An early event is already taking shapeÂ in Iowa for potential Republican presidential candidates: A series of lectures organized by social conservative group the Family Leader, headed up by former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.
Vander Plaats ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010, winning 40% in the GOP primary to 50% for ex-Gov. Terry Branstad, who went on to win the general election.
Five speakers have been lined up so far: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, his fellow Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and businessman Herman Cain.Others have been invited: Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, Sarah Palin, Haley Barbour, and Rep. Mike Pence. One name seems to be conspicuous in its absence: Mitt Romney.
Interestingly, the organizers say Romney is invited — they just haven’t been able to contact him!
As Ben Smith reports:
Vander Plaats says the group sought to invite Romney, but has been “unable to communicate with his office or his staff.”
“Romney’s definitely invited,” he said. “We’ve left a lot of messages. We just haven’t heard back yet.”