My Dear Friends,
What a night in Iowa!
The top two winners in Iowa—separated by a hair's breadth—were both men who signed NOM's Marriage Pledge, frontrunner and winner Gov. Mitt Romney and the incredible, surprise come-from-behind (to within eight votes) Sen. Rick Santorum.
Congratulations to both of them, and to all the other candidates who agreed to be marriage champions.
Which means, I hasten to remind you, everybody but Ron Paul, at this point. More on that in a minute.
I was there at the caucus in Waterloo, Iowa, watching democracy happen. It's an incredible experience! I wish you could have been there with me.
If you don't follow politics all that closely you might not know how close Ron Paul came to winning the Iowa caucuses.
Ron Paul was holding at a steady 16, 17, 18 points in Iowa polling, up until support for frontrunner Newt Gingrich collapsed. I started becoming concerned because I began receiving calls from many of the good people—including pastors—with whom we worked in the campaign to defeat Iowa's activist judges. These people, who opposed same-sex marriage, were searching for a candidate and were actually beginning to gravitate to Ron Paul. By mid-December, three separate Iowa polls were showing Ron Paul as the winner, with his poll numbers going as high as 28 percent of the vote.
I knew we had to act. Can you imagine the field day the liberal mainstream media would have had if Ron Paul won the Iowa caucuses?
"Look, even evangelicals in Iowa don't care about marriage any more," they would have lied, and they would have used that lie to try to persuade Republican legislators in gay marriage battles across the nation.
Ron Paul, to his credit, has always been a stalwart pro-life vote, and at NOM we know from our past experience in other elections that faith-based voters who see a strong pro-life candidate often just assume he or she is good on marriage too.
In Paul's case that's just not true, and we had to let Iowa voters know the truth.
Ron Paul's a good man, but he's just wrong on marriage.
We put up a TV ad that Time's Joe Klein called "very effective" (even though he didn't catch that it was NOM's ad):
"I saw a very effective anti-Ron Paul ad on the air last night, but I don't know who was responsible for it. It was about gay marriage, which Paul tolerates because he doesn't believe the state should involve itself in marriage. This is somewhat akin to supporting human sacrifice among the Christian Conservatives out here, and I suspect it will move some votes away from Paul over the next 24 hours," Klein wrote.
Klein was right. It was a very effective ad. Combined with strategically-placed internet ads which drove voters to a website where they could view the ad, and the outreach with our newsletter (which reaches 12,000 Iowan households each week) and more than 580,000 phone calls we made to social conservative voters, we made sure evangelicals and others in Iowa who care about marriage were informed that Ron Paul's not with them.
And they responded!
And once again a truth we prove over and over again became clear: It's a really bad idea to be for gay marriage (or, in Ron Paul's case, just to avoid opposing it) if you are a Republican.
Ron Paul's surge, as Gingrich's polling numbers fell, was stopped in its tracks.
Paul did end up with a respectable third place finish in Iowa, with 21 percent of the vote, but here’s the kicker: That third-place finish by Ron Paul was largely fueled by the large turnout he got from non-Republican voters, a large plurality of whom went for Ron Paul.
Ron Paul also grabbed the lion's share—40 percent—of votes from self-identified moderates and liberals in the Iowa caucus vote.
I like a lot of what Ron Paul stands for, but I don't think it was his libertarian budget-cutting ideas which were pulling his voters into places like Waterloo that chilly night. I suspect a big chunk of Paul's vote was anti-war Democrats attempting to sabotage the GOP's message. Of course we can't know that for sure.
Guess who emerged as the favorite of Tea Party voters—those whom the media says don't care about the social issues? No, it wasn't the libertarian Paul. It was Rick Santorum.
The New York Times' political blog also noticed NOM's ad, crediting us with putting marriage front and center to likely GOP caucus goers—only 22 percent of whom a December New York Times poll noted said they supported gay marriage. (These were probably the moderates and liberals planning on voting for Paul!)
"But the National Organization for Marriage ad injects a new and volatile issue into the race, one that has so far largely remained on the sidelines. Same-sex marriage has been a contentious issue in Iowa—voters have removed some of the state judges who paved the way for its legalization—but it has not been a major factor in the presidential campaign."
Not until you helped us put it front and center, educating the public so they could make an educated choice.
As I wandered the halls in Waterloo, I met many wonderful Iowans, many of whom came up to thank me for NOM's ad campaign. (Two of the people I met on election night in Iowa were Mr. and Mrs. Duggar, stars of hit TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting.")
Here's the important thing I want to tell you: Those people who came up to thank me? It was you they were really thanking.
You and the hundreds of thousands of other good people who make our work here at NOM possible.
In just a few short years NOM has become the nation's leading pro-marriage organization, your voice for your values.
And we have a lot more good fights to fight in 2012, which I can't wait to share with you.
But I keep thinking back to those early days with Maggie—just a few short years ago, New Year's in 2007, when we were a tiny new organization which nobody yet took seriously, deciding to take on what seemed like the gargantuan, impossible task of getting Prop 8 on the ballot in just a few short weeks.
One of our dear friends and supporters at that time in San Diego, seeking to cheer us all on to tackle the impossible, quoted Mother Theresa: "We are not called to be successful, but we are called to be faithful."
True. Very wise and very true.
But as Maggie quickly added, "Personally, I feel called to be successful."
So do I, with the grace of God!
Thank you for the joys of fighting the good fight with you. God's blessings on you and your family.
And Happy New Year!
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage
P.S. As we begin a new year, full of new challenges, consider whether you can stand with us. When you give to NOM—whether you can give $20 or $200—you are helping to forge a future in which marriage is protected, for your children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.
This message has been authorized and paid for by the National Organization for Marriage, 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006, Brian Brown, President. This message has not been authorized or approved by any candidate.