Romney at Rube’s

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign invited folks to Rube’s Steakhouse in Montour for lunch today — a sirloin steak, baked potato, and salad were on the menu.  Rube’s is known for letting customers grill their own steaks, but for this occasion Rube’s owner Matt Anderson and his staff grilled the sirloin themselves. 

Once he got there Romney chatted with folks as they came in, then made his way up and down the tables introducing himself to the 130 people who were seated, slicing up their sirloins.  It was a room decorated with red-checkered table cloths and neon-sign advertisements for beer, including one sign appealing to hunters with its neon outline of a pheasant with the declaration "Budweiser Iowa" underneath.  Alcohol was not offered for this noon-hour event, however.  Coffee, tea, water and lemonade were the liquid options. Romney chose lemonade, which he poured for himself, managing to balance the glass of lemonade and his plate of salad in one hand as he greeted folks who came by with the other hand.

Moments earlier, Romney had been followed through the salad line by one of his new Iowa hires — former Iowa 2006 congressional candidate/Lamar Alexander ’96 and John McCain ’00 aide/former Iowa GOP chairman Brian Kennedy, who’s living in Bettendorf these days.  Romney’s last salad line decision was to choose French dressing, prompting his Iowa press aide Tim Albrecht to jokingly suggest it was "Freedom Dressing."

Romney gave his standard speech to the crowd, then opened the floor to questions.  One person asked about national security.

Romney praised the question, then said, "We were chatting just here, also, about what you do when the media doesn’t communicate necessarily the full picture.  Part of the job of being a president is to communicate to the American people and have them understand what it is that we face and let’s not shortchange that responsiblity.  Recognize that for most people in America when they think about what’s going on in the MIddle East they just think about a group of wackos in the mountains of Afghanistan and they think that there’s just this little group and if we could just catch Osama bin Laden and if we could just get out of Iraq, everything would be fine but that’s not the way it is. 

"There’s a global effort, there’s a global jihad that comes in different factions — Sunni and Shi’ia, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood — but its intent is to cause the unification of all these lands under a religious leader and that causes, that requires us to collapse as a super power.  That can’t happen.  It must not happen. 

"Now, there are a number of things we’re going to have to do.  One is with regards to Iran.  In my view, Iran is the center and the greatest threat to our long-term stability and security, at least as it relates to this jihadist effort because Iran is developing nuclear technology with the very clear intension of completely destabilizing the world and potentially using that weaponry. 

"What do you do with Iran?  Well, you saw that Hillary Clinton said we should negotiate with ’em.  You don’t negotiate from a position of weakness. You don’t negotiate and sit down formally at a negotiating table when to do so would signal to Ahmadinejad’s population that he’s won a big victory against the United States.  He’s someone who is on a thin lifeline right now in his country having lost some recent elections at the local level and we don’t want to hand him a lifeline.  We, instead, want to make sure that the people of that country realize that if they go down a nuclear path they’ll see tougher and tougher economic sanctions, more and more diplomatic isolation.  They are going to see a rejection by the more moderate Arab nations around them and they’re going to recognize that that’s the wrong course.

"So I believe that we, in the case of Iran, of course we talk behind the scenes. We talk through our friends the E3 — from the UK, France and Germany — who are leading negotiations, but we don’t give Ahmadinejad the pride of having us sit down opposite from him at the bargaining table. 

"You’re going to have the same issue with regards to North Korea. In North Korea, perhaps the nation that has the biggest influence will be China.  China needs us very badly right now.  They have 20 million people a year coming in off the farms that are going into the cities they want to employ. They want access to our market, of course.  We like free trade, it’s good for us.  It’s good for them.  We want to open up their market, by the way, to our goods. But that being said, China has enormous influence on North Korea.  Working with China to put a little more pressure on North Korea is essential for us to get North Korea to back away from this nuclear path of peril they’ve begun to walk down.

"These are some of the ideas.  I’m happy to take it further, but let me just tell you, you go back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt and he spoke about something that made a lot of sense:  ‘speak softly but carry a big stick.’  Our military needs to be stronger.  We have too few troops in our military.  I haven’t got the exact number for you, but at least 100,000 more are needed in our United States military.  Updated equipment. Updated armaments. Strategic defense initiative. A strong miltiary. 

"But there’s another side of our effort to win the world and that is to make sure that we’re helping support the moderate, modern Islamic efforts in countries that are modern.  We want to see them have good public schools, financial systems that can do microloans and provide mortgages, agricultural and economic policies that will allow them to sell products into the modern world.  We have to help move those moderate nations to a stronger position so that the Muslims can reject the extreme because when it’s all said and done, only the Muslims themselves are going to be able to reject the violent jihadists."

The next question was about immigration policy and the questioner referred to the recent raid at the Swift meatpacking plant in Marshalltown.  "Do you favor building a wall?" the man asked.

"Here are my thoughts with regards to immigration," Romney began.  "One:  I love immigration.  I love legal immigrants coming into our country…"  (Read the rest in the Radio Iowa story on this subject.) .

Rube’s, by the way, is not meant to be a reference to hayseeds or hicks.  The restaurant is named after its founder, Glen Rubenbauer (nickname: Rube).  The establishment seats more people than live within the city limits of Montour. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. I like this guy! He makes far more sense than any other presidential candidate!
    Go, Romney!