Iowa’s governor, lieutenant governor react to bin Laden’s death (audio)

Governor Terry Branstad issued a written statement this morning.

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today released the following statement on the death of Osama bin Laden:

“I am proud of our president, and our troops, who never lost their resolve in finding Osama bin Laden and bringing him to justice. While the world is no longer nervously looking over its shoulder for this ruthless murderer, Iowans must remain vigilant in our support of the nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard members deployed overseas. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with our brave men and women who remain in harm’s way.”

The governor released the statement from North Carolina, where he is attending a meeting of the National Governors Association.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds began her media briefing with statehouse reporters this morning by talking about bin Laden’s death.  Listen to the entire

AUDIO: News conference 12 min

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

More background on Failor, Iowans for Tax Relief

As The Iowa Republican reported Monday, Ed Failor, Junior, has resigned his post as president of Iowans for Tax Relief.  Here’s The Des Moines Register story from Jennifer Jacobs; one written by Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter James Q. Lynch includes quotes from a Failor interview.

Failor sent these comments in an email yesterday:

…You may be asking “why?”.

Well, after 16 great years, I resigned as President of ITR on Friday.

ITR has great leadership, staff, and history. They are in very capable hands and will continue to be a powerhouse in Iowa policy and politics.

I am moving on to pursue exciting opportunities. I will let you all know specifically what’s next at an appropriate time.

The Muscatine-based group has been influential in Iowa politics for decades.  It was founded in 1978 by David Stanley of Muscatine, a state representative in the 1960s and ’70s who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate twice.  His grandfather had been a state senator, too. 

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Barbour will not run in ’12

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has made a few “testing the waters” trips to Iowa, but he announced just now that he will not run for president in 2012.

“I will not be a candidate for president next year.  This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.
“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign.  Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race.  Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.
“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts.  If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.
“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.
“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

In February, during a visit to Iowa, Barbour mentioned his age and how that was a consideration.

…”If you run and get elected, you’re committing yourself for reelection and so you’ve got to be prepared for a 10-year commitment and that’s the majority of the rest of my productive life,” Barbour said. “And you have to decide: ‘Am I willing to take on the most consuming job in the world, which the presidency is?’ And I have to see if I’ve got the fire in the belly and the willingness, to the exclusion of all other things, to take that on.”

Last month Barbour said he was in Iowa to let folks know “what a Haley Barbour is.”

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.

Branstad on Herman Cain, “The Donald” (AUDIO)

On Friday, Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register asked Governor Branstad what he thought of Herman Cain.  “He’s made a good impression,” Branstad said, among other things. “…I think he’s serious about this and you never know.”

“Is he more serious than “The Donald”? Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson (that’s me) asked as a follow up.

“Well, we’ll see,” Branstad said, dissolving into laughter along with those around him.  “You got me to break up on that one.  The Donald, as you call him, hasn’t been to Iowa yet, although he did send an aide here. But he’s going to have to come and spend some time…The way the system works, even though you might be a very successful business person and a TV personality, they still want to see you on the ground, in Iowa, meeting with real people and answering tough questions.”

Gov. Brandstad on Hermain Cain 1 min+

Branstad made his comments as he left Iowa Public Television in Johnston, Iowa, where he had taped a weekend appearance on Iowa Press.  Cain is due to speak at a TEA Party/SOAR (Save Our American Republic) rally late this morning in Des Moines.  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is due to speak about an hour before Cain at the same rally.

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

AUDIO: Human Rights chief loses senate confirmation vote

Isaiah McGee, the man Governor Branstad asked to serve as director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights, has failed to win senate confirmation to the job.  McGee needed the support of two-thirds of the senate.  The vote was 30 yes, 20 no.  McGee needs three more “yes” votes in order to win confirmation. (One of his supporters switched to a “no” at the last minute in order to be on the prevailing side and, as such, be able to file a motion to reconsider the vote.  So that means McGee had 31 yes votes today in reality, but not technically.)  (Listen to debate: McGeeVote mp3 runs 20 minutes)

“I personally have spent hours on this nomination,” Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) said, adding McGee refused to repeatedly to back down from a so-called “gag order” he issued for department staff and commissions — until an email sent today said no one would face repercussions for speaking with legislators.  “…I have done a lot of soul-searching on this nomination.”

Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, called McGee one of the “most interesting and great candidates I have seen for this position….He grew up dealing with racism.  He grew up dealing with poverty…and he worked through those and became a great leader in one of our communities…What else do we want from someone on this commission?”

Feenstra expressed support for the “gag order”.

“Have you ever been head of a private busienss?  If you were the leader…I can only hope that you want all communication to go through you because you want to be lock-step with everybody in that organization, you want to say the same thing every time,” Feenstra said.

Feenstra said lack of a cohesive message “corrupts” an organization like the Department of Human Rights. “It will actually make the organization fail.  You have to have one voice and work together for these causes,” Feenstra said.

Feensdtra then hinted bigotry and racism may be behind this decision. “Really, really, do you want to take him down because supposedly he didn’t allow somebody to say something?…Is there more behind this?”  Feenstra said.

Senator Bill Dix defended McGee. “He has, at least in my opinion, been open with the senate,” Dix said. 

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, defended McGee.  “This is about politics rather than the person,” Zaun said.  “…I just hate to see this body take down another good man…He has made mistakes and he has corrected those mistakes.”

Jochum said anyone who cast a no vote “did not do so lightly.”

“Look folks, I am a woman. I am a mother. I have an adult child with disabilities, severe disabilities — 34 going on 2.  I can assure you in my lifetime I have personally witnesses discrimination against those with disabilities.  I have,” Jochum said at the beginning of her closing comments on the nomination.

“…This is not about politics.  This is plain and simply about open and transparent government and a director/nominee who several months ago did put a gag order on,.” she said.

UPDATE:  Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley has filed a “motion to reconsider” on McGee’s nomination.  It’s a parliamentary move, meaning McGee’s vote could be discussed again in the senate if four senators change their minds and vote for him.  The deadline for changing minds is April 15th.

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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