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Prestonwood Baptist Church Choir

Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie take the stage during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Update: 6:54 p.m.

Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham just took a swipe at Donald Trump. In his interview with Jeb Bush, he stopped his questions to praise former President George W. Bush.

Trump recently pointed out that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred under the former president’s watch.

“George W. Bush did keep us safe, no matter what anybody says, ” Graham said. “You should be held accountable for ridiculous statements.”

Update: 5:14 p.m.

Mike Huckabee, a minister, is speaking about the “assault” on religious freedoms.

He is defending Kim Davis, the clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.

“If you put a public official in jail for believing the Biblical view of marriage, you have criminalized Christianity, ” he said.

Update: 5:12 p.m.

Rick Santorum says it’s important to elect a candidate who can get things done in Washington.

“A lot of people fight the fight, but the most important things is winning the fight, ” he said.

Update: 3:53 p.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, just completed remarks at Prestonwood Baptist Church.

“Religious liberty is under threat today like it never has been in this nation, ” Cruz said. “As these threats grow darker and darker, they are waking up people in Texas and all across the country.”

Cruz said he likened next year’s presidential election to the contest in 1980.

“It took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan, ” he said. “I can’t wait to see where we’re headed next.”

Update: 3:32 p.m.

Carly Fiorina is answering questions from Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham.

“People of faith make better leaders, ” she said. “We know that every one of us can fall. We know that each one can be redeemed.”

Fiorina, the only woman in the huge field of Republican presidential contenders, said she didn’t want Americans to vote for her based on gender.

“I will never ask for your vote and support because I am a woman, although I’m proud to be one, ” she said. “As a woman, I’m insulted when people say all I care about is a certain issue.”

Update: 3:30
Minutes before the GOP forum began at the cavernous Prestonwood church, a happy crowd chatted about their favorite candidates.

PLANO, TX - OCTOBER 18: The public lines up more than two hours ahead of time to get seats in the audience for the North Texas Presidential Forum at the Prestonwood Baptist Church in October 18, 2015 in Plano, Texas. Republican Presidential candidates were invited to address the audience for 10 minutes, followed by a 10 minute discussion with Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)Roy Veal with the Allen Tea Party Patriots said he supported Sen. Ted Cruz and voted him for U.S. senator. His faith remains strong in the candidate because “he’s the one standing up to the establishment. Anything he’s at I’m going to be at, ” said Veal, an Army vet whose attire boasted of his service and carried a flag patch that read: “Try Burning This One.”

Nearby, Alexandra Fincher said she supported surgeon Ben Carson.”I am backing Carson all the way. Trump and Carson all the way. That’s for business and brains.”

She supports Carson and Trump, even though Trump has attacked her birth nation of Mexico. She’s a naturalized U.S. citizen and says the U.S. immigration system should be changed. “Get rid of those who have committed crimes, ” but others should be given work visas, Fincher said.

Business leader Carly Fiorina is someone Fincher likes, too. “But she is a little weak in our party.”

Pat Edmiston, a retiree from Farmers Branch, said she supported Trump and wished he had accepted the invitation to come to the Plano event. Edmiston said she likes Trump’s brash style. “He is not flip-flopping on things, ” Edmiston said.

She also likes Trump because of his position on immigration. “I am for legal immigration but the system is so broken. It’s not only Hispanics. I am afraid of ISIS.”

Original post here:

Organizers expect up to 8, 000 evangelicals to attend a presidential forum Sunday afternoon at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

The event features six Republican presidential candidates and will be moderated by Jack Graham, pastor at Prestonwood.

It’s sponsored by the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

“It will be the largest presidential forum the candidates will be a part of, ” said Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

The forum starts at 3 p.m. and includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Hewlett-Packared CEO Carly Fiorina and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, will not participate in the forum. Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Hillary Clinton, also skipped the event.

But during the era of President Barack Obama the electoral force of evangelicals, particularly in presidential elections, diminished.

Head and others hope Sunday’s forum and a political climate that’s been challenging to evangelical voters will spur a larger turnout in the 2016 elections.

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