Junkie: Iowa Edition

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He's finally addressing his faith... Source: Rick Gershon/Getty hide caption

toggle caption Source: Rick Gershon/Getty

This week on the Political Junkie segment: one day after NPR's Democratic candidates debate in Iowa, a look back at what happened. And a look ahead to tomorrow's speech in Texas by Mitt Romney, who will address issues about faith — specifically, his Mormon faith, which has unnerved many southern Protestant/Evangelical voters. Skirmishes between Hillary and Obama; is Edwards back to his "nice guy" role of 2004? And more about the new intelligence report about Iran, and how it affects the campaign. And a new trivia question.



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I don???t think ???God??? should be guiding decisions of elected officials and I wish all the candidates were atheist so that we could moves past this point of immaterial.

Sent by Joey (Phoenix, AZ) | 2:12 PM | 12-5-2007

Re; NPR's radio debate between Democrat candidates for President. Refreshing, informative, an almost real debate. No audience to applaude innane ideas or interrupt thoughts.

Sent by Mary Westcott | 2:13 PM | 12-5-2007

Political Junkie

Do you think that Senator Clinton's yes vote on the Kyl Lieberman amendent will hurt her? How will Senator Obama's absence during that vote hurt him? They both lost me on this critical issue.

Edwards is not taking pac money.

Sent by Kathleen | 2:13 PM | 12-5-2007

It's hard for me to understand why Faith is such an issue regarding one's vote for a candidate. I would like a candidate who uses rational thought, not voices from a 'god'. And which god is acceptable and which isn't?
Illegal immigration is this year's distraction issue from the real issues that need to be addressed. Before it was gay marriage. How is it actually affecting most Americans? I suggest it's very little.

Sent by Holly H. | 2:17 PM | 12-5-2007

I am a Democrat and always have been. I think the Democratic candidates are making a huge tactical error by addressing the illegal immigration issue with the idea most citizens favor ammnesty for the people who came here illegally. I do not and I want a better solution.

Sent by Tom | 2:19 PM | 12-5-2007

Former Senator John Edwards is not taking any Pac's money. Are there any other candidates following his lead?

Sent by kathleen | 2:19 PM | 12-5-2007

Clearly US foreign policy cannot change on a dime, but do you believe that in the coming weeks there will be substantial shifts in policy toward Iran?

Additionally, how would the US actually prevent the possession of knowledge necessary to build a nuclear weapon when such information is available online? It seems Bush is requiring Iran to disprove a negative.

Sent by Scott | 2:19 PM | 12-5-2007

I'm VERY suspicious about the NIE regarding IRAN, immediately wondering IF someone, say in the Intelligence Community "CONFRONTED" the administration in some way. Or as Bob Barr (former CIA agent) suggested, the Administration decided they had overreached and needed a credible way to back off? I noticed, too, immediately the Generals in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN are suddenly saying that they don't see as much IRANIAN meddling as before (from the NPR story about Gates visiting Afghanistan and the Generals comments on Morning Edition 12/4.2007). Only last week they were saying otherwise. To the point, is there an "orchestrated" NEW posture now coming from the Administration? Something does not smell right here and I wonder if there was a behind the scenes confrontation? Maybe we'll know the full story a few years from now.

Sent by Larry J | 2:20 PM | 12-5-2007

JFK was not the first Catholic to run for president... Al Smith was Catholic, and he ran in 1928. He just lost, is all.

Sent by Maura Farrelly | 2:23 PM | 12-5-2007

Somebody's personal belief is none of my business. I thought that was the whole point.

Sent by John OToole | 2:24 PM | 12-5-2007

Religion and politics only hurt each other. Yes, a candidates faith and beliefs shape his or her political choices, but to reduce any faith to mere credes and pithy statements of belief does not necessarily reflect how that candidate will actually act when in office. Religion is hurt even more when faith is claimed just to win votes. The two should be seperate, for their own good.

Sent by Ben Atkinson | 2:24 PM | 12-5-2007

I think the evangelicals have hijacked the republican party and blurred the separation of church and state,

Sent by mark miller | 2:25 PM | 12-5-2007

Personally, I'd like to see an atheist or someone with no particular organized religion elected President. There is such a conflict of interest between any religion and public policy, especially for policy areas that are scientifically-based. However, I'd be satisfied with a President who was privately religious, but who left his or her religious beliefs out of their policy decisions (impossible as that sounds). I think we have a great example right now (G.W. Bush) of what can happen if someone's religious ideology directs their decision-making.

Sent by April | 2:26 PM | 12-5-2007

On the subject of the relevance of Religion as a factor in determining the quality of a political candidate, I find that so much empahsis is placed on what the candidates affiliation is rather than how that person determines his moral and ethical decisions. I would rather hear a group of candidates argue which political philosopher or ethical theory they use to make decisions. I just think it would be great to hear them engage in an actual arguement.
Thank you for your time

Sent by Dennis Grimes | 2:28 PM | 12-5-2007

Yes, I find someone's religious stand important especially if it will direct legislationn they will pass. It astounds me how we've become so unconstitutional in allowing personal faith into our government.

Sent by Ruth | 2:28 PM | 12-5-2007

I appreciated NPR's two hour program and hope that there will be more like it. Radio presentations are more accesable to citizens who can listen at work or at home while working. Futhermore, a radio forum decreases the bravado the litters television debates.

Sent by T. Sisti | 2:28 PM | 12-5-2007

Faith should have no pull in the election. American was found on the basis of feeing itself from the Church of England. People that are Christians are not better people than muslims, jewish or even atheist.

Sent by Jason Nelson | 2:29 PM | 12-5-2007

It's not a candidate's religious views that I find important; it's only important if it affects their beliefs about science. Huckabee's view that science is wrong about evolution IS important because it could affect science education.

Sent by Gene Pozniak | 2:33 PM | 12-5-2007

The religion of a president is not important as long as it is not constantly trumped up. I do not care if the President is catholic, jewish, muslim or what ever as long as I don't have to hear it and he makes his/her decision on what is good for the state. Funny enough as a european were state and church is not separate nobody will talk or trump up religion. Fundamentalist Religious people scare me. Monika

Sent by Monika Hemmers , Philadelphia | 2:33 PM | 12-5-2007

You seem to be making an illogical (to me) connection between religious beliefs and "core values". One can hold strong and consistent moral values without those values being grounded in religious beliefs. For example, the 10 commandments, while delivered to people from Moses, are the values of many agnostics, atheists, and people of a variety of religious and non-religious persuasions.

Sent by Maryly Snow | 2:37 PM | 12-5-2007

It is amazing to me that there are people who say that Mormons are not Christians. Everything taught and done in the church points toward Jesus Christ. It is very frustrating that there is so much misconception about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sent by Dr. James Coombs | 2:37 PM | 12-5-2007

My vote and my confidence would go immediately to a candidate that professed atheism, rather than the menu of standard religions available. Since that is not going to happen, though, I will settle for someone that adheres to the best of religion, rather than the worst. The best of all religions is what they all have in common; the worst of them is what they have in distinction.

Sent by Stephen Judd | 2:41 PM | 12-5-2007

The president of the Mormon church has much more power over the members than people realize. My daughter converted to the LDS church to be married to a mormon. Not only did the elder of the church change the wedding date after the invitations had been printed and postpone the wedding for 3 mo. for our 24 year old daughter and her 27 year old fiance, we were not allowed to attend the wedding wedding in a temple since we are not mormon. We'll not be able to attend the weddings of our granddaughters' either. Maribeth in Denver

Sent by Maribeth Berry | 2:49 PM | 12-5-2007

I'm surprised by the comments in the first 15 minute segment about the "debate." While its impossible to have a debate with more than two sides, the discussion on NPR was far more informative than all the other "debates" combined.

In part the limiting of the topics to three, and not the ones that I would have picked -- why no discussion of economy-environment-energy -- allowed much more coherent discussion and follow-up. On the threat posed by Iran, we did have the rational realist Gravel note correctly that Iran has never been a threat to anyone, to Hillary's almost neocon position of the need to threaten violence to make people agree with you.

I wonder if Hillary's experience as a parent has driven her to that position, while Kucinich's lack of parental experience makes him believe that people are inherently rational and good....

In any case, it would be nice to have debates, but to have debates the topics would need to be more general and yet specific. For example, instead of the topics of Iran and China, the debate topic would have been, "Is threat of war a more powerful means of defending the nation than actively seeking peace and agreement on common objectives?" I suspect that the latter position would be effectively defended by Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Ron Paul.

Sent by michael pettengill | 2:54 PM | 12-5-2007

In the Iowa caucuses, voters who want to vote for a candidate with a low possibility of winning have the opportunity to pool and recast their votes for their 2nd choice candidate. This has a semblance of rank voting. Are there any other elections/caucuses in our Election process that use Rank voting or Rank-like voting.
I read a article after the 2000 election that the "Winner Take All" method of electing candidates was the worst method at reflecting the "will of the people" and that all forms of Rank Voting were better. Is this still considered true? If so, why don't the parties use Rank Voting in their primaries just for the additional information it provides about the electability of a candidate?

Sent by Dan Kien | 2:55 PM | 12-5-2007

I do think that religion can make a difference.
If a president changes reports to that they do not conflict with their beliefs, that makes a difference
If a president forces abstinence to be taught and funding for it reduces the effectiveness of the rest of the sexual education suffers. The decision was not made on facts.
If a president promotes Intelligent Design as science we are affected.
If a president believes that our govenrment is based on the Ten Commandments it alienates non believers. The first four commandments are about declaring a closed shop, not an open and inviting society.

Sent by John Washburn | 3:26 PM | 12-5-2007

When a candidate has VERY little to distinguish themselves from the others who are running, they ALWAYS try to say "I'm just like you. Let me be your surrogate. Because I believe in the same things you believe." Pick a topic: they will ALL (try to) be "what you WANT them to be."

Let me tell you this: No politican can (or should) be completely trusted! (That's why we have the Freedom of Information Act and the 1st Amendment)

Dem.,Repub.,Lib.,Reform, Green, Soc.,Comm.,N_zi,, .....etc are ALL telling (whatever it takes) to get YOUR vote! (How careful would YOU be if your cellphone came with a 4 year (no returns) service agreement?)

Caveat Emptor! And think BEFORE you vote!

Sent by Harold | 4:30 PM | 12-5-2007

I have no problem with politics including the topic of religion. I have no problem with debates about religion or character building with religion.

What I do have a problem with is arrogance. You can talk about intelligent design or abstinence, but you cannot teach it in a classroom because there are no facts to reason with. This is why Darwin's theory of Evolution is taught and discussed, because we believe evolution to be an accepted and therefore contended process. In other words, if Bush feels that early term abortion is immoral or wrong, that is fine, but pushing legistlation or appointing justices that hold his own personal views on subjective or relative matter is illogical to a Republic or a Democracy. Again, not to be too long winded, a political officer's duty is first and foremost, to be fair to her/his entire public. Meaning, even if you hate the ideology or philosophy of another, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave; brave enough, to not only listen to what you disagree with, but respect it as well.

Sent by Joseph Harris | 6:59 PM | 12-5-2007

I have a strong faith in the Baptist church and believe that everything that happens is in God's control. As a Christian I have faith that God will guide and direct this country and its leaders in the direction that He wills for it to go. I believe it is not what I want that matters but what God's will is for me that matters.

With this being said, I believe that it is important for us to elect a presidentail canidate with strong Christian values. The individual that we elect has to be willing to seek out God will for this nation and not their own personal will.

Sent by Derick Sibley | 12:26 PM | 12-6-2007

The hopes in electing a Christian president is that they will seek out God's will in the decisions that they make. It was said that sometimes being a Christian is just used to win an election. This could be true, but it is also used in many other situations to get a favored response. How many times have we heard, "I have accepted Jesus as my savior?" It is not the words stating that you are Christian that are important but the actions you take that prove it to the rest of the world.

Sent by Derick Sibley | 12:32 PM | 12-6-2007

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