Did the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition just trump the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library?
President of the IFFC, Steve Scheffler, confirms to Fox News it will send out invitations shortly to "twelve or thirteen" presidential candidates for a forum.
The event is set for the Point of Grace Church (just outside of Des Moines) on Monday, March 7th,. So far, it's the earliest Iowa event scheduled for the GOP hopefuls. Scheffler predicts as many as 800 could turn out.
To perhaps entice candidates a bit more, Scheffler guesses the crowd will be made up of "95% activists". Translation: likely caucus goers, the most sought-after Iowans for White House wannabes in the state where the first presidential contest is set.
Before the IFFC announcement, the first event expected to draw most, if not all, Republican presidential candidates in 2011 was the Reagan Library debate.
When announced by broadcast partner NBC News back in November, the debate was said to "during the Spring of 2011." Strictly speaking, that would be sometime after March 20th, some two weeks after the IFFC forum.
Contacted Thursday, a Reagan Library spokeswoman said the debate date would be announced next week.
Scheffler says the IFFC forum is not a debate. There is no current planned questioning of candidates.
Each candidate accepting the invitation would get time (likely somewhere 10 and 15 minutes) to talk one-at-a-time, about their candidacy. Sheffler also notes, "We don't have any plans to endorse."
This, Scheffler hopes, is assurance to the candidates that the IFFC will be an open and fair player in the Iowa Caucus campaign.
And maybe, the host of the first gathering of the GOP hopefuls.
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.