WSJ – Social Conservatism vs. Fiscal Conservatism in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa—Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour drew polite chuckles at the first extended forum for potential Republican presidential candidates Saturday when he declared: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

The main thing, he said, is economic growth. Mr. Barbour’s low-key comments focused on energy production and the need to spur private investment.

But in an Iowa-activist world where social conservatism has long dominated the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, some bridled at any suggestion that economic issues should take a front seat ahead of abortion, gay marriage or other social issues.

“Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism,” thundered Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, bringing the crowd at the Conservative Principles Conference to its feet. She called for abolishing the tax code and restoring “freedom of choice” in light- bulb purchases.

Wall Street Journal
3/28/11