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Social conservatives play big role in Iowa caucuses

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Steve Scheffler was a young Pat Robertson staffer when the televangelist grabbed a surprising second place in the 1988 presidential Iowa caucuses.
Christian conservatives had been gaining sway in the Republican Party, but the Robertson campaign “was the thing that blew the top off the lid,” Mr. Scheffler said.
Now a national committeeman and president of the influential Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, which drew five presidential candidates and 1,700 people to a forum in March, Mr. Scheffler helps steer the movement Mr. Robertson fueled. Sitting in the group’s three-room offices just outside the state capital last week, Mr. Scheffler maintained that the state’s social conservatives are neither monolithic nor single-minded — but they are unquestionably a force in deciding how the first contest in the presidential campaign is waged.
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