Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be the first potential Republican presidential candidate to participate in a new lecture series in Iowa.
The Family Leader, a coalition of socially conservative groups based in the Des Moines suburbs, will host Pawlenty on Feb. 7, according to a press release from the coalition. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain have also committed to participating.
Each speaker will appear at three schools in a single day: Dordt College in Sioux Center, Pella Christian High School in Pella and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The stops will include a roundtable of community leaders and then a brief lecture from the politician.
The lecture series will end Aug. 1, not long before the Ames straw poll, and the Family Leader also plans to host a debate Nov. 19.
“The Family Leader anticipates a crowd of more than a thousand potential caucus-goers,” the group said in its release. “This important forum will be a strategic event in determining the ultimate Iowa caucus winner in February of 2012.”
Former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats is the Family Leader’s president and CEO. Vander Plaats served as Iowa chairman for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Though Vander Plaats and other individuals who now work at the Family Leader got involved in the presidential caucus in 2008, the organization itself didn’t sponsor anything similar to the lecture series or debate.
Huckabee, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence were also invited to participate in the lecture series.