@ChuckGrassley: delay appointing Scalia replacement ’til after 1/20/17

Here is the statement posted this evening on Senator Chuck Grassley’s website:

Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following statement after learning of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Justice Scalia was an intellectual giant.  His originalist interpretation of the Constitution set the standard for the court.  He had an unwavering dedication to the founding document that has guided our country for nearly 230 years.  His humor, devotion to the Constitution and quick wit will be remembered for years to come.  Barbara and I send our prayers to Justice Scalia’s family.
“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year.  Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

(FYI: Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed during an election year.  President Reagan nominated Kennedy in November of 1987 after withdrawing two previous nominees. The Senate unanimously confirmed Kennedy in 1988.  Here is The New York Times story of that February, 1988 vote.)

UPDATE at 7:59 pm. 

The statement below has been modified to note that in the last approximately 80 years, a Supreme Court Justice has not been nominated and confirmed in a presidential election year.  Apologies for any confusion.

For Immediate Release
Saturday, February 13, 2016

Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following statement after learning of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Justice Scalia was an intellectual giant.  His originalist interpretation of the Constitution set the standard for the court.  He had an unwavering dedication to the founding document that has guided our country for nearly 230 years.  His humor, devotion to the Constitution and quick wit will be remembered for years to come.  Barbara and I send our prayers to Justice Scalia’s family.

“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year.  Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Iowa GOP releases ‘certified’ results for 2016 #IACaucus

We didn’t have to wait as we did in 2012 (and find out a handful of precincts would never report).  The target was 48 hours this time around and the Iowa GOP has released its “canvas” of the precincts.  See below:

DES MOINES – The Iowa GOP released fully certified caucus results today, including the final delegate allocation.

1. Ted Cruz – 51,666
2. Donald Trump – 45,429
3. Marco Rubio – 43,228
4. Ben Carson – 17,394
5. Rand Paul – 8,481
6. Jeb Bush – 5,238
7. Carly Fiorina – 3,485
8. John Kasich – 3,474
9. Mike Huckabee – 3,345
10. Chris Christie – 3,284
11. Rick Santorum – 1,779
12. Other – 117
13. Jim Gilmore – 12
GRAND TOTAL – 186,932


The initial reporting process on February 1st was followed by an official certification process, relying on paper forms filled out, signed, and submitted to the Iowa GOP by each precinct chair. This process took more than two weeks in 2012, but through additional training and staff, we have cut certification time to under 48 hours. This final certified tally determines delegate apportionment.

Delegate Apportionment

Based on caucus results, and only if more than one candidate is placed into nomination at the Republican National Committee’s National Convention, Iowa will cast its 30 delegates accordingly:

Ted Cruz – 8
Donald Trump – 7
Marco Rubio – 7
Ben Carson – 3
Rand Paul – 1
Jeb Bush – 1
Carly Fiorina – 1
John Kasich – 1
Mike Huckabee – 1
Chris Christie – 0
Rick Santorum – 0
Jim Gilmore – 0

*Iowa’s delegates are only bound on the first ballot. If only one candidate is placed into nomination, the Iowa delegation will cast its entire vote for that person.

Statement from Chairman Jeff Kaufmann

It took years of preparation, thousands of volunteers, and hundreds of county trainings to make the 2016 caucuses a success, and this evening it is our pleasure to announce the final, certified results. Thank you to the record-breaking 187,000 Iowans who participated, our candidates, and the volunteers who made it possible. The Iowa caucuses represent the best of our democracy and serve an incredibly important role in keeping the men and women running for president grounded in the everyday issues of the American people.”

Latest voter registration numbers heading into #IACaucus

The state’s commissioner of elections (with the title of “Secretary of State”) is NOT involved in tonight’s Caucuses. These are not elections. The 1681 precinct meetings are managed by the Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party. However, the secretary of state’s office has just provided an update on voter registration trends.  Read it below:

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announces that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic parties have seen substantial gains in voter registration over the past few days and throughout the month prior to the Iowa Caucuses. Almost 1,500 Iowans have registered vote for in the past four days. As of 8:43 am, February 1, the morning of the Iowa Caucus, here are the latest voter registration numbers:

February 1

Democrats: 586,835
Republicans: 615,763
No Party: 727,112
Other: 7,607
Total: 1,937,317

January 27

Democrats: 586,211
Republicans: 615,066
No Party: 726,999
Other: 7,597
Total: 1,935,873

Increases by Party from January 27-February 1

Democrats: +624
Republicans: +697
No Party: +113
Other: +10
Totals: +1,444

Both the Republican and Democratic parties saw significant increases in voter registration from the previous month’s totals. Here are the numbers from the beginning of January:

January 4

Democrats: 584,111
Republicans: 612,112
No Party: 726,819
Other: 7,555
Totals: 1,930,597

Increases by Party from  January 4-February 1

Democrats: +2,724
Republicans: +3,651
No Party: +293
Other: +52
Total: +6,720

“These numbers indicate Iowans are engaged in the Iowa Caucus process and are anxious to cast their ballot for the presidential candidate of their choice. I encourage all eligible Iowans to participate in the Caucuses tonight,” Secretary Pate said. “I also want to remind Iowans that they can register to vote or update their registration information at their precinct location. If you need to do that, please give yourself extra time by arriving early. The Caucuses start at 7 pm.”

All of the monthly voter registration totals are available on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website at this link. Click on ‘February’ under ‘2016’ for the latest information: http://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regstat.html.

#IACaucus @Reince Priebus talks about tonight’s debate…and 2020 (AUDIO)

Radio Iowa had the opportunity to interview Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus late this afternoon.

First question: have you been involved in any of the Trump negotiations? “I don’t think there’s any negotiation. If Donald Trump wants to debate, he can debate. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t have to,” Priebus said. “…I’m not thinking a whole lot about it.”  AUDIO of his full answer.

Another debate-related question: For 2020, will you revisit the process for determining debates, who gets to choose who participates?  “I think we’ll probably expand on that in four years…Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll own the license or the rights to a lot of the content that goes through these debates and we could potentially license out access, so this is the very, very beginning of the process…We have order now. We have some level of consistency…and now we’re going to take it to the next level,” Priebus said.  Here’s the full AUDIO of the answer to that and a follow-up question about whether the candidates get to choose/veto moderators.

Final debate-related questions: Are you upset the Trump kerfuffle has detracted from the debate you helped set up?  “We put out a calendar and we would hope and expect that our candidates would be at the debates for which they quality, but I’m not upset,” Priebus said. “I think candidates make the decisions they want to make for their own campaign strategy and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”

Are you going over to Drake (where Trump is holding his fundraiser, to be joined later by Huckabee and Santorum)? “No,” Priebus responded, laughing. “I have a debate here to run.”

AUDIO of Priebus’ answers to those final two questions.


#IACaucus This Trump/Fox News debate thing reminds me…

I was at one of those things we call “cattle calls” early last year. I was having a conversation with a Republican activist during one of the breaks between speeches from the multitude of candidates who were to take the stage that day.

The person on the other end of the conversation raised the subject of Fox News.

“Don’t count me as a fan,” this activist said.

When I pressed for the reason behind that sentiment, the following was throw back: “Tell me what conservatives have gained since Fox News has existed.”

(Fox News has existed for nearly 20 years. It went on the air in October, 1996.)

Something akin to a rhetorical bill of particulars quickly followed that statement. Here is the rough draft I received:

  • Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states
  • The federal government is drowning in red ink
  • Planned Parenthood is still receiving government funding and abortion is still legal
  • Barack Obama won twice
  • ObamaCare is still intact
  • “The establishment” is trying to cram immigration reform through congress

It was a signal the agitation fermenting among the Republican base was bubbling up as anger that would ultimately be aimed within the party’s sphere.

Much is being written and said elsewhere about Fox News viewership demographics, Trump’s decision and what it all means. This recollection of a conversation is a mere proton in the mass of physical matter being developed in reaction to Trump’s announcement this afternoon. Or maybe it’s a neutron.  You decide.

The 1st #IACaucus campaign speech of @TedCruz (from Aug, 2012)

How about another Saturday morning rewind, to 2012? Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate at the time, spoke to the Iowa delegation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. He began with a joke about Joe Biden, then quickly talked about Iowa’s role in presidential politics.

“If there’s one thing Iowa understands, it’s grassroots politics,” Cruz said, to applause. “Let me tell you — on behalf of the other 49 states, let me take a moment to thank you for the role Iowa plays every four years in presidential politics because you don’t let someone come in on a fancy private jet, dump a whole bunch of money and just buy a presidential race.”

A few male voices in the room can be heard saying, “No, no,” and another says, “You’re right,” as the crowd applauds.

Cruz made those comments about the “fancy jet” the last week of August in 2012.

“Iowa insists every cycle that people come, candidates come and actually talk to the people and that is an incredible role. Each of you, I know, takes very seriously your job of starting that process for the nation and I think it’s critical for the nation.”

Cruz spoke of his own primary victory in 2012 over a well-known competitor, but then he pivoted back to presidential politics.

“Republicans get in trouble when we start thinking about whose turn it is. That doesn’t have a good history of working out for us,” Cruz said, to applause. “Elections are supposed to be about the people and I want to thank each of you for your role in making sure that’s the case every four years.”

AUDIO of Cruz’s speech, 19:00


The 1st #IACaucus campaign speech of @RealDonaldTrump (on 8/10/13)

As the 2016 Iowa Caucus campaign winds down, how about a Saturday morning rewind?  We go all the way back to the Family Leadership Summit in August of 2013.  Donald Trump was the closing speaker at the event, which was organized by The Family Leader. The first voice on the recording is that of Bob Vander Plaats, the CEO of The Family Leader (who endorsed Ted Cruz a few weeks ago). When Trump starts speaking, you are going to recognize the cadence and the issues Trump is talking about now on the campaign trail.

AUDIO of Trump’s appearance, 30:00

Here are some of the highlights from that 2013 Trump speech:

  • “What’s going on with the country we love?…We need leadership that’s smart,” Trump said. (He said this shortly after having his childhood confirmation picture shown on the big screen that loomed over the stage so the crowd could see it.)
  • “Our country is in serious trouble. We have problems like we have not had before…The Republican Party is in serious trouble,” Trump said.
  • “Our country is in trouble, but our country has tremendous potential with the right leadership,” Trump said.
  • “You need border security. You have to have it. It’s like a sieve…Either you have a country or you don’t…and having a country starts with security at your borders,” Trump said, and was interrupted with applause.
  • “They manipulate better than anybody has ever manipulated a currency ever,” Trump said, in a section of the speech about the trade imbalance with China. “…Why aren’t we taxing them so that their product becomes more expensive?…They don’t think our leaders are very smart. It’s a problem. It’s a problem.” The crowd applauded.
  • “There’s such a lack of intelligence,” Trump said, as he continued to talk about the trade imbalance with China and other countries. “You know, I’d almost say it’s either dishonesty because these countries and these companies have the right lobbyists or it’s pure stupidity. Probably it’s a combination of both.” (You can hear mild laughter from the crowd at this.)
  • “I have, like, a slogan: ‘Make America Great Again’ — I have to add the word ‘again’ because, you know, in 2016 China will become the great economic power of the world,” Trump said in the fall of 2013. “…So whoever is president in 2016, you’d better move fast…It will be a very, very sad day to me and I think to a lot of other people when that happens.”
  • “The Republicans have to get smart…I am a Republican, proudly, and I am a conservative Republican,” Trump said, to applause and then he was interrupted with ever louder applause and cheers as he delivered this litany:  “And by the way, I am prolife, traditional marriage and Second Amendment 100 percent. I mean, let’s face it.  I had to throw that in. You know, it’s amazing. They want to take away guns, but they’re not going to take ’em away from the bad guys.”
  • At the 27:00 minute mark, Trump starts talking about 2016. “The Republicans have to do what’s right. If they don’t pick the right person and I mean the right person — perfect, it’s got to be the perfect person — they are going to get drubbed in the 2016 election and that’s not going to be a good thing because this country has to be brought back from the edge,” Trump said. “…The Republicans have to get very tough and very smart and they have to do it fast.”

AUDIO: @RealDonaldTrump addresses the RFS crowd

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of people involved in the renewable fuels industry and he began by referencing Governor Terry Branstad’s declaration that he wants to see Ted Cruz lose the Caucuses because Cruz opposes the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“I know the governor just made a very big statement that was appreciated by many and that was amazing…he’s a respected man and when he speaks, people listen,” Trump said. “…I agree.”

AUDIO of Trump’s remarks at Renewable Fuels Summit, 16:00

AUDIO: @TerryBranstad v @SteveKingIA on @TedCruz & the RFS

Governor Terry Branstad fired a shot this morning. Branstad said he wants to see Ted Cruz lose the Iowa Caucuses.  AUDIO of Branstad talking about Cruz, ethanol & the Caucuses.

“Ted Cruz, who’s ahead in the polls, is diametrically opposed to what we really care about and that is growing the opportunity for renewable fuels in this country. Iowa leads the nation in ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy,” Branstad said during a news conference. “He, by the way, is against the wind energy tax credit as well.”

Congressman Steve King has endorsed Cruz and responded early this afternoon during a conversation with a group of reporters. “That’s a de facto endorsement of Trump,” King said of Branstad.  King also criticized Eric Branstad, the governor’s son, who is working for a group that’s urging Iowans to Caucus on the RFS issue. AUDIO of King, 12:00ish

AUDIO of @TedCruz answering ethanol/RFS question last night & in March

Tuesday in Sioux Center, Bernie Punt — the former manager of an ethanol plant who is now an executive with an ethanol production company, asked Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz where he stood on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

AUDIO of Punt and Cruz, courtesy of KLEM Radio

Cruz got a similar line of questioning from during a campaign stop in Cherokee. According to staff for America’s Renewable Future, the woman asking the question was Julie French, an investor in a local ethanol plant.

AUDIO of Cruz in Cherokee, as provided by America’s Renewable Future.

In March, at the Iowa Ag Summit, Cruz was asked a similar question by host Bruce Rastetter, the agribusinessman who hosted the summit.

AUDIO of that part of the Rastetter/Cruz exchange, which happened right after Cruz sat down on stage.

Cruz has been trailed around Iowa this week by the group America’s Renewable Future, headed by Eric Branstad, the eldest son of Governor Terry Branstad, to highlight Cruz’s opposition to the RFS.  The group issued the following statement today:

Senator Ted Cruz listens to Iowa farmers, supports Renewable Fuel Standard through 2022

SIOUX CENTER—During a bus tour stop in Sioux Center, Iowa last night, Senator Ted Cruz expressed support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022.
Responding to a question from an ethanol investor from Iowa about whether he would allow the landmark energy program to continue through its current expiration in 2022, Sen. Cruz responded by expressing support for the RFS through 2022.
Senator Cruz also expressed passionate support for breaking through the so-called “blendwall.” “That blendwall makes it illegal for ethanol to expand its market penetration, and I intend to eliminate the EPA blendwall to get rid of that barrier, which will enable ethanol to expand in the marketplace to a much larger penetration to sell more ethanol….”
The comments were substantially repeated at another stop in Cherokee, Iowa the same evening.  
In response to Sen. Cruz’s statements, ARF state director Eric Branstad said: “Farmers and rural communities across Iowa are going to be encouraged by Sen. Cruz’s remarks. He is clearly listening to the people of Iowa and understands the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to America’s economy and energy independence, as he started the caucus process calling for immediate repeal. While not perfect, this is a big step forward by Sen. Cruz.”

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Senator Cruz, says in 2013 Cruz proposed a five-year phrase out of the RFS and, if he’s elected president, Cruz would like to start the phase out in 2017. That would end the RFS in 2022, when it is already scheduled to end under current law. Frazier says Cruz discussed the five-year phase out during a September appearance on RFD-TV.

Here is the Radio Iowa story which wraps this all up.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz supports a five-year phase-out of the so-called “Renewable Fuels Standard” that sets annual ethanol production levels for the country. Last night in Cherokee,  Cruz said Iowans are being “snookered” about the RFS.

“You know, a lot of corn farmers, a lot of people in Iowa have been led to believe by the lobbyists that the RFS is the ‘holy grail’, but the RFS ensures that Washington remains front and center,” Cruz said earlier Tuesday, in Sioux Center. “It ensures that corn farmers have to go on bended knees to politicians in Washington, seeking their regular support and mandates.”

Under current federal law, the Renewable Fuels Standard will end in 2022. Cruz co-sponsored a senate bill in 2013 that would have triggered a five-year phrase out of the RFS. According to Cruz, a better answer is improving market access and Cruz promises as president he would end federal regulations that effectively prevent refineries from making higher blends of ethanol, like E15 and E30.

Cruz has been trailed this week in Iowa by America’s Renewable Future, a pro-ethanol group that’s headed by Eric Branstad, the oldest son of Republican Governor Terry Branstad, and Cruz is taking issue with their efforts.

“Now I recognize, particularly as our campaign has gained more and more support, as we’ve seen conservatives uniting behind our campaign, that a coalition of lobbyists and Democrats have gotten together and are spending an awful lot of money trying to convince you that somehow Ted Cruz opposes corn farmers,” Cruz said in Sioux Center. “I’ll tell you the straight truth: it is utter nonsense.”

Eric Branstad issued a written statement today saying Cruz “started the Caucus process” by calling for an “immediate” repeal and has been swayed by Iowa farmers, but a spokeswoman for Cruz says the senator first called for a gradual phase out of the RFS in 2013. On Tuesday night in Sioux Center, the former manager of an ethanol plant cornered Cruz on the issue.

“I came tonight because I wanted to get the straight scoop,” the man said.

The man was Bernie Punt of Sioux Center, who is now an executive with an ethanol production company.

“I’m getting two stories about the Ted Cruz campaign. One pretty well-circulated story is stay away from him because he’s opposed to the RFS,” Punt said. “I had a call today from a very good friend of mine, very trusted source that says: ‘You’ve got to get the facts on Ted Cruz. We’ve met with him a few times and he’s going to tell you a different story.’”

Cruz offered this answer to Punt.

“I support ethanol. I support biofuels…but I also believe government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers, that it shouldn’t be Washington deciding one energy source over another, so in my view we should end all of the mandates and all of the subsidies,” Cruz said, to applause.

In March, during an agricultural forum in Des Moines, Cruz said ethanol has become a “major player in the industry” and demand for ethanol will continue without the federal mandate. Cruz said if refiners and the oil industry try to block market access, the ethanol industry should file an anti-trust lawsuit.