Romney Skips Iowa Evangelical Event

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his first campaign stop to Iowa in months on Thursday. While the former Massachusetts governor says he wants to gain the support of Iowans, Romney did not attend an event with other candidates and 1,000 Iowa evangelical activists Saturday, the state’s “most potent conservative voting bloc” according to AP. CBS News on Romney’s no-show:

Despite claims that evangelicals have not warmed to Romney because of “flip-flopper” perceptions, Mitt still leads all other Republican presidential primary candidates in current Iowa polls. Ten weeks away from the state’s leadoff presidential caucus, Romney was in New Hampshire on Saturday. Romney’s campaign is leading national polls now as it was at the time of the last Iowa event he skipped, the Iowa straw poll which was won by Minnesotta Rep. Michele Bachmann. While much has changed since that poll; the rise and fall of Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry, exit of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and recent ascension of Herman Cain, Romney once again sits atop national polls.

Romney’s no-show may make it seem like the campaign does not feel welcome at events like the one Saturday night, but evangelical leaders say the invitation is genuine.  Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, insisted to CNN that it is not a “threatening environment.”

“Tell me what there is to fear by coming to this event?” Scheffler said. The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition hosted the presidential forum in Des Moines on Saturday that featured an estimated 1,000 attendees. Scheffler continued to express his frustrations to CNN:

“‘Tell me what there is to fear by coming to this event – to making their case?’ he continued. ‘Why have the six other candidates accepted and the perceived front-runner decided not to come?’

Saying that his group has ‘bent over backwards to tell [the Romney campaign] this is not a threatening environment,’ Scheffler said. ‘I have to conclude that they don’t feel comfortable in this arena.’”

While evangelicals who spoke with CBS said their reservations towards Romney had nothing to do with his Mormon faith, at the last social conservative event Romney attended two weeks ago, pastor Robert Jeffress compared Mormonism to a cult.

Do you think that Romney still has time to gain support from evangelical conservatives, and if his campaign even wants to?

Do you believe Romney has not gained support from Iowa conservatives because of “RomneyCare” and perceived flip-flops on social issues, or is there another explanation?