Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to help Branstad raise money for 2014

Tomorrow night Iowa’s Republican governor and lieutenant governor are holding a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids.  Terry Branstad was elected to a fifth term as governor in 2010.  The money Branstad will be raising tomorrow night isn’t for the 2012 election. It will go into Branstad’s campaign fund. This morning during his weekly news conference, Branstad said this about whether he’s raising money for race #6: “Let’s just say, we’re keeping our options open.”

Here’s the invitation for tomorrow night’s event: 

Branstad said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is returning a favor.

“First of all, you may recall back before the recall election in Wisconsin we held a fundraiser in Dubuque for Governor Scott Walker and I was delighted with the response we received and Governor Walker has offered to reciprocate and support the lieutenant governor with this event,” Branstad said this morning.

You may also recognize the name of the host of this event.  Steve Gray is trying to rust up a group of investors for a casino in Linn County. 

Branstad described Gray as “a long time friend.”

“I’ve known him because of his business experience in Cedar Rapids,” Branstad said. “With regard to the gambling license issue, I think that’s an issue to be resolved by the Racing & Gaming Commission. It’s always been my position not to take a position on those things. I think the most important thing is to look out to protect the integrity of the state and everybody that I’ve appointed to the Racing & Gaming Commission I’ve said, ‘Your responsibility is not to promote gambling, but to look at what is going to be best for protecting the integrity of the state and making sure that is paramount.”

You may also notice on the invitation above the name of Gary Kirke, the driving forward behind the Wild Rose casinos in Emmetsburg & Clinton.  I asked Branstad this morning if the prospect of a casino license for Cedar Rapids would come up tomorrow over cocktails.

“I don’t expect that it will,” Branstad said. “First of all, this is really an opportunity for us to spend some time with a great friend, Scott Walker, who has shown great courage and has made a real difference in his state of Wisconsin. He inherited an even bigger financial mess than we did and he’s made great progress in turning that around, as we have.”

Le Cordon Bleu for you?

The folks who run the statehouse cafeteria put up a couple of tables, covered them with white table cloths and set up a buffet line for fancy salads today. Diners can choose chicken or shrimp as a final topping, which as you can see in the picture is heated for the diner by the staff with the fancy hats. Adding to the ambiance (?), there’s a boom box behind the tables playing music. A Michael Jackson tune was blasting when I walked by at about 11:30. The salad costs $6.45. The smell of cooking shrimp wafting through the building: priceless.

Branstad picks ice cream over pie

And now, something new from our new/old governor. Governor Terry Branstad emerged from his private statehouse office early this afternoon to chat with grocers visiting the statehouse. The Iowa Grocers Association provided a spread for legislators: pieces of apple pie, cherry pie, cups of vanilla ice cream, and cups of coffee.

Branstad had ice cream and a cup of coffee, greeted a group of very excited schoolchildren, chatted with grocers, and then ran back up the stairs to his first floor office. He beat his press secretary, Tim Albrecht, up the steps.

Competing Rallies

Tax Day Tea Party Rally, Des Moines IA

Read the Radio Iowa story about today’s event here. At noon, when the event was to start, state troopers estimated the crowd at nearly 700.  An hour later, more people had trickled in and the crowd estimate rose to about 1200.  By about 2 p.m., the estimate was between 1500 and 2000.  That’s less than half as many people who turned out for last year’s Tax Day Tea Party Rally at the statehouse.

I asked Drew Ivers,  Ron Paul’s 2008 state chairman, about the turnout.  (There were many Ron Paul supporters in the crowd, wearing a variety of Ron Paul t-shirts.) Ivers had anticipated turnout would be down this year for the Tea Party event.  He says many people go to a rally, believe they’ve done their duty and voiced their opinion, then they check back out of the political process.

The other notable thing about today’s rally:  I found just one person with a poster that had Barack Obama’s name on it and the man holding that poster was holding the side with the Obama reference against his chest.  The wording on the other side said: “WITHOUT ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT EXIST.”  (TV cameras caught some posters with Obama’s name; I walked through the crowd at 11:50 a.m. and again at about 12:50 p.m.)

The handwritten posters I saw had general themes, like “where are the jobs?” and “just plain fed up.”  I’m fairly sure three people spoke to the crowd before Obama’s name was even mentioned from the lectern. A group of fifth graders from Johnston who were there with their teacher mentioned names like Charlie Rangel, Alcee Hastings and Timothy Geitner.  The crowd laughed and applauded the kids’ schtick, which was “Hey Washington, D.C.  Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”

One of the boys asked: “Why does President Obama spread the wealth when socialism has never worked?”   The biggest applause line for the kids: “Why does our government demonize big oil when the government makes more in taxes from the sale of a gallon of gasoline than the oil companies do?”

Doug Burnett, the event’s first speaker, urged the crowd to stress the positive rather than the negative.

“Let’s watch our words.  Thoughts become attitudes, attitudes become words and words become actions.  I hear too often people saying, ‘I’m scared.  I’m scared for my country. I’m scared for my way of life’ and I don’t doubt the sincerity of that sentiment, but I do question the accuracy of the words.

“Scared is negative.  It’s powerless.  It’s debilitating.  Scared is what happens when you wake up in the middle of the night to that bump, right?

“We’re frustrated.  We’re angry.  We’re concerned and trust me, many times I look at our elected leaders and I see the boogey man, but we are the Tea Party and we aren’t scared of anything.  Are you scared?  We don’t do scared.

“Think of words that are positive and accurate, like ‘I’m engaged. I’m empowered. I’m moved to action.'”

A final note: the Des Moines Tea Party organizers said they wouldn’t allow “politicians” to speak at their event, but…

Bob Vander Plaats, a GOP candidate for governor, attended the event in Des Moines but did not speak.  However, State Senator David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf, was allowed to speak.  Hartsuch donned a white lab coat and spoke as “Dr. David Hartsuch” as he is an emergency room physician.  Hartsuch was the GOP candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district in 2008.

First sign of spring?

No parking on grass

Intrepid photographer Mary took this photo in the East Capitol parking lot on Tuesday. Choose one of the following captions, or suggest one of your own (hit the comment link above:

  • Hope Springs Eternal
  • Will It Ever Be Spring?
  • No Skateboarding or Rollerblading Either!
  • Is That Exclamation Point Necessary?