Romney, Pataki, Brownback at GOP State Convention

As I log on to type, Chuck Grassley has just begun speaking to the GOP delegates and this is what he told those who might have a beef with their president:  "The overall record is good, so we ought to just suck it up and move on." 

Moving back, I showed up at the Hy-Vee Hall at about 8:30, just in time to hear Doug Gross introduce Mitt Romney to a crowd of about 300 who were either attracted into the room to hear the Massachusetts governor or were attracted for the full-on breakfast (those who were late to the party got smaller plates, no coffee and no eating utensils according to a first-person report from participant T).  The room was so full former Governor Ray and his wife had to stand near the back with the reporters.

Doug Gross, Romney’s lead person on the ground in IA, revealed Romney has hired three staff people to work in Iowa on GOP campaigns.  "We will be tireless in our efforts to elect Repubicans.  Please join us." 

Oops.  Grassley’s just now getting a standing O for saying that he voted wrong in the ’80s when he voted to give amnesty to illegal immigrants who were here and he won’t do it again — legalize illegality.  Long period of applause.

Now, back to Gross.  Gross told the olften-told story of Romney taking over the Salt Lake City Olympics when it had a 300 million dollar deficit and turning things all the way around. 

Romney took the stage:  "Boy, I wish he were governor of Iowa," he said of Gross, to which the audience applauded.  (Gross ran for governor in 2002.)  Romney told the story of how he did consulting work for Fisher Controls in Mtown.  Said he was surprised to be back in Iowa.  Lead up to a joke involving his wife, who he asked if she had ever in her wildest dreams thought they’d be returning to Iowa.  "Mitt, you haven’t been in my wildest dreams," she is purported to reply in the governor’s story.

Romney then introduced his wife ("my high school sweetheart"), who said a few words, and then introduced his son, Josh, who said a few words (the Romneys have five grown children).  Then Romney embarked on his speech.  "I didn’t get into politics to find a career or find a profession," he said.  He told several stories we reporters have heard often — the Mike ee-ROO-zee-oh-nee story (I don’t know how to spell the last name of the goaltender for the 1980 US hockey team), the silver medalist story, the crying at the National Athem during the Olympics references. 

Here are some other random quotes from my notes:  "I love this country but I recognize we face some very challenging times."  "This is no criminal activity.  This is war."  "If we aren’t careful, we’ll end up the France of the 21st century."  (quoting cowboy poet Will Rodgers ahead) "Even if you’re on the right track, you’ve got to move or you’ll get run over." 

He got some huge applause when he derided the federal deficit and called for cleaning up the buget practices in Washington.  The people who applauded will be the same people who will vote for House Budget Committee chair Jim Nussle, their GOP gubernatorial nominee.

REAL TIME UPDATE:  Tom Latham just told the crowd that "Mike Whalen is a whale of a candidate."  He got more applause, though, when he urged the crowd to help Jeff Lamberti win.

Back to the breakfast:  Romney closed by talking about gay marriage.  He said The family is the absolute foundation of our culture."  He mentioned the book the Purpose Driven Life.  "Some people think we’re intolerant of other people’s lifestyles," Romney said. Later, he outlined why he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman:  "Marriage is not about adults and adult rights.  Marriage is primarily about the nuturing of children and every child deserves a mother and a father." 

Romeny quoted his father:  "Pursuit of the difficult makes men strong."  He quoted Abigail Adams  "Great necessities call out great virtues." 

New York Governor George Pataki was hanging out at Chuck Grassley’s breakfast reception, wihch wasn’t as well-attended perhaps because there was less food and no chairs when compared to Romney’s sit-down meal.  I missed Pataki’s remarks there because I was listening to Romney.

Four reporters including me met up with Pataki right outside Hy-Vee Hall, by the C-SPAN bus that’s parked there today.  Pataki suggested "the three of you" which would be me, Mike Glover of the AP and James Lynch of the Gazette form a tight circle around him make David Yepsen stand outside it.  Pataki was asked by Glover about 2006 prospects, and Pataki said Republicans would do well if they stick to their core issues.  "I understand why people are saying (2006 won’t be a good year for the GOP) but if we stick to our principles" Republicans will win, he said.  "There’s no reason we can’t have great successes."

I asked Pataki if he was going to have staff on the ground to help campaigns (to find out if he was doing as Romeny is) but he said a decision on that will come later down the road.  Lynch followed up and tried to get more info, but Pataki dodged the question again.  Pataki said he was going to speak wherever invited, etc.

He shook hands with the male reporters and called them by name.  I don’t think he knows me, as he didn’t say "Kay, great to see you" he said "Great to see you" when he shook my hand.  I asked him how NH was, and he said it was great, then shared this nuggett:  "I actually own a farm along the Canadian border…(in New York)….so I’m the only candidate who has to go south to go to New Hampshire."  And for those who read this blog regularly, Pataki DID mention the breakfast burrito during one of his answers but alas, he has not been at the market this am to have one (neither have I).

I think John Cox is introducing himself to folks up and down press row here, but he skipped me because I’m typing away.  I bumpbed into Kansas Senator Sam Brownback just outside the hall here a while ago.  A GOP delegate was asking him about the Senate’s immigration bill.  Brownback was being shepharded around by Chuck Hurley, former GOP legislator who heads the Iowa Family Policy Council and Marriage Matters now.  The woman who was talking to Brownback told him she wanted him tosupport our president.

I will log off now to get a refreshing beverage.  I’ll be back to try to live blog Jim Nussle’s speech.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. I’ve got pictures and another perspective about the Romney Breakfast at I’ve linked to this report here as well.