DES MOINES — A rolling billboard coach supporting the anti-abortion cause and the defeat of five specific congressional candidates began its five-state trip Monday in Iowa, with stops in Sioux City, Des Moines and Mason City.
The “Women Speak Out: Abortion is Not Health Care” bus arrived in Des Moines about 1:15 p.m. The group had hoped to park their coach — decorated with the crossed-out faces of Barack Obama, Christie Vilsack and other Democrats — in front of the Capitol and use it as a backdrop for a news conference.
But they were forced to move locations because work crews had blocked off the street Monday to set up viewing stands for an upcoming road race.
Instead, they set up shop on East 7th and East Locust streets at the base of the Capitol parkway with the bus parked around the block.
The Des Moines stop was the second of three in the state and 30 across the country scheduled by the group, whose trip will also take them to Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
The appearance was organized by the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee helping women who are anti-abortion get elected to Congress, and The Family Leader, an Iowa social conservative group.
The Des Moines event attracted about 120 people, many of them holding signs in support of the anti-abortion cause, in support of Rep. Steve King of Kiron and against Obama.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds started the 40-minute news conference with a speech in support of King and his message.
“He is a man of conviction, he is a man of integrity, and he is a man who is unafraid to stand up for the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of life,” she said. “We should not be afraid to stand up for somebody who stands up for the unborn.”
Other speakers at the Des Moines stop included Tamara Scott of Concerned Women for America, Melissa Ohden who survived a chemical abortion in her mother’s womb and has grown up to be an anti-abortion activist and speaker, and Julie Summa, director of outreach and marketing for the Family Leader.
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Summa used her turn at the microphone to support King, the movement and to plug the Family Leader’s campaign to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins.
The Family Leader and the Iowa Republican Party are encouraging voters to vote against Wiggins’ retention because he supported the 2009 Varnum decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
“What happens with the presidential race filters down with the other races and, of course, Steve King is very important to us,” said Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman from Colorado who heads the Susan B. Anthony List’s government affairs operation. Musgrave also gave her support to Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who has come under fire for a comment he made about a woman’s body being able to prevent a “legitimate rape.”
“Well, Congressman Akin, (who) I served with for three terms, said he misspoke and I take him at his word,” Musgrave said. “It seems like in these campaigns, people will make a faux pas, they will say something, and I think what we really need to focus on in that race is the record of Todd Akin.”
The Vilsack campaign released a statement accusing King of trying to avoid topics such as the economy and taxes.
“Christie Vilsack has spent years focused on preventing unwanted pregnancies in Iowa. She founded a nonprofit aimed at prevention and has traveled across the state talking to people about responsible family planning. Trying to divide people on this issue, instead of trying to find common ground — like prevention — just isn’t productive,” the statement said.