PLANO—Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition hosted six GOP presidential candidates, who shared their vies on a variety of topics, during the North Texas Presidential Forum at the megachurch, Oct. 18. Senior Pastor Jack Graham moderated the event, conducting individual interviews with Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush.
The following are highlighted comments given by the candidates on key topics.
Conservative Values/Reasons for Running
Fiorina: “We’re going to have to have that fight for what conservative values really mean.”
Cruz: “We all came out here this afternoon because we recognize that our country is in crisis. People are waking up. We are seeing an awakening—a spirit of revival across this country.”
Santorum: Santorum encourages voters to “go back and look at the record.” Find people who “stand by what they believe, hire people who share values.”
Huckabee: Why run? Huckabee says 8 years ago, because of his children. Today, because he has 5 grandkids. Doesn’t want to leave them charred remains of great country.
Carson: I finally just said, Lord, this is not on my bucket list, but if it’s really something you want me to do, I will. A lifetime of experiences is what prepares him to be president.
Bush: “There are things that are broken, but we have to fix them. To advocate … so strong families are most powerful political institutions in our society and we solve problems locally.” The next president is “going to have to fight for religious freedom with his heart and soul.”
Role of Faith
Fiorina: “I’ve been tested. I’ve battled breast cancer, have buried a child. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ has seen me through. Here’s what I believe: People of faith make better leaders.”
Santorum: “Now some of you may know I’m a Catholic, but I’m an evangelical Catholic.”
Carson: Talked about realizing his options, as a hot-tempered young man, were jail, reform school or the grave. “God fixed my temper. That’s why I have this calm demeanor that people mistake as softness. It’s not softness. It’s just the ability to look at things from lots of perspectives and not get angry about it.”
Bush: Says he began reading the Bible cover to cover, and by the time he reached Romans “realized Jesus Christ was my Savior.”
Cruz: “I believe 2016 is going to be a religious liberty election. This is an issue that really separates a number of the candidates running on the GOP side. Some say accept, surrender, move on.”
Carson: Talked about America as the most free nation in the world, “or it used to be,” he said.
Huckabee: “If you can put a county clerk in jail, who’s next? You know who’s next? You are,” Huckabee said to Graham. “And every other pastor…”
Fiorina: The person occupying the office of president “must not be silent regarding persecuted Christians in the Middle East.”
Bush: “Who is going to take care of religious persecution but America?”
War on Women
Fiorina: “I will never ask for your vote or your support because I am a woman, although I am proud to be one.”
Huckabee: “The only people who should be blamed for 9/11 are the monsters who trained and planned to kill Americans.”
Santorum: “Look around. … There’s no doubt this world is getting much more hostile and violence is on the rise. Seven months ago, I was in ISIS Magazine. ISIS knows who I am. Iran knows who I am. and when I am sworn in, our enemies will know who they have to deal with.”
Huckabee: “For the president to say that our greatest threat is climate change is like saying the greatest threat we face is sunburn and not a beheading, and that is nonsense.”
Santorum: “What’s missing in today: someone who knows how to lead, not someone who knows how to go before cameras and scream and holler.”
Huckabee: “No greater preparation to run for public office than to be a pastor. … Rather than being a disadvantage, it’s the biggest advantage. The next president needs to know he doesn’t know everything. The most dangerous man in the room is the man who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Knowledge can be Googled. Wisdom comes from above.”
Carson: “Some people think political leadership is for a certain class, but I believe it’s for citizen statesmen.”
Bush: We need to require leadership—not by preying on people’s angst. We are on the verge of greatness, but a lot of tough work is ahead.
Santorum: “The Bible talks about helping the poor; it doesn’t give that role to government.” He believes Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, etc. are all “creating a problem by infusing themselves and creating a dependency.”
Sanctity of Life
Huckabee: “How can we ask God to bless a nation that for 42 years has ended the lives of 60 million unborn children? This is not just a social aberration. This is an uncivilized savagery of which we must repent.”
Carson: “Life begins at conception. There’s no way anybody’s ever going to convince me that is a mass of cells and isn’t a human being.”
Huckabee: “The only ally we have that is reliable in that region is Israel. I’ve known Netanyahu for 20 years. They have always believed the USA would be one country that would have their back.”