Skipping the "Thanksgiving Family Forum" in Des Moines, Iowa was not a well-played political move on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's part, according to the head of the Family Research Council.
The forum took place at the First Federated Church and focused on faith and how it affects the candidates. The event was aimed at social conservative caucus goers in the early voting state.
"He [Romney] has had trouble with that target audience and the fact that he is missing it, speaks to the fact that he is hoping to move on and capture more of the independent vote and set aside those who are social conservatives," FRC president Tony Perkins said on "America's News HQ" Saturday afternoon.
Perkins speculated that Romney may be trying to follow Senator John McCain's wayward path to the White House, which Perkins noted led McCain to a dead-end.
"He may be trying to take the McCain path to the nomination which worked for John McCain because he was a moderate in the race and able to secure the nomination because the others divided up that core-based vote. But he did not win the presidency. And I think Mitt Romney has the same problem."
On the surface, Romney appears to fit in ideologically with the groups that sponsored Saturday's forum. Romney signed "The National Organization for Marriage's" pledge against equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. During a 1994 Mormon church gathering he allegedly called homosexuality "perverse" and "reprehensible." But back in 2002, while running for Massachusetts governor, Romney took a progressive position on homosexuality and said, "All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of sexual preference." Many conservative pundits say his clear reversal in issues such as this is what has given social conservatives pause.
Some pundits say Saturday's forum could have helped Romney seal the deal so to speak, with some social conservatives. "Nearly 40% of the primary voters are social conservatives," said Perkins. "He has trouble, real political trouble with social conservatives and it doesn't add up that he would skip this event."
Romney spent the day campaigning in New Hampshire. Six other candidates chose to attend the forum, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the man Perkins says may be Romney's biggest obstacle now. "By skipping over the state and pinning his hopes on New Hampshire, he'll have to fight with Gingrich making gains," Perkins insisted
After Romney bowed out of Saturday's forum, "Family Leader" founder Bob Vander Platts denounced the decision on Fox News saying, "Mitt Romney has dissed the base in Iowa and this dis will not stay in Iowa. This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president."