Gross: any time Bob can promote himself, he attempts to do that

Doug Gross, the 2002 Iowa GOP nominee for governor, and Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, are the guests on this weekend’s Iowa Press, which airs on IPTV @ 7:30 this evening.  Gross was first to address the controversy:

I don’t personally have the information…I’ve read the news reports associated with it and it looks troubling and troubling in the sense that Rick Santorum said that they talked about money and he raises the issue of money in return for an endorsement. Now, he said it wasn’t specifically said that way, but instead what they talked about was the need for money in order to help promote the endorsement. Whatever, it looks troubling.

“…What I think we’ve got going is Bob is very much interested in his own future candidacy, at least for some particular higher office. He’s run three times, so I think there’s a pattern here that’s developing and it appears that he wants to run again, I suspect, and anytime Bob can try to help promote himself he attempts to do that and I think what he was trying to do is get himself in a position where he could play a prominent role to help promote himself for a future candidacy.”

Scheffler was asked, by AP’s Mike Glover: “Do you find that whole episode troubling, assuming that the reports we’ve seen about it are accurate?” Scheffler’s answer:

“Well, naturally I’m concerned about what the reports might contain or not contain. Certainly Bob is free to do what he wants to do. As far as I’m concerned, on my part, I and the organization I work for decided not to endorse anybody…And of course it also is a little bit troubling the reports that some campaigns, like Michele Bachmann’s campaign, was asked to basically kind of fold in or whatever the terminology was used and quite frankly I think in a process where these candidates have spent a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of energy, to ask a candidate to fold their efforts into another campaign is just not the way we do things here in Iowa.”

Here’s The Family Leader’s statement on this, issued yesterday, and more background. Gross was chief of staff to Terry E. Branstad a couple of decades ago and you may recall that BVP ran against TEB in a GOP primary in 2010.

Branstad says Gingrich is “in real trouble”

Governor Terry Branstad is the guest on this weekend’s Iowa Press on IPTV and he offered his analysis of the latest news from the presidential campaign trail.

“I think his campaign’s in real trouble,” Branstad said of Newt Gingrich. “Obviously he got off to a bad start and then he took a big vacation and I think that was a big mistake and now I think a lot of the staff has just kind of had it…Whether this is the end for the campaign or not, I don’t know, but it doesn’t look very good.”

Gingrich has been on a two-week cruise to the Greek Islands. “I think you do a cruise to the Greek Islands after the campaign’s over, not before,” Branstad said, laughing. Branstad, as you may remember, took his wife on a trip to Paris in November, after he won his fifth term.

Branstad noted Gingrich drew “some pretty good crowds” in Iowa shortly after he formally launched his campaign, even amidst the thrashing Gingrich was getting for criticizing the Paul Ryan plan (along with the revelation that Gingrich had a $250,000 to $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s).

“If he really wanted to sustain, get things back on track he should have stayed with it and not taken an extended vacation,” Branstad said.  “…I think he missed the opportunity, obviously.”

Non-candidate Thune headliner at Sioux City event

South Dakota Senator John Thune announced several weeks ago that he would NOT run for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  But Thune has agreed to follow in the footsteps of people like Newt Gingrich (thinking about running in ’12), Rick Santorum (thinking about running in ’12), George Pataki (not running in ’12) and John Ensign (really not running in ’12; just resigned from US Senate) and headline an event for the American Future Fund.

AFF Announces Lecture Series Event with Senator John Thune
US Senator John Thune to speak in AFF’s Conservative Lecture Series in Sioux City
American Future Fund announces the kick-off of their Conservative Lecture Series for 2011 with guest speaker US Senator John Thune scheduled to speak on May 31 in Sioux City.
Senator Thune (R-SD) was first elected to Congress in 1996 and then to the Senate in 2004.  In 2009 he was elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the US Senate.  Senator Thune has been a leader in the fight against ObamaCare and the potentially catastrophic cap and trade legislation.  He is a strong advocate for a balanced federal budget and reforming the budget process.  Senator Thune strongly believes in and advocates for the basic principles of liberty, freedom and small government that our founders built this great country on.
AFF Founder Nick Ryan stated, “It is an honor to have such a distinguished member of the US Senate join our lecture series in Iowa.  We look forward to hearing Senator Thune speak on our nation’s most pressing concerns.”
[Read more…]

Santorum: war on terror is not over

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rich Santorum just called me to talk about Osama bin Laden’s death and his three-city lecture tour in Iowa today.  He delivered a lecture in Iowa City early this morning. He’s in Pella over the noon-hour as part of The Family Leader’s presidential lecture series.  Santorum will speak in Sioux Center late this afternoon.  Here’s a transcript of our telephone conversation.

Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (me): What are your thoughts on bin Laden’s death and what do you see as the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “I’m as energized as anybody that we were able to take this man whose mere existence was a sign of defiance to the United States, that we were actually able to take him out and prove that his comments in the past were saying, ‘The Americans, they’re weak…They won’t be diligent in fighting us.’  I think we’ve shown that in fact we will be and we are and we did and hopefully the lesson learned is that diligence does pay off and that this war is not over and that the threat has not been subdued, but that our actions, our continuing vigilance in Afghanistan and in Iraq and, hopefully, in other places around the world and in this country will continue to keep us safe and…ultimately be victorious in subduing this threat.”

Henderson: Some are starting to talk about bringing the troops home.  Is there an ongoing mission in Afghanistan?

Santorum: “One of the things we’ve learned is that when you have — particularly in the Muslim world — you have failed states that can be occupied by religious fanatics, you create an atmosphere for bad things to happen not just around that region but in our country and so we need to remain vigilant that we don’t leave in Afghanistan what caused the events of 9/11 which is a failed state that can be run and supported by terrorist organizations.”

Henderson: In 1991, George H.W. Bush was seen as a shoe-in for reelection in 1992 because of the way the Gulf War had been prosecuted and many Democrats who were mulling a run for president didn’t run because of that impression.  How does bin Laden’s death impact Republicans like yourself who are thinking about running for president?

Santorum: “This is one moment, a very welcome moment.  It’s an important moment in the fight but there are a lot of issues that we have to deal with going forward in other places around the world as this fight continues. And we’ve seen the president of the United States and the actions he’s had to deal with de novo as a president, which is places like Iran and their revolution, Egypt, Libya, Syria, other places around the Middle East — the president has handled all these situations poorly and as a result I believe we are less safe as a result of that and those are the issues that are going to be most important to the voters. As we saw in 1992, ‘what have you done for me lately?’ is a very important and, I think, appropriate way the American public looks at these situations.  It’s not what you’ve accomplished — that’s certainly a factor — but ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What will you do?’ that’s much more important.”

Henderson: As a Pennsylvanian, did you feel at all compelled to cancel your appearances in Iowa today and go to Shanksville instead?

Santorum: We’ve got some serious issues that we’ve got in this country with the continuing battle with the jihadists and I’m not happy with the way we’re dealing with those and so I’d rather continue to go out and talk about the future. I certainly share in the enthusiasm and the support for our team that was able to kill bin Laden, but you know, my job is to focus on where our country is going in the future.”

Santorum’s lectures are focused on America as a “moral enterprise” with people “molded by faith”.

Branstad item vetoes tax proposals

Governor Terry Branstad used his item veto authority today to nix two tax proposals — one aimed at businesses, the other designed to give Iowa’s working poor a tax break.  Read the Radio Iowa story.  Here’s the press release from Branstad’s office.

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today signed Senate File 209, which provides supplemental funding for indigent defense, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Safety and Department of Corrections, Department of Public Health and community colleges.

The governor also used his item veto authority to insist on broad tax relief, vowing to work with both parties in both chambers to build a tax relief package that promotes economic growth in Iowa.

“I am pleased to sign Senate File 209 to provide indigent defense funding, funding for the Department of Public Safety, Department of Human Services and Department of Corrections,” said Branstad. “I commend the House and Senate for making these supplemental appropriations in areas where the cuts would have adversely affected the health and safety of Iowans.”

In a letter to Senate President Jack Kibbie, attached to this email, Branstad stated:

“I am unable to approve the item designated as Division I. […]Any temporary economic stimulus effect of bonus depreciation is primarily accomplished through the federal tax code.  Iowa should instead focus its energies on improving our state’s long term competitive tax position for new job creation.  With our limited budget, that is best accomplished by reducing our commercial property taxes which are second highest in the country and our marginal corporate tax rate which is the highest in the nation.

“I am unable to approve the item designated as Division II.

“As earlier indicated, it is my desire to approach tax policy in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  As such, I urge members of the House and Senate to continue to work with my office on an overall tax reduction package that both fits within our sound budgeting principles while reducing those taxes that are impeding our state’s ability to compete for new business and jobs.”

Branstad also said, “I am pleased we could reach this agreement to fund our shared priorities in public safety, public health and indigent defense. I look forward to continuing our discussions on job creation and tax changes as we move forward toward adjournment.”

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds continue to work with leaders in both the House and the Senate to develop a plan that fits Iowa’s long-term needs, while maximizing effectiveness by creating jobs, growing the state’s economy and putting Iowa on a path to fiscal prosperity.

Gov. Branstad used his item veto authority in accordance with Amendment IV of the Amendments of 1968 to the constitution of the State of Iowa to item veto Divisions I and II of Senate File 209.

Iowans for Tax Relief issued a statement. 

Significant Tax Relief Options Item-Vetoed by Governor Branstad
Weeks of work by the Legislature on Senate File 209 is removed in one day

MUSCATINE, IA—Today Governor Branstad item-vetoed two significant tax relief portions of Senate File 209, the tax and spending compromise bill.
Iowans for Tax Relief President Ed Failor, Jr. issued the following statement:

“It is discouraging to see Governor Branstad’s item- vetoes which remove significant tax relief options in place to help Iowa job creators and Iowa families. A bi-partisan group of Legislators have worked for over six weeks on the compromise bill, and it is built with the best intentions for the taxpayers of Iowa.”

[Read more…]

Judge Moore “exploring” presidential bid

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is in the midst of a six-day, 25-city swing through Iowa and he’s filing the paperwork today for an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign.

Moore, who is 64 years old, says his natural base of support will come from the Tea Party, from Christian voters and from voters who want to adhere to constitutional principles.  Moore also expects to win support from Iowans who voted last fall to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had joined in the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling on gay marriage.  “This is a natural group of people who want to stand for family values, want to stand for something that is so common sense it defies imagination — the marriage of one man and one woman,” Moore said.  “…When judges start making up the law, they should be removed.”

Moore was in Iowa last summer, campaigning against the retention of those three Iowa Supreme Court justices.  He was in Iowa earlier this year, serving as the keynote speaker at a statehouse rally organized by Iowans who want a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage here. 

Moore says losing in the past two statewide elections in Alabama (see info below about those races) has no bearing on his ability to win a national race.  “You don’t run by winning or losing.  You don’t know many politicians that have not lost an election,” Moore said.  “…Abraham Lincoln lost many elections…Ronald Reagan lost the first time he ran…for president….I’ve won elections.  I became the first elected Republican judge in Etowah County in modern history and since then, no other (Republican) judge has been elected…And when I went to chief justice, I won without a run-off in the primary.  Elections are just things that you run and, you know, take what the voters say, but I have had more of a national inclination…I’ve spoken for 15 years across the country and dealing with the Constitution of the United States and dealing with things that pertain to issues of constitutional import and so I think it’s time to bring those issues to light in a national debate.”

Moore opposes the Obama Administration’s move to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military and the organization he now leads — The Foundation for Moral Law — filed a brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. “Having served in the military…I know that homosexuality is not condusive to the military mission and I have no qualms about that.  I’ve seen it and felt it and experienced it and we’ve got to wake up to reality, ” Moore said early in an interview with Radio Iowa (me) and The Des Moines Register this morning. “Common sense dictates this.”

Later, Moore was asked what he meant by having felt and experienced the impact of homosexuality in the military.

“You had mentioned that while you were in the military, you did experience some problems,” Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register said. “Can you describe that? What do you mean by that?”

Moore replied: “No, no, I didn’t say — I didn’t experience problems.”

“You witnessed some problems in the military?” Jacobs asked.

“With discipline, with homosexuality, with other things, yes –with the views of the military soldiers toward that,” Moore said.

“How their views somehow impeded the readiness of the military, is that what you mean?” Jacobs asked. 

“Well, their acceptance of open homosexuality in the military was not there,” he said.  “…Of course it’s always affected the military. It has affected the military since Washington excluded homosexuals out of the military back during his day.”

Moore is being escorted around the state by former state Representative Danny Carroll, a Republican from Grinnell who is a lobbyist for The Family Leader.  Carroll supported former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the 2008 Caucuses and was co-chair (along with Bob Vander Plaats) of Huckabee ’08 in Iowa.

“What impresses me and a lot of other people that we talk to — you hear a lot of people talk about the courage of their convictions, seldom do you find someone who is willing to sacrifice their position as the sitting chief justice of a state supreme court because he was asked by a higher authority to no longer acknowledge God,” Carroll said. “…He has demonstrated in real life actions the courage of his convictions. That’s impressive.”

In 2001 Moore drew national attention for installing a monument to the Ten Commandments in Alabama’s courthouse. A federal court ordered that monument removed. After Moore refused to do so, Alabama’s judicial ethics panel booted Moore from that state’s high court in 2003.  Moore ran for governor of Alabama in 2006 and lost in the G.O.P. Primary and in 2010 he got about 19 percent of the vote in Alabama’s gubernatorial primary, finishing in fourth place.

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.

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

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.”

[Read more…]