Vander Plaats on running against the wind & other subjects

Bob Vander Plaats, the president and C.E.O. of The FAMiLY Leader, is the guest on this coming weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” but the show was taped last Thursday to accommodate the holiday schedule.  You can watch it here on IPTV’s website or see it Friday at 7:30 p.m. on IPTV.

On the set before the show’s taping started last Thursday, Vander Plaats joked about getting some sort of “frequent flier” benefits from IPTV.  (There didn’t appear to be a PBS coffee mug or video of The Lawrence Welk Show handy, however.) Vander Plaats has been on Iowa Press several times over the past decade, first as a gubernatorial candidate in 2002, 2006 and 2010; then this past fall as the leader of the effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 judicial retention election.  Before that October, 2010, show began, Vander Plaats joked with people on the set that his theme song over the past decade has been “Running Against the Wind.”

If you watch this week’s show, you’ll see Vander Plaats talk about the efforts of three incoming Republican legislators to draft articles of impeachment against the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court.  Vander Plaats told reporters after the show he’d prefer the justices resign rather than be impeached — but Vander Plaats predicted the justices would be impeached if they don’t resign.

Vander Plaats also hinted to reporters last Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) is politically vulnerable because of Gronstal’s pledge to block a vote on a resolution which would let Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Iowa.  Gronstal has repeated that pledge over and over since April, 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling which paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa.  Vander Plaats said the people are Iowa are tired of “groveling to Gronstal” on the issue. 

A couple of weeks ago Dave Roederer, Branstad’s transition chief, was asked about the relationship between Vander Plaats and Governor-elect Terry Branstad.  (Branstad, Vander Plaats and state legislator Rod Roberts were the three Republicans who competed in this past June’s GOP Primary for governor.  In case you’re just waking up from a long nap, Branstad won the GOP Primary & the Iowa General Election.)  While Roberts has been asked to join Branstad’s administration as director of the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals, Vander Plaats has not been asked to fill any role, not even an advisory one. Roederer said the relationship between Branstad and Vander Plaats was “good” and Vander Plaats isn’t being invited into the Branstad administration because it appears Vander Plaats has moved on to a new role at The FAMiLY Leader.

During this week’s “Iowa Press” program, Vander Plaats talked about his relationship with Branstad. 

Mike Glover of the Associated Press: You ran against Governor-elect Branstad in the primary. Talk a little bit about your relationship with Governor Branstad.

Vander Plaats: Well, the relationship of me and Governor Branstad, I don’t know how relevant that is. What I do know about Governor Branstad…

Glover: If you’re going to have a future in Republican politics you’re going to have to factor that in.

Vander Plaats: Yeah and I think vice versa as well. I think it’s a deal of I know where he’s come as it relates to the courts. I mean, when he got on record and he said he only wanted justices that disagreed with the Varnum opinion, when he said he wants people who understand there’s a true separation of powers, the genius of the founding fathers — those are all steps in the right direction. Here’s the thing: if he only wants justices that disagree with the Varnum opinion of April 3, 2009, it’s very disingenuous for the other four to remain on the court. So, a lot of things that he is saying, you know, we’re applauding right now and at that press conference I did applaud him for the moves he has made in that direction.

Iowa Press moderator Dean Borg: But what you’re saying when you said vice versa — I interpret that as saying he needs me.

Vander Plaats: I don’t know if he needs me that much and I think that’s overplayed a lot. There’s no doubt we have significant support. There is a lot of people in the state of Iowa who are very concerned about pro-family issues. And I don’t think they’re all that concerned about, ‘Does Bob Vander Plaats and Terry Branstad — do they have coffee together on any particular morning?’ They want to know, ‘Can they work together on advancing pro-family issues?’ And I think we can. I think you’re seeing that being played out with this judge process. He is on record as saying we need to change the way we appoint justices to the high court. So, all of those things are showing moves in the right direction and we’re going to applaud him when he does that. If he does something that is anti-family, we’re going to hold him in check.

During the program Vander Plaats called on state legislators to tighten Iowa’s law on late term abortions and he discussed the 2012 presidential campaign at the end of the show.  Vander Plaats said it will take a “consistent conservative” to win the hearts and minds of Republican voters in 2012.

Vander Plaats also suggested GOP candidates may want to “be the Fred Thompson” of the 2012 cycle and enter the race late, after Labor Day, like Thompson did in September of 2008. But Vander Plaats also suggested to be successful on that Fred Thompson route, a candidate needs to add a dose of charisma to inspire voters in a way that Thompson failed to do when Thompson entered late ‘o8.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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