"DeSantis, Haley, and Ramaswamy: A Captivating Discussion on Family and Faith Unveiled in Iowa Roundtable"

Hosted by evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, roughly 800 Iowa Republican voters came to hear from candidates challenging former President Donald Trump.

"DeSantis, Haley, and Ramaswamy: A Captivating Discussion on Family and Faith Unveiled in Iowa Roundtable"
18 Nov 2023, 06:48 AM
twitter icon sharing
facebook icon sharing
instagram icon sharing
youtube icon sharing
telegram icon sharing
icon sharing
Republican Presidential Candidates in Iowa

Three Republican presidential candidates shared the stage in Iowa Friday night, as a key block of Iowa voters heard candidates weigh in on abortion, foreign policy and their faith, with less than two months to go before the caucus.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy spoke at a roundtable Friday moderated by influential evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats. And while the three have had combative exchanges on the debate stage, Friday's roundtable was polite and featured no crosstalk or insults.

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in Iowa and nationwide for the GOP nomination, was invited but did not attend.

Here are some of the takeaways from the latest Iowa cattle call.

Vivek Ramaswamy talks about wife's miscarriages

Ramaswamy became emotional as he talked about his wife Apoorva's miscarriage during the forum. It was the first time he has spoken publicly about it. She became pregnant during her medical residency and suffered a miscarriage three months into her pregnancy.

It devastated the couple, Ramaswamy said.

A couple, Ramaswamy and Apoorva, opened up about their personal experience with loss and faith. They shared that they had lost their first child, which was a devastating loss for their family. Apoorva, described as a strong and positive person, went through a period of depression after the loss. However, their faith helped them cope with the tragedy, as they believed that their child had joined their creator. They expressed their belief that one day, they would be reunited with their child.

Months later, the couple experienced another scare during Apoorva's second pregnancy. Fortunately, doctors were able to find a heartbeat, and their first son, Karthik, was born. Ramaswamy and Karthik attended the Thanksgiving Family forum together, where Ramaswamy shared their emotional story.

Ramaswamy acknowledged that it was difficult for him to share his wife's experience on the campaign trail. However, he believed that it was important for people to know who they are and what they stand for before making a choice.

In a surprising revelation, DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, also disclosed that his wife, Casey DeSantis, had experienced a miscarriage. They had initially struggled to conceive, but through prayer and faith, they eventually had their first baby girl.

Haley reaffirms her support for South Carolina's six-week abortion ban

During a roundtable discussion, Haley was asked to clarify her stance on abortion. This came after Vander Plaats raised concerns about her recent remarks, suggesting that they were too pro-choice.

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has reaffirmed her pro-life stance, emphasizing the need to focus on saving lives rather than pursuing a federal abortion bill. She acknowledged the lack of congressional support for such legislation, stating that it would require a majority in the House, 60 Senate votes, and the president's signature. Haley also stated that as governor, she would have signed a six-week abortion ban if that was the decision of the people.

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently upheld a six-week abortion ban signed by Governor Henry McMaster. Haley, while maintaining her pro-life stance, believes that the issue should be addressed in a way that does not further divide the country.

President Biden's campaign responded to Haley's comments, accusing her of being an "anti-abortion MAGA extremist" who aims to restrict women's freedoms.

DeSantis says Trump is a "high-risk" candidate

DeSantis says Trump is a "high-risk" candidate 

Asked by Vander Plaats why he didn't just "wait his turn" until after Trump was unable to run, DeSantis said Trump is a candidate who's "high risk with low reward."

He painted the former president as someone who cannot win in 2024 and didn't keep his promises in 2016. 

"I think as a lame duck with poor personnel and the distractions, it's going to be hard for him to get this done," said DeSantis, who has consistently trailed the former president by double digits in polling. 

"My candidacy is lower risk – because we'll run Biden ragged around this country – but high reward. Because you get a two-term conservative president who's going to stand for your values and deliver for you for eight full years," he added. 

DeSantis' comments echoed his usual critiques of Trump on the campaign trail, but he gave them Friday night in front of a bloc of 800 evangelical voters brought in by Vander Plaats, who may endorse DeSantis.

Vander Plaats has said he planned to use the event to make a final decision. After the event, he told CBS News the roundtable was "a lot to take in and process" from all the three candidates. He added after a private dinner his organization is hosting, he would talk with his team and advisers to make a final decision "soon."

Evangelical voters torn on the impact of impending Vander Plaats endorsement

Evangelical voters torn on the impact of impending Vander Plaats endorsement

Attendees praised Vander Plaats for putting faith-based issues at the center of the Republican primary race, but very few said his endorsement would have much impact on their choice. 

"We'll make up our own minds," said Doug Steel, a 58-year-old farmer in Anita, Iowa. 

"I'm not necessarily waiting for one person to say, 'Okay guys, let's go,'" said voter Rebecca Haynie. 

But Haynie, a 37-year-old small-business owner, thinks Vander Plaats' reach is important to the evangelical community and said that "there are a lot of people that think that the Family Leader is well-trusted."

Ed O'Neill, a 50-year-old banker from West Des Moines is one of those people. He is still undecided on who he will caucus for in January and is taking to heart notable endorsements in the primary.

"[Vander Plaats] is a brilliant person and he's done a lot for the community and for candidates across many years. So, it's certainly one input that I'll consider."