At 7 p.m. “Fly Like an Eagle” — the 1976 classic by the Steve Miller Band — was broadcast through the Veterans Memorial Auditorium Ballroom #3 (in the newly remodeled part). This is the venue for this evening’s Iowa GOP fundraiser featuring a keynote from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The room is set up to seat 272 people, but it appears in the neighborhood of 250 have shown up.
At 7:14 p.m. Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker got the evening started with a brief prayer and the pledge. His biggest burst of applause came when he declared this goal: “take back the Iowa Senate and send Mike Gronstal back to Council Bluffs.”
At 7:25 p.m. Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds begins speaking. (Governor Terry Branstad stopped by the cocktail hour, but left to attend a Make-A-Wish Foundation event. “We’re sittin’ a lot better than a lot of other states out there and we’re pretty proud of that,” she said. ”…In order to keep Iowa moving forward, we need a conservative majority in the House and the Senate and we’re going to need your help to get that done…Let’s make it clear that we won’t compromise the American dream or American exceptionalism anymore.”
By 7:30 p.m. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is introduced to the crowd by Iowa GOP co-chair Bill Schickle as a senator who can “tweet with the very best of them.” That gets a few twitters of laughter.
AUDIO of Grassley’s remarks.
“Between now and election, nothin’ will have my attention, time or effort more than helping to defeat President Obama,” Grassley told the crowd. Grassley accused Obama of being “the chief excuser” rather than a chief executive.
“He will not accept responsibility for what he has not done to improve the economy,” Grassley said. suggesting Obama has used excuses/leveled the blame at George W. Bush, the Japanese earthquake and even bad luck.
Grassley called Obama a “great pretender” as well. ”He pretends that he has not been president for the last 3 years. He campaigns as he did 4 years ago on hope & change and now he campaign on hype and blame. America deserves better.”
Next Grassley called Obama the “great divider” who wages “class warfare.”
“He promotes envy and jealousy,” Grassley said. “….He wants fewer rich people – and I want fewer poor people.”
Grassley closed with this: “If we unite and if we work hard, we can stop this nonsense.”
Congressman Tom Latham (R-Clive, Iowa) is next up, jokes to the crowd: “I hope Grassley never gets mad at me.”
Latham blasted a “larger, more intrusive” federal government. ”People have in their guts today the feeling that we are losing our country,” Latham said.
Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron, Iowa) was on the stage by 7:43 p.m. “I want to tell you what’s good about Iowa, then I’ll beat up on the other side and I’ll feel better.”
King focused on the presidential campaign. “He’s not over. This isn’t done,” King said of Obama. “The POTUS & David Axelrod have a plan…We’re (in Iowa) going to say ‘no.’ …You’re going to be a one-term president.”
While both Latham and then King mentioned Latham’s fall match-up against Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines, King did not mention his likely Democratic opponent in November, Christie Vilsack.
At 7:51 p.m. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz started speaking. He focused on his call to require a photo ID for voting in Iowa. Says he’s handed out a thousand bumper stickers touting the concept.
At 7:54 p.m. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey started speaking. ”Six months from tomorrow is one of the biggest days we will ever see,” Northey said. “…We have a real significant impact on what the congressional make-up is (in 2013), based on races here in the state.”
At 8:02 p.m., Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) gets to the stage & focused on why the 2012 legislative session has not concluded. “We’re fighting about money. We were fighting about money last year and we consistently had to rebuff efforts to try to find new ways to spend money,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen talked about this past week’s property tax reform discussion, suggesting House Republicans had been accused of not being “team players.”
He suggested: “That all depends on who the team is, isn’t it?”
Paulsen blasted the “intellectual elite” and offered this blunt assessment of a property tax relief proposal advanced this past Thursday by Senate Democrats: “It’s a piece of junk. It doesn’t protect the home owners and House Republicans will not pass that bill.”
At 8:08 p.m. House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) got her chance to speak & keeps it brief. At 8:12 p.m. a video introduction begins playing, focused on health care reform. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be next.
At 8:16 p.m. KC is speaking. “Thank y’all very much,” he began. “…If you ever picked a year to leave it all on the field, 2012 is the year.”
He mentioned that both Iowa and Virginia are swing states in the fall election, then launched into a discussion of “federalism” — telling the crowd that is the subject matter he’d been asked to speak about this evening.
He tells the crowd he’s been outspent in every one of his races, but one because he promised to protect the “first principles” and “people came out of the woodwork” to support him.
He did not refer to Romney, but said he’s hoping for a Republican victory over Obama in November. “Come January 2013, we’re pulling for boredom in my office,” KC said, suggested he wouldn’t have to “push back” against an activist federal government.
According to KC, “the founding fathers intended for us (the states) to provide that check” on the federal government.
“We have no excuses,” KC said of the upcoming Romney v Obama battle at the ballot box. “We have been too blessed for excuses.”
He called the federal health care reform law a “lousy bill” and he accused the Obama Administration of “suffocating liberty.”
“Americans are smart. They wise up. Virginia was the first state to go to court. We waited, oh, 35 minutes or so after the president signed the bill and filed suit,” he said, getting applause.
He drew polite laughter for this joke about the health care reform law: ”I believe that the earthquake in Virginia was caused by James Madison rolling over in his grave.”
KC gets his loudest applause yet (and I heard one hoot) by decrying the part of the law that requires Americans to buy health insurance.
He joked that the”founding father they have the most trouble with is Noah Webster” when it comes to some of the legal arguments before the Supreme Court.
He also suggested the Obama Administration — if they win the SupCo case — was “going to make you buy GM….They’re going to make you buy a Chevy Equinox. I have a Chevy Equinox and you don’t want to buy a Chevy Equinox….Hopefully not. Hopefully the Supreme Court will return us the foundational principles…and put this govt back inside the constitutional box it belongs in….This lawsuit is not about health care….It’s about liberty.”
If the SupCo throws out the health care reform law, it would stop “the New Deal” as well, he said.
“They think the constitution is a quaint piece of art from the 18th century,” he said. “…As attorneys general, we’re the last line of defense…When there aren’t enough folks in Washington to reign in government…then it falls to state to push back…but we need cavalry….We need to get back on offense.”
He quoted Ronald Reagan. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction….or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children…what it was once like in America.”
He added his own words in closing: “We’re going to have a new America come 2013.” Speech over at 8:41 p.m. A video message from Governor & Mrs. Mitt Romney starts playing as the last part of the program. It’s Ann Romney, talking about her husband, focusing on the character issue. This is the first time Romney’s name has been mentioned this evening.