It Wasn’t a Debate … It Was Better

November 21

It Wasn’t a Debate … It Was Better

This year’s most unique and revealing presidential campaign event was held in downtown Des Moines on Friday. Family Policy Alliance joined with our Iowa ally, The Family Leader, for the Thanksgiving Family Forum – a roundtable conversation with the leading Republican presidential candidates, based on polling.

In recent weeks, the Republican National Committee objected to the Forum on the grounds that it was a non-sanctioned debate. But the RNC dropped its opposition after agreeing with The Family Leader’s CEO, Bob Vander Plaats, that the Forum wasn’t a debate, but rather a unique opportunity to get to know what makes the candidates tick.

Approximately 800 people crowded in to hear from three of the four leading Republican candidates:Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ambassador Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Donald Trump was invited but declined to attend.

What they heard included revealing glimpses into the candidates’ lives. For example, all three candidates, led by Gov. DeSantis, shared personal stories about difficult situations, including miscarriages, that shaped their convictions on the sanctity of life.

They also answered challenging questions:

  • Ramaswamy was asked about his Hinduism and the source of “truth” that is the tagline of his campaign. He welcomed the question, saying that it was the first time on the campaign trail that he had a chance to delve into his Hindu beliefs.
  • Haley went into detail about her statements on abortion in the last debate that some interpreted as espousing a pro-choice position, which she strongly contests.
  • DeSantis answered the charge that he should “wait his turn” and not run until 2028.

C-SPAN carried the Forum live. To watch the full discussion or select clips, click here.

John Paulton
Vice President, State Alliances

P.S. The Family Leader is one of 40 state groups that Family Policy Alliance hosts and serves. That includes groups we added this year in two more states, Maryland and Oklahoma. To find the group in your state, click here.