The Hill: Iowa conservative unveils new pledge for GOP candidates

This article first appeared online at The Hill on July 7, 2011.

Iowa conservative unveils new pledge for GOP candidates
By Michael O’Brien

An influential Iowa conservative will unveil a new pledge on Thursday for Republican presidential candidates, asking them to affirm socially conservative principles.

Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the group The Family Leader, is set to unveil a candidate pledge on Thursday morning in Iowa. Vander Plaats, the chairman of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign in Iowa, won’t endorse a 2012 Republican candidate if they don’t sign his pledge.

The pledge, called “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family,” includes 14 points, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The pledge mandates that candidates support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that the Obama administration has refused to defend in court, according to Fox News. It includes other elements, like a vow to appoint strict constructionists to the court.

The Vander Plaats pledge is yet another litmus test facing the GOP field. They’ve already been goaded by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to sign the “Cut, Cap and Balance” pledge, and many of them have signed Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

The Vander Plaats pledge is the second one oriented toward social conservatism; the Susan B. Anthony List asked the candidates to sign an anti-abortion rights pledge. The Iowa conservative’s endorsement could be particularly influential in next year’s caucuses, and could well attract signatories like other pledges.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) refusal to sign the SBA List pledge, citing concerns that it was overly broad and could have unintended consequences, prompted attacks from social conservatives and some other candidates.

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) has signed none of the above pledges, explaining that he wouldn’t agree to sign any of them.

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