MARSHALLTOWN: Shelly Smith, an undecided voter, arrived Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Iowa with one intention: deciphering whether Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio is a man of faith.
One five-minute discourse on religion later, Smith was a convert: Rubio, she said, was “solid.”
The 45-year-old mother of seven arrived early at the forum in the small city of Marshalltown where she lives.
Billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are virtually tied in the lead in Iowa just six days before the state caucuses, but Rubio is the first candidate Smith has come to see.
“If someone doesn’t put themselves under the authority of God, they will not be a good president” she said, waiting for the Florida senator’s arrival.
“I’m looking for someone who can represent the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly” she told AFP.
Rubio entered the room and the Catholic son of Cuban immigrants began his speech as he often does, touching on American greatness. Smith listened intently.
“Using your taxpayer money to pay for abortions in other countries, that ends when I take the oath of office,” Rubio promised some ten minutes in, to grand applause.
Smith rose to her feet, the only member of the audience to cheer him on standing.
Next came the question-and-answer session and Smith’s husband was the last to work in a query.
“Could you articulate how your faith as president of the United States can have an influence on this country to get us back to our Judeo-Christian roots?” he asked.
Rubio is used to the question, especially in Iowa, the Midwestern state where three out of five Republicans in the 2012 caucuses were evangelicals.
He skirts a direct answer at first, speaking instead to Americans’ charitable spirit, the most giving nation on Earth, he said. Next he moved on to his four children — to whom he must teach the ever-important difference between right and wrong.
Finally he went for it, letting loose with the answer Smith had been waiting for.
“Will faith influence me as president? Absolutely, I hope every single day,” he said.
“Our nation should hope that our next president is someone who every day and every night and every moment drops to their knees and asks the Lord for guidance and asks the Holy Spirt for inspiration and asks them for wisdom, the wisdom of Solomon to make difficult decision on behalf of the greatest and most important country in the world.”
Thunderous applause followed Rubio’s five-minute response, and Smith was no longer undecided.
“I’ll definitely vote for Rubio,” she said. “He’s a solid man.”