Im wearing a new red rubber wristband: it says Iowa Strong11.6.12 Its a good reminder for me and for Iowans of the important role this state plays in our presidential selection process. Iowa has a high voter turnout. In 2008, the nations turnout was unusually high61.6% But Iowas was higher still69.4%. The Hawkeye State has a strong commitment to grassroots democracy.

The sense of Iowa Strong made itself clear again last weekend as we took the FRC-Heritage Foundation Values Bus through the state. Starting in Osceola, local leader Scott McLin organized a rally in a church parking lot. Citizens came together on a windy, clear Saturday afternoon to hear State Rep. Joel Fry and State Senate candidate Amy Sinclair speak of the urgent need to control spending and stand strong for basic values. Heritage Foundations Genevieve Wood warned of Taxmageddon, the avalanche of new taxes that will hit American homes and businesses if Congress and the president do not act soon to avoid the automatic expiry of Bush-era tax cuts.

I had a chance to make the case for policies that protect unborn life, preserve marriage, and defend our essential religious freedom. Pastor Matt Flood spoke movingly of our responsibilities as Christians to exercise our right to vote. He quoted from American Founder John Witherspoon. Rev. Witherspoon was a Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Pastor Flood cares deeply about the nations pastand its future. His eloquent remarks got me thinking: John Witherspoon never heard of Iowa. He died before President Jefferson made the historic Louisiana Purchase that brought Iowa into American possession. But Witherspoonlike all the Founderscared deeply about securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. We are those millions yet unborn for whom the Founders were willing to sacrifice so much.

Its humbling, too, to hear John Witherspoons words read out to appreciative Iowans 236 years after they were written. Will anything we say on the Values Bus tour be read and appreciated in the year 2248? Perhaps, but only if we succeed in keeping this beloved country the last best hope of earth.

Moving on to Council Bluffs, we are regaled with local stories. This city has one of only six remaining Squirrel Cage Jails in America. That aptly named hoosegow is three stories high, consists of pie-wedge shaped cells, and allows the entire lockup to be overseen by a single prison guard. The Squirrel Cage Jail is no longer in use for prisoners. Maybe the ACLU thought it cruel and unusual to be twirled around every time one of the inmates had to go exit the single door. But I had a great time imagining a reality show in Council Bluffs. Instead of voting people off the island, we could vote them into jail. I confess Id like to see a lot of political consultants in both parties there. I have a little list and therell none of them be missed.

Local notable Grenville Dodge had a great Victorian mansion in Council Bluffs. Local political leaders told us that Abraham Lincoln once dined there, before he was president. They say there are six wine glasses lovingly tended and on display. They dont know which one Lincoln used, so they preserve them all. Lincoln, I knew, was almost a teetotaler, so those wine goblets really are rare.

On to Sioux City, our bus rolls in to an Olive Garden restaurant for dinner. The buzz cut teenager who escorts to our booth takes one look at the big red, white, blue and gold Values Bus and my I Vote Values button and says: I dont need to guess who youre voting for for president. Thats another reason I like Iowa. When one in the crowd presses me for an endorsement, I just quote Jefferson: Give light and the people will find their own way.

Riding on the Values Bus, we are in the lighting department. Our purpose is to make sure the vital issues that the media too often like to ignore are not ignored. They are a critical part of voters decision-making. The party platforms make it clear, too. For one party, abortion is central. For one party, too, counterfeit marriage has become the order of the day.

It wasnt always so. At various stops, I related the history of the Defense of Marriage Act. In 1996, that bill passed through both houses of Congress overwhelmingly. The House voted 342-67; the Senate 85-14 to defend marriage. That bill would have passed both houses of Congress if there had not been a single Republican in either chamber. And it was signed by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

I thank the young voters at every stop for leading America firmly in the pro-life direction. They know what even some liberals are admitting. TIME Magazines Joe Klein says ultra-sound has made it impossible to deny that that thing in the womb is a human being. Right you are, Joe Klein. And most young Americans have seen their own first picturesultra sound photos. Impossible or not, there are leading politicos in this country who deny reality every day. You could find thousands of them meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently.

Pastor Cary Gordon at Cornerstone World Outreach Church presides over a truly Shining City on a Hill. CWOC is built on the highest point in that city. Pastor Gordon invited Congressman Steve King and State Senate candidate, Col. Al Ringenberg, to address a large assembly. The pastor emphasized that all candidates are welcome to speak in his church and he will ask them all where they stand on life, marriage, and religious freedom.

Congressman King reminded attendees of this administrations attempt to ban the Bible at Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington, D.C.

In my remarks, I noted that Walter Reed was the most famous military doctor, the one who eradicated Yellow Fever. Dr. Reed wrote to his wife the prayer of twenty years has been answered. I asked if Walter Reed himself would be banned at Walter Reed hospital?

Riding through the night, we return to Des Moines. Big Bus Driver Scott Wilson has logged tens of thousands of miles on the Values Bus, tirelessly pressing on. And Ive never seen him get lost or make a mistake! FRCs Chris Bosch has perfected the setup and breakdown of our booths to a science. He can do it in less than five minutes. FRC Actions Kathy Flavin handles the scheduling of events with amazing professionalism. In my time on the bus, weve never been late or missed an engagement.

Were up early for a Monday rally at the State Capitol. Pro-family leaders Bob Vander Plaats and Tamara Scott remind the crowd assembled in the shadow of the majestic gold dome how important it is to remove Judge David Wiggins from office. He is one of seven Supreme Court judges who overturned marriage in Iowa. In 2010, FRC President Tony Perkins and FRCAction leader Connie Mackey led a Judge Bus Tour around Iowa that helped to recall three of those judicial activists. Judge Wiggins is simply Number Four in line to be removed. Tamara Scott showed her hand-made D- signthe grade given to Judge Wiggins by the Iowa Bar Association. Even his peers recognize that Wiggins is a less than mediocre judge.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum spoke most powerfully of Americas unique constitutional order, our exceptional system of checks and balances, so necessary for the maintenance of liberty. Sen. Santorum famously visited all ninety-nine Iowa counties in his year-long quest for the GOP presidential nomination.

I thanked Iowa voters and noted that black, white, Hispanic and Asian voters had come together to vote out those anti-marriage judicial usurpers. In every state, marriage is a bridge issue that brings together Americans of all races and creeds.

Standing under that beautiful Iowa State Capitol, you cannot help but marvel. That impressive structure was erected by a free people, without federal funds, without federal mandates. Yes, Iowans, you did build that!