WAUKEE, Iowa, March 8 (UPI) -- Potential Republican presidential hopefuls touted their conservative bona fides during an Iowa event marking the unofficial start of the state's caucus season.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, and radio talk-show host and former politician Herman Cain touched on hot-button social issues during Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's presidential forum Monday, Politico reported.
"This is the first significant event of the caucus season and you're turnout tonight says you are very interested in making some change," Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the crowd in Waukee before the speeches began.
"If you turn your backs on the pro-family, pro-life constituency," national Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed said, "you will be consigned to permanent minority status."
Gingrich, the biggest name at the event, ripped President Obama, saying the president is indebted to the "secular, socialist left" and that a change must come.
"I think that we are at a crossroads that we cannot hide from," said Gingrich, who launched a Web site last week to help determine whether there was enough support to back a possible presidential run.
Pawlenty said the Constitution was written "to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith." However, he committed a faux pas when he mistakenly identified Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition leader Steve Scheffler as "Chuck" more than once but corrected himself at the end of his speech, Politico said.
Santorum spoke about his stance against abortion.
The five hopefuls weren't the only ones in Iowa Monday. Rep. Ron Paul spoke at the Iowa Family Leader's speech series in three communities and an adviser to Donald Trump met with a number of GOP activists, Politico reported.