GOP Contenders Try to Win Over Iowa Evangelicals
Major forum tonight could be pivotal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2011 10:40 AM CDT
Rick Perry, center left, walks to a truck Saturday before a hunting trip near Merrill, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
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(Newser) – This could be a big night for the Republican candidates, notes the Des Moines Register: A major evangelical forum takes place in Des Moines, which might prove pivotal in getting Christian conservatives to rally behind a single candidate. As the Los Angeles Times explains, the political calculus in Iowa is fairly straightforward: It's just about impossible to win here without evangelical support. Just ask Mitt Romney about Mike Huckabee's victory in 2008.

Toward that end, the campaigning here tends to focus on things like abortion and gay rights, with the candidates trying to outflank each other on the right. Bachmann and Santorum have been the most aggressive, says the LAT, but Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul also generate interest. Romney is generally seen as too moderate in Iowa, but he could benefit in the long run if support for the others remains fractured. (He will be a no-show at tonight's forum.) One factor that could be pivotal in the state: the endorsement of conservative Rep. Steve King.