God at the Grass Roots: The Christian Right in the 1994 Elections

By Mark J. Rozell; Clyde Wilcox | Go to book overview

10
Iowa: Everything Comes up Rosy

Jeremy D. Mayer and Bruce Nesmith

They asked him "Who are you going to vote for?"
When he told them George Bush, three of them
got down on their knees and started praying for
his soul.

— Rich Bond, Bush national
political director, in 1987,
referring to the Iowa Robertson
campaign

This is not about religion, this is about politics.

—D. J. Gribbin, Christian
Coalition national field
director in 1995

The story of the Christian Right's success in Iowa since Marion (Pat) Robertson's 1987 upset victory in the state's GOP straw poll is one of compromise, cooperation, and conquest. It is through following the dictum of Gribbin, to practice politics, rather than praying for the eternal souls of their political opponents, that the Christian Coalition and its allies in Iowa achieved such sweeping influence within the state and the Iowa Republican Party. As shown by Bond's comment, there has always existed the potential for conflict between traditional Republican forces in Iowa and the Christian Rightists. Following the shock of Robertson's triumph in 1987, the Christian Right has strengthened and evolved in Iowa, learning when to fight and when to negotiate. Their successes include the 1994 reelection of a prominent ally in Governor Branstad, the acquisition of all five Iowa house seats for the Republicans with the defeat of powerful incumbent Neal Smith in 1994, the 1992 defeat of a

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