Iowa congressional delegation statements re: bin Laden

Four Iowa congressmen issued statements shortly after President Obama announced the world’s most-wanted man had been killed in a U.S. military operation.

Waterloo, IA — Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death:

“Today the world is a safer place. Tonight’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces is good news for all Americans. Nearly ten years after his cowardly attacks on innocent Americans and citizens of the world, and on the eighth anniversary of declaring “Mission Accomplished,” we can finally close a tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Our troops have made tremendous sacrifices, with many lives lost and many changed forever, and we must never forget the real cost of this war on terror.”

Des Moines, IA – Congressman Leonard Boswell released the following statement after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

“After hearing the news of Osama bin Laden’s death tonight, I immediately thought of our men and women in uniform who have bravely fought al Qaeda forces in the pursuit of the man responsible for attacking our nation on September 11, 2001,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell, who recently returned from a congressional trip to Afghanistan. “President Obama and our military leaders should be commended for their steadfast commitment to pursuing Osama bin Laden and his followers. I look forward to joining Iowa’s military families in welcoming our brave troops as they return home.”

WASHINTGON, DC- Congressman Loebsack issued the following statement after President Obama’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been confirmed dead.

“Tonight’s announcement is a testament to the men and women of our armed forces’ and intelligence community’s commitment to tracking down the man responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Americans.  Tonight stands as a profound chapter in our nation’s fight against those who work every day to do harm to the American people.  Even as we mark this day, however, we must remain vigilant – the threat against the American people remains and there are those who may seek revenge. The safety of our nation is paramount. Having just travelled to Islamabad to discuss critical counter-terrorism issues, and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work to ensure the security of our nation.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham issued the following statement after President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed:

“The reign of a ruthless killer has been brought to an end.  The death of Osama bin Laden is welcome news for America and her allies around the globe.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the military and intelligence officials who carried out this operation.  This is a critical victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.  God bless the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and God bless the United States of America.”

Neither of Iowa’s U.S. Senators issued statements Sunday evening, nor did Congressman Steve King.

Ron Paul forms 2012 exploratory committee (AUDIO)

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988 and a GOP candidate in 2008, has just announced he has formed an exploratory committee for a bid for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  More importantly,  Paul has announced an “Iowa Leadership Team” that includes Drew Ivers of Webster City, Iowa.  Ivers was chairman of Paul’s 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign.  Ivers also worked on Pat Buchanan’s 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns and he worked for Pat Robertson’s 1988 campaign.  Ivers is also part of Paul’s Campaign for Liberty network.

David Fischer, an engineer from Ivy, Iowa, will serve as vice chair of Paul’s Iowa Leadership Team.  Fischer is currently a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s state central committee.  He also helped escort Kentucky Senator Rand Paul around a couple of weeks ago during Rand Paul’s first trip to Iowa.

The other vice chair of the Paul effort in Iowa is A.J. Spiker. a realtor from Ames. Spiker has been active in the Story County GOP, recently serving as its chairman.

Ivers, Fischer & Spiker are all members of the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee. “After 35 years of political activism, I have not seen another candidate with more integrity, character…and courage that Ron Paul,” Ivers said.  Ivers said Paul was “perhaps destined to be America’s leader.”  He called Paul “Washington’s conscience” on fiscal issues and the “soul” of the Republican Party’s limited gov’t tradition.

“The immorality of spending money we don’t have is perhaps the gravest threat we face,” Ivers said. “…We will be able to build an organization and compete very well in this firs-ttin-the-nation Caucus state.”

Fischer made comments next. “I’ve watched my own party stray farther from its principles…I’ve stepped up to lead my party, to call the GOP back to its roots…of bringing us a constrained government…Ron Paul is a real Republican,” Fischer said, adding Paul’s vision was the “future of conservatism in America…Ron Paul is the right Republican with the right message at the right time.”

Spiker was next, speaking very briefly.  Paul then answered questions.

“The country is already quite different…millions of more people are concerned about the things I talked about four years ago…conditions are deteriorating,” Paul said.  “…It will be a much, much more significant campaign.”

In response to the second question: “I do see a lot of support,” Paul said, adding a few moments later: “I do intend to make a firm decision (about a race) in the not too distant future.”

A question about why Ron Paul rather than Rand Paul elicited a “you’ll have to ask him” response.

He was asked about Federal Reserve policy, but the question came from the back of the room, but Paul couldn’t hear and his aide had to repeat the question to him.   “The infaltionary problems, the creation of new money is historic,” Paul said.  “World history has never seen the monetary inflation that we have seen in the past couple of years…Higher prices will be the key issue in next year’s election…When it’s the American consumer who suffers…and then they see interest rates cropping up, this is a big deal and it is related to the Federal Reserve system.”

He didn’t take any more questions.  “I thank you for coming,” he said, walking out of the room.

Listen: RonPaulApril26

Iowa reaction to Barbour’s decision

Iowa Republicans don’t seem terribly surprised by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s decision NOT to run for president.

“I’m neither surprised nor shocked,” State Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) said.

State Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Indianola, has signed on to spearhead Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign effort — if she runs.  “I think it was very clear that (Barbour) was not somebody who was going to appeal to Iowans,” Sorenson said during an interview moments ago in the statehouse.  “I think he speaks in a rhetoric from the ’80s and I think the Republicans in Iowa are drastically different from that time period.”

Barbour ruffled conservative’s feathers in late June of 2009 when he gave a speech at an Iowa GOP event. Barbour cited Ronald Reagan’s “80/20” rule.

Barbour issued a written statemen today, speaking of the “fire in the belly” standard.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.  His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate.  I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required,” Barbour said.

State Senator Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, suggests that lack of an all-consuming passion is the key. “Taking on the challenge of getting a presidential campaign up and running would be a big task and if you recognize you don’t have the fire in the belly for it, he made the right choice,” Dix said.

As for that “passion” thing, Monte Shaw, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, saw it from the other perspective.  “As I travel around (Iowa)…I didn’t ever run into someone who said, you know, ‘I’m going to put my life on hold and work for Haley Barbour if he throws his hat in the ring,” Shaw said.

AUDIO: Christie Vilsack talks about campaign

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack just called into the Radio Iowa newsroom to ahve a conversation with me about running for congress.  Listen: Christievilsack (mp3 runs about 9 minutes).

Here’s Vilsack’s answer to a question about the voter registration edge in the district (GOP has the edge in the new fourth district): 

“I looked at the numbers and they were pretty much the same as when Tom ran for governor all across Iowa and I think it’s a winnable district. Everybody I’ve talked to and all the people who are working with me think it’s a winnable district and I think it’s the most winnable district for me. I am a small town person and this is a district of small towns flanked by two or three really good-sized Iowa cities and I just think, all things considered, I thought it was the best district and I’m in it to run. I’m in it to win and if I decide to get to get in it, when the time comes after my exploration is done, then I’m going to go for it and I think this is the best place to win.”

I’ll be back with more from the interview, including Vilsack’s response to Governor Branstad’s “fish out of water” assertion and her own husband’s characterization of a Christie Vilsack versus Steve King match-up as a “holy war.”

UPDATEHere’s the Radio Iowa story.  From that story:

On her husband’s “holy war” statement: “Well, I think my husband two days ago wasn’t the spouse of a potential candidate and I don’t think he’s got the spouse thing down quite yet,” she told Radio Iowa. “But today he is and I think he’ll be able to stand next to me and be supportive.”

On Branstad’s “fish out of water” staement: “I could have run in any of Iowa’s districts because I feel like all Iowa is my home,” Vilsack said this morning.  “But, you know, I was in Emmetsburg in the parade at St. Patrick’s Day, right behind (Governor Branstad) and I’ve been in Crawford County — I’ve been traveling all over that district for the last 12 or 14 years and they’re my people and I feel very comfortable with them and I feel like it’s the best district for me as I reviewed it.”

I also asked her why she didn’t run against Congressman Boswell (D-Des Moines) in the new third district or against Congressman Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon, moving to Iowa City)  in the new second: “I really used quite a process and spent a long time trying to decide, really, what’s best for me and my family, what district fits me best and what’s best for my party,” Vilsack said. “…I wanted to run where I had the best chance of winning and I think I have the best chance of winning in the new fourth.”

Andrea Bozek of the National Republican Congressional Committee emailed the following:

After floating her name for practically every political office in Iowa, Democrat Christie Vilsack today announced her plans to move into Iowa’s new 4TH Congressional District to run against Republican Rep. Steve King.

 Please consider the following quote as you follow Vilsack’s announcement.

“Considering Vilsack’s support for the government takeover of healthcare she will fit right in with liberal Nancy Pelosi’s big government and spending agenda. Iowa voters understand that sending Vilsack to Washington will only result in more debt and a vote to try to put Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s Chair. ” – NRCC Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek

 New District Breakdown:

 Steve King has represented nearly half of the new Fourth District since 2002.

 McCain received 50.2% in the new fourth.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad received 59.4% in the new fourth.

Christie Vilsack seems “in” for fourth district showdown

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack and her husband, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (the current U.S. Agriculture Secretary), are moving to Ames, Iowa, and Vilsack has formed an “exploratory committee” to run for congress, in Iowa’s fourth congressional district.  That means she’d be running to unseat Congressman Sreve King, a Republican from Kiron.  Here is her statement:

Serving Iowa is both a privilege and a responsibility.  The decision to run for Congress deserves serious consideration.  Next month, I will move to Ames and continue to explore the possibility of representing Iowa in the US House of Representatives.  It’s important to listen to Iowa families about the issues they want addressed in Congress.  Hearing directly from citizens about their concerns and ideas is very important to me.  Too often in campaigns, it’s the other way around.  More than anything, this should be a discussion about Iowa values-the value of work, the value of opportunity and the value of community.   Input from fellow Iowans will help me make the best decision and will give our state a campaign focused on collaboration and results, encouraging a new way to do business in Washington.”  

Technically, she has formed an “exploratory committee” for congress, the ramping-up “toe-dipping” phrase with which you’ve become familiar because of all the presidential hopefuls who form exploratory committees enroute to a real, bona fide campaign aparatus. 

Yesterday, Republican Governor Terry Branstad said Christie Vilsack would be a “fish out of water” in the fourth district.  Last summer at the Iowa State Fair, Christie Vilsack talked about running for congress.

…Vilsack announced (in the fall of 2009) she had decided against running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Chuck Grassley. Vilsack said during an interview at the Iowa State Fair that she is considering “other options” like running for congress.

“I just turned 60, so timing is important — political timing as well as personal timing,” she said.  “It’ll be a whole new ballgame after the election and after redistricting, where we see the districts line up.”

The Iowa Legislature will redraw the congressional district lines in Iowa for the 2012 election and it’s likely Iowa will lose one of it’s five congressional seats due to population gains in other states.

“Nobody will actually have a claim on any particular district, I think, because it’ll be a whole new set of voters and a whole new set of constituents,” she said.

Being a first-time grandparent is one factor that’s pulling Vilsack in one direction. But Vilsack said women like her, who are in “the third part of their lives” are being recruited to run for office and she feels the tug toward putting her own name on the ballot after working a lifetime to elect others.

According to Vilsack, she’d enter a race with her “eyes open” to what it takes to run and win. “I know, which maybe makes the decision harder. If you have illusions or thinking that it’s glamorous — it’s not that I’m not optimistic, I just understand. I know how much hard work (is required),” Vilsack said.  “I know what the personal sacrifice is.”

 In December, Tom Vilsack indicated he would not step down as a caibnet secretary if his wife were to seek a seat in congress.  (He cited other examples of spouses who’ve worked in the two branches of the federal government at the same time.)

Latham’s moving

Governor Branstad announced late this morning during a taping of IPTV’s Iowa Press program that he’ll sign the redistricting plan into law as soon as he gets an official copy of the bill from the legislature.  Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, announced about half an hour before Branstad’s declaration that he, Latham, would be moving into the new third congressional district.  Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, lives in the third, so that sets up a General Election show-down between the two incumbents in 2012.

Read Latham’s statement about moving (he doesn’t mention where, exactly, just that he’ll be moving into the third district):

Dear Friend: 
Thank you for your dedication, support and hard work on behalf of the great State of Iowa, the Republican Party and common-sense candidates at every level of government.  It is heartening to see the positive changes that are taking place in Iowa and in Washington, thanks in large part to your efforts in the successful elections of 2010.

Spending binges, massive debt, deficits and failed government stimulus experiments have left our country in a dire situation that continues to require tough choices. Even after only a few short months, it is clear that the status quo of the past few years in Des Moines and Washington is over.

In the Iowa Capitol, the Governor’s office and the United States Congress, the rush down the path of unsustainable spending, stifling economic mandates and overregulation has been reversed, putting us on a path back towards fiscal sanity. I know that Governor Branstad, Republicans in the Iowa Statehouse and Republicans in Congress are as committed as I am to changing the culture of the recent past.  We are committed to addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges by ending the spending binges to give Iowa and American families, farms and businesses the economic certainty they need and deserve to get our economy moving again.

There is no doubt that still too many Iowans wake up each day with their hearts and minds burdened with deep uncertainty as America works to recover from one of the most difficult economic periods in our lifetimes.  We must all be committed to working for and finding real solutions that will help – not hinder – Iowa main streets, farms and families to bring long-term growth to our economy and job market.

I am energized and dedicated to working hard to find common-sense solutions to the many challenges we face in Iowa and America because I know that the next generation of Americans deserves nothing less than a total commitment from us.  Our nation’s future depends on the actions we take today.  Kathy and I have all the hopes and prayers any parent and grandparent has for the safety and success of future generations.  That’s what keeps me motivated to work every single day I am on this earth to preserve, protect and expand the promise of the American Dream for every one of our country’s children and grandchildren.

As you know, Governor Branstad has announced that he will sign the state legislature’s approved redistricting map for the State of Iowa.  This new map significantly alters the Congressional boundaries for the 2012 general election.

I have never let map boundaries block the great honor I have felt in representing the interests of all Iowans in the United States Congress.  And, after thoughtful discussions with my family, friends and supporters over the past two weeks, I am writing to share with you my decision that I will be a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s new Third Congressional District in 2012. (This district includes Adair, Adams, Cass, Dallas, Fremont, Guthrie, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union and Warren Counties.)
This election is over a year-and-a-half away and I assure you that the time for campaigns and politics is not now – it is in the distant future.  More important than any campaign or election ahead is the work I and others will be doing in the coming weeks and months to ensure the economic, health and retirement security of all Americans.  Our top priorities must be promoting policies that protect and grow jobs in Iowa, rein in government debt and spending, and protect the promise of the American Dream for current and future generations.

I look forward to talking with you in the near future to discuss this decision and personally ask for your support of this decision.  In the meantime, please be assured that I will continue to do what I have always done during my service to Iowans in Congress – making sure that I actively listen to your voice, your opinions and your ideas.  I have always held the belief that if more of our government’s leaders in Washington, Iowa and at the local level actually listened to and worked with the people they represent, we would accomplish so much more as a whole.

Working together I know that our great state’s and nation’s best days lie ahead.
Tom Latham

Senate passes redistricting plan 48-1 (audio)

The Iowa Senate took up the redistricting plan less than half an hour after it passed the House this morning.

Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, began his opening remarks on the plan at 9;11 a.m.  “This is an historic day,” Kibbie said. “…We’re losing a congressman.  We’re going from five congressman to four.  As you know, since 1980 we’ve been doing this reapportionment through the Legislative Services (Agency), using computers and they’re instructed…not to pay any attention to where any incumbent legislators live.”

“…Many of the objections come from western Iowa and many of them from one county in western Iowa, Pottawattamie,” Kibbie said, a reference to the Council Bluffs area which is drawn into the same congressional district as Polk County, the Des Moines metro.  “And that was a disappointment to them.”

“…I am assuming that Iowa will probably be the first state in the nation that will draw our lines that will affect the 2012 elections,” Kibbie said. “…Iowa’s reapportionment plans generally change the legislature by 50 percent because of this plan.  This plan treats Democrats and Republicans, I say, equally.”

Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, a Republican from Chariton, spoke. “While not everybody may be happy with the disstrict they receive, we all recognize it is, indeed, a fair plan,” McKinley said.

That was it for debate.  No objections were raised.  Kibbie moved to closing remarks which were similar to Cownie’s in the House, praising Ed Cook of the Legisaltive Services Agency who was in charge of the plan.  “Iowa’s going to be recognied nationwide, for us to pass this in a bipartisan way,” Kibbie said, adding a little history from his time in the legislature in the early 1960s before shutting down his remarks.

The bill/plan passed at 9:24 a.m. by a vote of 48-1.

Listen to debate 12 min

House passes redistricting plan 90-7 (AUDIO)

Representative Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, opened the debate on the redistricting plan.  “We had a redistricting process that the legislature should be proud of, but most importantly, Iowans should be proud of as well.”  Cownie said.

Cownie talked about the way other states draft their maps. “The state of Iowa does it better.” Cownie said, of redistricting.

In a show of bipartisanship, Representative Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City, was recognized to give opening remarks on the plan as well. “It is truly a system of honety, fairness and integrity,” she said of Iowa’s redistricting process.

A corrective amendment was adopted, correcting a few typos in the bill. Not a single legislator spoke against the plan.  At Cownie’s prompting, the House applauded Ed Cook, the Legislative Services Agency staffer who was in charge of the project.  He praised the bi-partisan commission which held the four public hearings on the plan.

“I urge the body to support HF 682,” Cownie said after those brief thanks.  The bill passed at 8:52 a.m. 90 to 7 vote.

Debate audio 11 min

House to take up redistricting first thing today

The Iowa House is scheduled to gavel in at 8:30 a.m.  A prayer will be said. The Pledge will be recited, then the first bill up for debate will be redistricting.

AUDIO: Bachmann talks of born again experience, political ideology

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, is today’s guest in The Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series.  The venue for her midday appearance is the Vermeer Auditorium at Pella Christian High School.

At 12:48 p.m. Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader took the stage.  Vander Plaats said his group is concerned about fiscal issues, including the national debt. “And the reason is it all impacts the family,” he said.

BVP described Bachman as pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-constitution, pro-economic and he praised Bachmann for voting against the budget deal this past weekend.  Jen Green is next on stage, to introduce Bachmann.  She praised Bachmann for “making all the right enemeis” during her 10-year tenure in congress.

At 12:55 p.m. Bachmann took the stage.  The crowd stood to applaud her entrance.  “Hi, everyone,” Bachmann said.  “…I only wish the tulips were up right now.”  That’s a reference to Pella’s famous tulip festival in May.

AUDIO from speech 43 min

“Some of you may know that I am an Iowan,” Bachmann said, telling the crowd an “Iowegian” is a “Norwegian Iowan.”

“I feel like I know you,” she told the crowd. “I’m one of you.”

She then shared a “background of her faith story.”

She was born into a Lutheran family and while she’s sure the gospel had been preached during her childhood, “I don’t think I heard it; I don’t think I understood it” until she turned 16.

It’s at the age of 16 — on November 1, 1972 — “that I understood I was a sinner…and I needed salvation…At that time I confessed…At that moment, my whole life changed…and I became a new creation…He put his mantle of righteousness on me and it changed my whole world forever,” she said.

Bachmann said the most “distinct feature” of her conversion was “an absolute hunger and a thirst for the word of God…All of a sudden the Holy Spirit was my teacher and I could understand the word of God.”

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