide in June whether or not to run.  State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) is an early supporter, and he said, “I hope she does run.  I think she will.”  Another homeschooling parent that I spoke with said, “she’s the real deal,” but was quick to mention that she like aspects of what each candidate who spoke.

Personally, after listening to Congresswoman Bachmann’s speech I felt that was the first true campaign speech I heard today.  Cain’s was good, but Bachmann’s covered a wider range and you definitely had the feel that she was selling herself to the group.  She does have the potential to do very well among homeschoolers specifically, and evangelicals in particular.

I have the chance to ask her about her 2012 intentions today in a one-to-one exclusive interview, so be sure to check back.

*Photos by Dave Davidson, you can find more of Dave’s work here.

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