AUDIO of @RepPaulRyan @BobbyJindal @TedCruz #IApolitics

Over 700 people are gathered in a building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds this evening for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual fall fundraiser. Several Iowa Republican candidates spoke to the crowd. Joni Ernst spoke right after The DMR Iowa Poll was released. (Hear Ernst here.)

Three prospective 2016 presidential candidates spoke to the crowd as well.  Their speeches are posted below.

AUDIO of Wisconsin Senator Paul Ryan’s speech, 9:13

AUDIO of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, 38:00

AUDIO of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 32:00

Cruz, who was the closer for the event, began his speech with a couple of jokes about the White House fence jumper, suggesting there was another one today who was told: “I’m sorry Hillary. Not yet.”

Later, Cruz inserted HRC in a discussion of cases before SupCo. “We ought to invite Hillary Clinton to debate the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Cruz said.

 

 

 

Today’s the day: the last Harkin Steak Fry

The 37th and final “Harkin Steak Fry” gets underway in a few hours and over the past few days I’ve been asked to describe the event and what might be expected today.

If this Steak Fry is like the ones that came before, it will be a rollicking outdoor pep rally for Iowa Democrats, with plenty of red-meat rhetoric served up in addition to the grilled steaks. This is not an event where candidates roll out a new policy paper. This is a fire-up-the-troops for the General Election event.

Senator Tom Harkin serves as the chief cheerleader. He comes armed with a speech laden with one-liners. Expect Republicans to be the target of his punchlines, as they have in the past. Last year, for example, Harkin listed the parade of potential Republican presidential candidates who’d made their way to Iowa. “We’ve endured visits by Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz. Governor ‘Oops’ Perry is on his way,” Harkin said and the crowd booed the mention of each name. “All I can say, folks, is that the clown car is filling up pretty rapidly.”

In 2010, Harkin said he’d asked Sarah Palin to do the crowd count.. “She said it’s so big she can see it from Wasilla,” Harkin said, to hoots and howls from the crowd.

In 2003, Harkin’s Steak Fry attracted all the candidates competing for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination: “My friends, we are organized, we are mobilized, we are energized and, in words that even George Bush, can understand, we are ready to kick some elephant.”

This Sunday’s event will be staged on a hillside on the east side of Indianola. The field is used for launching balloons during the city’s annual balloon festival and it’s been used frequently for Harkin’s Steak Fry. The crowd will sit on blankets, lawn chairs or just right on the ground itself.

What might they hear from Hillary Clinton? As you know by now, this is her first appearance in Iowa since January 3, 2008, the night she finished third in the Iowa Caucuses. Clinton’s mere presence speaks volumes and, if she indeed is running in 2016, Iowa is the first event on the calendar of primaries and caucuses. Skipping Iowa’s Caucuses, as was suggested in May of 2007, would likely make the 2016 General Election more difficult for Clinton or any Democrat who secures the nomination, because Iowa will be a swing state. That was a reality for the Romney campaign in 2012 and it will be again in 2016.

Now, with an open race for the White House on both sides in 2016, if there’s not a vigorous campaign on the Democratic side, will Republicans amass a General Election ground game advantage through the Caucuses that will benefit the GOP’s nominee, whoever that may be?

Given the beheading of a Brit that is dominating the news today, Clinton is also presented with a clear path when it comes to foreign policy references in her speech. Stressing solidarity with our British allies — and, by extension, solidarity with Obama Administration foreign policy — will be expected. Whether she uses the speech to carve out any differences with Obama’s newly-defined approach in Syria is the open question.

A key event manager said Saturday that about 7000 tickets had been sold for today’s Steak Fry. When the event’s organizers expect the crowd to be akin to the 1300 who showed up last year rather than the 12,000 who showed up 2007, another venue on the west side of Indianola has been used. The Warren County Fairgrounds was where Barack Obama made his debut on Iowa’s political stage back in 2006.

Al Gore appeared at Steak Frys in 1995 and 1999. Gore’s ’99 appearance was staged inside a show ring on the fairgrounds.

The very first one, back in 1972, was held on the Kiernan farm in neighboring Madison County. Joan Kiernan was chair of the Madison County Democrats at the time. She and her husband, Gary, paid for the food so all the ticket money could go to the Harkin campaign. The steaks came from a meat locker in a small town nearby. Joan told me earlier this week there were 53 people at the first “fry” and, when Harkin ran again in 1974, the crowd for the second “fry” was only a tiny bit bigger. By the third one in 1976, a couple of farmers down the road who supported Harkin provided free beer.

The 1980 Steak Fry was the only one moved to another venue at the last minute because of the weather. Rain forced organizers to move everything from the farm into the church in Cumming, Harkin’s home town. (The event has never been cancelled due to the weather and today’s forecast is for sunny skies and mild temperatures.)

When Harkin decided to run for the U.S. Senate, the fundraiser became an every year affair and in the early ’80s the venue moved over to Warren County. The 1991 Harkin Steak Fry was the official launching pad for Harkin’s 1992 presidential campaign. That September 15, 1991 event was staged on a farm, with hay bales arranged as seating for the crowd of about 1800.

“George Herbert Walker Bush has got feet of clay,” Harkin said, “and I’m gonna take a hammer to ‘em.”

When Harkin dropped out of the 1992, he endorsed Bill Clinton. Clinton then became the first big keynote speaker to come in for a Steak Fry. He spoke at the 1992 Steak Fry and Clinton spoke again in 1996 when the names “Bill Clinton” and “Tom Harkin” were both on the ballot.

Now, all these years later, Clinton and Harkin will share the same stage again, with Hillary Clinton getting top billing rather than the former president.

I’ll be back in a few hours with some thoughts about how Iowa Republicans view this event with scorn, puzzlement — and a dose of envy, too.

DOJ announces ex-State Senator Kent Sorenson pleads guilty

Here’s the news release from the U.S. Department of Justice:

A former Iowa State Senator pleaded guilty today to concealing payments he received from a presidential campaign in exchange for switching his support and services from one candidate to another and to obstructing a subsequent investigation into his conduct.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Assistant Director in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“An elected official admitted that he accepted under-the-table payments from a campaign committee to secure his support and services for a candidate in the 2012 presidential election,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.    “Campaign finance reports should be accurate and transparent, not tools for concealing campaign expenditures.    Lying by public officials – whether intended to obstruct the FEC or federal investigators – violates the public trust and the law, and the Department of Justice does not tolerate it.”

“Today, Mr. Sorenson has taken responsibility for his crimes,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Gallagher.  “Exploiting the political process for personal gain will not be tolerated, and we will continue to pursue those who commit such illegal actions.”

Kent Sorenson, 42, of Milo, Iowa, pleaded guilty today to one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and one count of obstruction of justice in connection with the concealed expenditures.    The guilty plea was taken by Chief Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer of the Southern District of Iowa for later review by Senior District Court Judge Robert W. Pratt.    Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

 According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Sorenson admitted that he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000.    On Dec. 28, 2011, at a political event in Des Moines, Iowa, Sorenson publicly announced his switch of support and work from one candidate to the other.

  The payments included monthly installments of approximately $8,000 each and were concealed by transmitting them to a film production company, then through a second company, and finally to Sorenson and his spouse.  In response to criticism of his change of support for the candidates, Sorenson gave interviews to the media denying allegations that he was receiving any money from the second campaign committee, and noted that the committee’s FEC filings would show that the committee made no payments to him.

  In his plea agreement, Sorenson also admitted that he gave false testimony to an independent counsel appointed at the request of the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, which was investigating allegations from a former employee of the first presidential campaign.  Sorenson testified falsely to the independent counsel about the concealed payments, in part to obstruct investigations that he anticipated by the FBI and FEC .

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Omaha Field Office and the Des Moines Resident Agency.    The case is being prosecuted by Election Crimes Branch Director Richard C. Pilger and Trial Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

 

# #

Frank Hatch, father of Democratic gubernatorial candidate, dies at age 95

The campaign has released a statement this afternoon:

DES MOINES — Jack Hatch, candidate for Governor, released the following statement Monday regarding the passing of his father, Frank Hatch, in Stockbridge, MA, Sunday at Age 95:

“This is a sad time for my family.  My father, Frank Hatch, passed away of natural causes Sunday in a care facility near Stockbridge, MA.  He was 95.  I last saw him in June 2014, and was aware he was not in the best health.  I was glad I had the chance to talk to him at that time.  Funeral and burial arrangements are pending, but we are expecting to lay him to rest at the National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. My dad was a World War II Army veteran and retired from active duty as a Captain in the 87th Airborne Division.  He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 1954.  He is preceded in death by my mother, Joanne Fitzpatrick Hatch.

I’ve had great support in the past 24 hours from family and friends.  Thanks to all for respecting my family’s privacy at this time.”

UPDATE: Governor Branstad’s campaign released a statement late this afternoon.

(URBANDALE, Iowa) – The Branstad-Reynolds campaign today released the following statement from Governor Branstad after learning of the passing of Senator Hatch’s father.

“I recently learned of the passing of Senator Hatch’s father, and I express my deepest condolences to Senator Hatch. I respect and salute the service that Senator Hatch’s father gave to our nation in uniform. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Hatch and his family at this time.” – Governor Terry Branstad

UP Project targets ‘gender gap’ in Ernst race against Braley

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was the Republican candidate in California who ran against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. Fiorina is now leading a PAC organized to turn out more women voters for conservative female candidates like Joni Ernst, the Iowa Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2014.  Ernst, before the June 3 GOP primary, got the backing of SHE-PAC, another group that seeks to support conservative female candidates.

Read the news release below.

Carly Fiorina Launches Unlocking Potential Project for 2014 Campaign
Iowa Among Six Target States

“Liberals and Democrats fear nothing more than mobilized, articulate conservative women”

McLean, VA – Carly Fiorina issued the following statement announcing the launch of the Unlocking Potential (UP) Project, an organization dedicated to organizing conservative and Republican women in key states in an voter education and turnout effort.

“Liberals and Democrats fear nothing more than mobilized, articulate conservative women, and we will be highly engaged in building effective activist networks among conservative women,” Carly said.

“Democrats are already gearing-up their nonsensical “war on women” attacks, Unlocking Potential will refute these.  Women are not a special interest group; we’re more than half the country.  So when there are 50 million people – one out of every six Americans – on food stamps, and jobs are scarce, and ObamaCare is wreaking havoc with people’s lives, it is women who are going to stand up and fight for their lives, their livelihoods and their families,” Carly said.

The UP Project will engage women at the grassroots level to help conservatives close the gender and technology gap. It will utilize cutting-edge technology and techniques to target, persuade, and turnout female voters in six key states with competitive Senate races: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia.

“We have studied the successful campaigns and movements that have applied targeted and personal grassroots efforts to stimulate positive action,” Carly said. “They focus on real interactions; door-to-door and person-to-person contacts, and not just television advertising. These personal efforts are most effective in persuading and activating individuals.”

@JoniErnst, @BruceBraley issue statements on Hobby Lobby case

The two major party candidates who are competing for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat released statements about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in the Hobby Lobby case.  Read the candidates’ statements below:

At 11:46 a.m. — Braley Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision Restricting Women’s Access to Contraceptives 
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today issued the following statement after the Supreme Court’s decision involving Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.:

“99 percent of women choose to use contraceptives—and many of those women gain that access through their employer-sponsored health care coverage. It’s deeply troubling that today the SupremeCourt decided that corporations can now unilaterally deny their employees access to birth control. Recent health care reforms had ended the days when women unfairly faced higher health-care costs and were routinely denied access to health care coverage and services—today’s decision moves us backward. Women’s health care shouldn’t be subject to the whims of corporations and we need to continue to fight to ensure that women have equal access to health services.”

At 2:18 p.m.  — Ernst Campaign Makes Statement on Burwell v Hobby Lobby Case
Des Moines, IA – Upon the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Burwell v Hobby Lobby case, Gretchen Hamel, Joni Ernst spokesman, made the following statement:

“Joni applauds the Supreme Court for reigning in a federal government that continues to overreach and apply a one-size fits all approach on Iowa and the American people.

This case was never about limiting individual healthcare decisions – but about pushing back against the violation of religious freedom by President Obama and Bruce Braley, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

The senator they both seek to replace issued a statement as well.

At 10:18 a.m. — Harkin: Supreme Court Decision Will Limit Access to Critical Preventive Care for Everyday Working Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

“Providing consumers with access to preventive care services with no cost-sharing was a top priority for me in crafting the Affordable Care Act.  This coverage empowers Americans to make the health care decisions that are best for them and their families. For men and women alike, decisions about medical care and personal health, including birth control, should be made in consultation with their doctor, not their employer.

“Contraception is essential health care. Ninety-nine percent of women— our sisters, daughters, friends, colleagues, and neighbors—will use some form of birth control in their lifetime, and strong majorities of Americans support the notion that women should be able to make their reproductive care decisions without interference from their employer.

“I disagree strongly with today’s Supreme Court’s decision, which will limit access to critical preventive care for everyday working people in Iowa and around the country. I am heartened, however, that the Court’s narrow decision would not extend to other guaranteed health benefits from the Affordable Care Act such as blood transfusions and vaccinations.

“While the Supreme Court has ruled, this fight is far from over. Along with my colleagues in Congress, I am deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans—men and women alike—can get the health coverage they need, and we will be exploring legislative remedies to ensure that affordable contraceptive coverage remains available and accessible.”

Rather than have its male chairman or male executive director speak, the Iowa Democratic Party chose to issue a statement from its female spokesperson.

At 9:44 am — IDP Statement on Hobby Lobby Case

Des Moines – As the Supreme Court rules today on the Hobby Lobby case, Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Christina Freundlich released the following statement:

“No woman should have her access to affordable birth control cut off because of her boss’ opinion.  Yet that’s what state Sen. Joni Ernst supports, along with a constitutional “Personhood” amendment that would ban some common forms of birth control entirely and outlaw a woman’s right to choose even in the event of rape, incest, or to save the life of a mother.  This includes keeping a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy from getting the care she needs and criminalizing common forms of birth control that help them stay healthy and plan for their families – it even blocks preventative care that reduces the risk of cancer and osteoporosis.

“Time and again, state Sen. Joni Ernst wants to put her extreme ideology before the rights of Iowa women to make their own medical decisions with their doctor. That’s not fair and not what Iowa women deserve.”

The Republican Party of Iowa’s new chairman issued a statement today, but it wasn’t about the Hobby Lobby case. It was about Jack Hatch, the Democrat running against Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

@SenRandPaul hires former #IAGOP chair @sgrubbs as consultant #2016

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has hired Steve Grubbs as a consultant. Grubbs’ most recent consulting work in Iowa politics was done on behalf of Mark Jacobs, the perceived “establishment” candidate in the Iowa GOP’s 2014 U.S. Senate race. Jacobs finished third in the primary, with about 17 percent of the vote.

With the hire, Rand Paul acquires an operative not previously associated with the “liberty movement” inside the Iowa GOP.

Grubbs is a former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party and a former state legislator. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives when he was 25 years old.  When Grubbs was 31, he put his name on a statewide ballot. Grubbs ran for the Iowa Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination in 1998, for the chance to face off against Democrat Tom Harkin.  Grubbs was among a handful of ambitious Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House who wanted to crack a sort of glass ceiling in Iowa politics — the ceiling created by long-time Republican officeholders Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley (who are still holding office and seeking election 16 years later, by the way).

The primary that year was shaping up a lot like the GOP Senate primary Iowans just witnessed. Grubbs and his opponent, state senator Maggie Tinsman of neighboring Bettendorf,  were not well-known outsidethe Quad Cities. Grubbs was considered the front-runner in the race early on.

However, while Republican Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King ruled out running in 2014, then-Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot entered the race in March, just three months before the primary. Lightfoot won the GOP’s nomination with an Ernst-esque 61 percent of the vote, then lost a close race against Democratic Senator Tom Harkin that fall.

Grubbs worked for Steve Forbes presidential campaign in 2000.  I interviewed him a few years ago about the air-conditioned tent the Forbes campaign put up for the Iowa GOP Straw Poll in August of 1999. Grubbs was also brought in to briefly run the Herman Cain effort in Iowa until it ended December 3, 2011. When I asked Grubbs what one does with campaign signs for a campaign that has ended, he quipped: “You recycle.”

Read more about the Rand Paul/Steve Grubbs alliance below in the RANDPAC news release:

Iowa RANDPAC Chief Strategist Announcement

Des Moines – Senator Rand Paul named former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, Steve Grubbs, as Chief Strategist of his Iowa RANDPAC operation today.

“If we’re to be successful in putting together an effective organization to advance the cause of liberty and freedom, we need to have successful state operations. Steve’s experience as State Chair, serving in the Iowa legislature and working for five previous presidential campaigns will help us build on what we already have in place,” said Paul. “He will join A.J Spiker in Iowa, and Doug Stafford nationally, in leading the organization that I rely on to advance the cause of Liberty in Iowa and nationwide.”

Grubbs, a former Davenport legislator, is founder of Victory Enterprises, a Midwest-based political and technology consultancy firm.

“Senator Paul has the commitment to liberty and freedom that our nation is looking for in a time when the White House is relentlessly eroding both. I also believe that Rand Paul has the ability to broaden the base of our party to younger voters which is essential to the future,” said Grubbs.

Steve Grubbs has served in leadership roles for two of Senator Bob Dole’s presidential campaigns as well as Steve Forbes, Tommy Thompson and Herman Cain.

Grubbs, who currently chairs an international technology network of 3,600 tech CEO’s will also provide assistance in the inclusion of technology, social media and digital strategies into the effort.

Doug Stafford, Executive Director of RANDPAC, commented on his relationship with Grubbs, “I’ve known Steve for more than a decade. He is well-respected in Republican politics and a good strategic thinker. I look forward to working with him in the coming months.”

Grubbs joins A.J. Spiker, also a former Iowa GOP Chair, in the Iowa RANDPAC operation. Said Spiker: “I am pleased to be working with someone of the caliber of Steve Grubbs, and believe this is an important step for RANDPAC and advancing Senator Paul’s political and policy goals.”

RANDPAC is a political action committee whose goal is to elect Republicans across the United States who are committed to less government and more freedom. Senator Paul has actively traveled across the nation campaigning on behalf of Republicans and expects to maintain an aggressive schedule into 2015 and beyond.

AUDIO: New #IAGOP chair’s first speech

Former state Representative Jeff Kaufmann of Wilton was just elected chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.  He addressed the central committee members who elected him by voice vote and members of the public who are at party headquarters for the event. Listen below.

AUDIO of Kaufmann’s remarks, 12:30

AUDIO from the #IA03 nominating convention

If you want to relive the day or hear how it all transpired, I’ve posted audio from the speeches the candidates (or their designee) gave this past Saturday at the Iowa Republican Party’s third congressional district nominating convention at Des Moines Christian High School in Urbandale.  The “mult box” which provides an audio feed from the sound system did not work.  The first few audio files are “wild sound” from the room. The last several are audio files from a recorder I was able to place on the lectern, however many of the candidates took the microphone and roamed around the stage, so that audio isn’t crystal clear either.

AUDIO of first round of speeches before first round of voting. After the delegates’ ballots were counted, the candidates finished in this order: Brad Zaun 130, Monte Shaw 118, Matt Schultz 95, David Young 86, Robert Cramer 75 & Joe Grandanette 7.

AUDIO of second round of speeches before second round of voting. For some reason, the lowest vote-getter in the first round was not tossed out, so Grandanette’s is the first voice you hear.  In the second round, the candidates finished in this order: Zaun 157; Shaw 122; Schultz 88; Young 81; Cramer 60; Grandanette 2.

AUDIO of third round of speeches before third round of voting. Cramer was the first to speak, and he took himself out of contention.  In the third round, the candidates finished in this order: Zaun 188; Shaw 126; Young 102; Schultz 85.

AUDIO of fourth round of speeches before fourth round of voting. Although Schultz had been dropped from this round of voting, Young gave Schultz a chance to speak — and Schultz asked delegates who had voted for him to support Young. In the fourth round, the candidates finished in this order: Zaun 206; Young 171; Shaw 120.

AUDIO of fifth round of speeches before fifth and FINAL round of voting.  The final tally: Young 276, Zaun 221

Click here to listen to Young’s speech to delegates after he had been announced as the winner.

The final tally: Young 276, Zaun 221

David Young won with 276 delegates’ support compared to Brad Zaun’s 221.

The key, as you’ll see below in the county tallies, is the Polk County delegation (Zaun’s home county)un 221

Adair: Young 6

Adams: Young 3

Cass: Young 9, Zaun 3

Dallas: Young 41, Zaun 14

Fremont: Young 1, Zaun 4

Guthrie: Young 6, Zaun 3

Madison: Young 9, Zaun 4

Mills: Zaun 5, Young 7

Montgomery: Young 2, Zaun 6

Page: Young 4, Zaun 5

Polk: Young 126, Zaun 126

Pottawattamie: Young 34, Zaun 26

Ringgold: Young 4

Taylor: Zaun 5

Union: Young 8

Warren: Young 16, Zaun 20