Something to listen for Wednesday

Three potential GOP candidates for president will speak to a gathering of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see if/how they compare with the candidates who spoke to this group last year.

On March 16 of last year, three Iowa Republicans were vying for their party’s gubernatorial nomination.  One of them — Terry Branstad — was a former governor.  Another — Bob Vander Plaats — had campaigned extensively with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the run-up to the 2008 Iowa Caucuses and home schoolers had been an important part of Huckabee’s network.  The third candidate — Rod Roberts — is, like Huckabee, an ordained minister.

Both Roberts and Vander Plaats spoke about faith during their remarks to the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators.  As he often did during the 2010 campaign, Vander Plaats told the crowd:  “I know who I am and I know whose I am.”  Roberts quoted from Genesis and the New Testament, and credited Joseph & Mary — the parents of Jesus Christ — for helping Jesus grow in stature in the same way home schooling parents help their children.

Branstad was the odd man out that day.  He didn’t quote the Bible or make any reference to his own faith in the way the two other candidates had.  His speech fell flat in the room.

The Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators will be holding an outdoor event at noon tomorrow on the steps of the statehouse. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain and Texas Congressman Ron Paul will speak briefly there. Another event will be held indoors at a hotel down the street in the early afternoon where the three will speak as well.

Chief of Huckabee ’08 in Iowa a T-Pawer in ’12

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee chose a rent street level space in downtown Des Moines for his 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign headquarters.  I often drove by at night and through the large windows that faced Locust Street I could see a solitary figure — Eric Woolson — sitting inside, banging away on a keyboard or talking on the phone.  Woolson did communications and coordination, organizing and strategizing — and he is generally referred to as the “manager” of Huckabee’s Caucus effort. 

Woolson had worked on George W. Bush’s Iowa campaign.  And he was press secretary for Governor Terry Branstad in the final phases of Branstad’s fourth term in office.  In 2010, Woolson did not work for Branstad, however.  He was with BVP2010 (Bob Vander Plaats, the second place finisher in the GOP gubernatorial primary), then Woolson worked on Senator Chuck Grassley’s general election campaign. 

Now, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports Woolson will back former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2012.  Pawlenty has already drawn some key McCainiacs & Bushies and now adds a Huckabee-er to the mix.

Trump guy, in Iowa, talks to media

A vice president from Donald Trump’s empire jetted into Iowa this morning.  Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn walked out to the Trump plane for a very brief meeting, then Michael Cohen (executive vice president and special counsel to Trump) spoke to a small group of reporters.  AUDIO: Remarks by Cohen 6 min.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story.

…Trump, a real estate developer who is the star of a reality show on network television, has been a target of comedians like David Letterman, who once joked he knew Trump was serious about running for president because he “threw his hair in the ring.”

Trump’s vice president bristles at the suggestion Trump is unelectable because he’s been the butt of those kind of jokes.

“As is President Obama, as well as Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Pawlenty, Sarah Palin — I believe they’ve all been made fun of,” Cohen said. “That’s what the press does. They like to have fun with anyone and everyone.”

 UPDATE:  a reader of the blog emails about the “small” Trump plane that landed in DSM today. 

It’s a Boeing 727–100. Hard to know how it’s been revamped by the Trump folks with hot tubs or whatever, but the original jet seated 94 passengers.

A Tuesday night potpourri

I’ve been “away” from the blog for a few days.  Here are some of the stories, events, happenings I should have/could have blogged about:

Babies:  Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R-Council Bluffs) and his wife, Zola, have a new son — Jacob Isaac.  State Senator Roby Smith (R-Davenport) and his wife have a new daughter — Natalie Ruth.

Baby kissers: Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee is “trying to be smarter” about 2012.  President Obama has named Iowa Governor Terry Branstad co-chair of Council of Governors.  Branstad has named former state legislator Libby Jacobs to be chair of the Iowa Utilities Board.  Branstad has named another former state legislator, Jeff Lamberti (the business partner of Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn), to the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.  And Branstad wants his #1 campaign fundraiser to serve on the Board of Regents.  Governor Culver appointed Ruth Harkin (wife of US Senator Tom Harkin) and Bonnie Campbell (former Iowa Attorney General, Branstad’s Democratic opponent in 1994) to the Board of Regents during his term, and Democrats in the Iowa Senate foresee Bruce Rastetter will be confirmed to the Board, too.   Which Minnesotan — Bachmann or Pawlenty — would win Minnesota’s Caucuses on February 7?  Branstad talked with David Chalian of PBS about the field of potential GOP presidential candidates.  A HuffPo story jokes that Iowa’s Caucuses may be held on Halloween.  Newt Gingrich has signed up to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event next week.  The Gingrich camp is giving mixed signals.

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Santorum on why ’12 race is slow developing (AUDIO)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a potential candidate for president, suggests the reason there are no “declared” Republican presidential candidates today is because of the restrictions on fundraising and spending that fall upon someone once they become an “official” candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination. 

“Look, I don’t really see any real reason to make a decision at this point. I mean, what’s the point of announcing your candidacy and putting yourself in a position where you’re under all of the FEC and all of the rules and regulations and funding restrictions and everything like that,” Santorum told three Iowa reporters late today. “…If you can go out and test the waters and get your message out and see — it sort of gets you a lot more flexibility than being under these restraints that McCain/Feingold put us under.”

Santorum also predicts the 2012 presidential race will be cheaper than 2008.  “Barack Obama raised $750 million.  I will predict to you today that he will not raise that amount of money, because it isn’t there,” Santorum said.  “…The economy’s taken a real hit and people don’t have disposable income like they d in 2007 and 2008 when folks were here running.  So, to say, ‘Why aren’t you running?’  Well, you’ve got to have fuel in the tank and right now there’s just not a fuel out there.”

Listen to his full remarks to reporters, including Santorum’s analysis of the decision facing both Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin about running for president in 2012:   Santorum

Santorum is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television.  The program was taped this afternoon; he spoke with reporters after the taping.

Ron Paul 2012?

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has agreed to do one of The Family Leader’s three-stop tours of the state.  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at this hour is in Pella on stage two of the three-stage tour. Read the news release below outlining Paul’s schedule.

Iowans Taking a Leading Role in Educational Process

Pleasant Hill, IA – The FAMiLY LEADER received confirmation Friday that Congressman Ron Paul will be the featured speaker at their Presidential Lecture Series on March 7.  Congressman Paul is scheduled to deliver his pro-family lecture and meet with members of Leadership Roundtables at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Pella Christian High School in Pella, and the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  Congressman Paul will follow former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is kicking off this educational series today, February 7th.     

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Branstad on endorsement, campaign cash from potential jurists (AUDIO)

Governor Terry Branstad had his weekly news conference this morning and joked with reporters that he wished more than just one of the nine people who’ve been nominated to be Iowa Supreme Court Justices had donated to his 2010 campaign.  He also addressed criticism after it was disclosed his grandchild is enrolled in free preschool.  Read all about it (and listen to the entire news conference) here.

Branstad also addressed a recent David Broder column in which Broder counted Branstad as a backer of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s bid for the White House.  From that February 3, 2011 column: 

…An exceptionally skilled politician, Branstad is generally counted in the Pawlenty camp. His support is the main reason Pawlenty is given a chance in the leadoff caucuses – even against Huckabee, the surprise 2008 winner in Iowa; Romney, who has invested heavily in organizing the state; and perhaps others, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.

Branstad said this morning he hasn’t endorsed anyone and was “flabbergasted” to read what Broder wrote.  Branstad also discussed the potential threat of straw polls being held in Illinois and Florida before the Iowa Caucuses.  You can listen to his remarks about these subjects here.

Mayors, governors, senators — oh my!

This is a sort of Friday potpourri post, covering everything from the controversy swirling in Washington to the potential ’12ers who will be in Iowa soon. 

In case you missed it, short-time Governor Chet Culver and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie have issued statements in support of President Obama’s deal with the GOP on taxes.  (Cownie endorsed Obama before the ’08 Caucuses.) The chair of the Iowa Democratic Party took a slightly different slant than her two Democratic counterparts.  And Congressman Bruce Braley is the only one of Iowa’s three Democratic congressmen to issue a written statement on the subject. Braley hints he’s dismayed by the deal, but doesn’t come right out and say it. You can read all of those statements below.

Issued 12.9.10 @ 12:08 p.m.: Braley statement on tax cut negotiations

Washington, DC – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement on the tax cut negotiations:

“As the tax cut package takes shape, I want to reiterate my support for a tax cut extension for every American family on incomes up to $250,000.  I continue to fight for an extension of unemployment benefits, especially during the holiday season.  I remain extremely concerned that extending Bush’s tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans will explode the deficit.” 

“I continue to fight to cut taxes for Iowa’s families and I am working to ensure our future generations are not saddled with extreme debt.  I look forward to reading the legislative language produced on the bill before making a final decision on these important issues.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:05 p.m.: Mayor T.M Franklin Cownie’s Statement on President Obama’s Tax Cuts for Amerlca’s Middle Class

Des Moines Mayor Cownie issued the following statement in response to President obarna’s economic incentive package for America’s middle class families.

“I want to commend President Obama for his leadership in securing tax cuts for America’s middle class, extending unemployment benefits forthe nation’s jobless, and providing important tax incentives for small businesses to create jobs. Preventing tax rates for the middle class from rising on January 1 and the payroll tax reduction that will take effect next year will put hard earned dollars back into family budgets in Des Moines and all across thecountrv, While we know that the President did not want to extend these benefits to the nation’s wealth lest and therefore worsen the federal deficit, we also know that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. The nation and its middle class working families need relief now. President Obama has demonstrated his leadership by pulling together an economic package that the country desperately needs.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:53 p.m.: Governor Culver: President Obama is Working to Help Middle Class

Governor also calls for package to include extension of ethanol tax credits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor Chet Culver today said he supports President Obama’s efforts to extend unemployment insurance, tax cuts for working families and other tax incentives.

Culver, who is in Washington, D.C., as the chair of the National Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, is pushing to get an extension on ethanol tax credits. The Governor said he appreciates President Obama’s work.

“I am proud of the fact that the President is working for Iowa’s working families during these extraordinary times,” he said. “Without the extension, more than 8,000 Iowa families were going to lose their benefits during the holiday season.”

The Governor also is urging Congress to include in the final tax package the ethanol tax credits.

“This is critically important for creating new jobs in Iowa,” Culver said. “The ethanol industry is a growth industry that promises good-paying jobs for Iowans now and into the future.”

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Iowa Family Leader event (AUDIO)

The Iowa Family Policy Center’s “Celebrate the Family” event this Sunday afternoon attracted a crowd of about 1500 to a church sanctuary in Des Moines.  Click here to listen to speeches by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley and Iowa Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats.

The Iowa Family Leader is a new, umbrella organization for the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters (a subsidiary of IFPC which offers counseling to troubled couples), and IFPC’s PAC.  Vander Plaats is the 2002, 2006 & 2010 Republican candidate for governor who led this year’s successful effort to oust three justices from the Iowa Supreme Court.

Huckabee held a news conference before today’s event.  Listen to it here, and find a live blog of the news conference as well the entire Iowa Family Policy Center/Iowa Family Leader event by following that link.

UPDATE:  Julie Summa from IFPC emailed a news release on Tuesday, pointing out the name of the group is The Family Leader, hence the strike throughs above.

Huckabee: I can beat Obama, too (AUDIO)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to keynote an Iowa Family Policy Center event this Sunday afternoon.  He spoke with reporters before it started. Listen to the mp3 of the 15-minute news conference: HuckabeeSunday

As for where he is in the decision-making process about another bid for the White House in 2012, this is what Huckabee said:

Honestly, I’m not on a time table. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say, ‘This is the time when I have to decide.’ Am I keeping the option open? Yes.  Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought?  Of course.  I think I would be foolish not to in light of having been through it,understanding what it’s about.

“…I’m in a very different position than I was four years ago when I was an asterisk in the polls and most people didn’t think that I was even going to be serious and this time, in most of the national polls, I’m either the top or near the top and that certainly is a different position to be in, but it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically going to do it either. There’s a lot of deep, internal soul-searching and another thing for me is that, as I’ve told many people, I don’t plan to jump in a pool unless there’s water in it.”

In response to a question about it, Huckabee said a statement he made on FOX News Sunday that it would be “less than likely” that he would run in 2012 had been taken “completely out of context.”

“I was being asked…essentially, if you had to make the decision today. Well, I didn’t have to make the decision today,”Huckabee said. “…That was not an indication of a complete lack of interest or a denial and I think it was reported that ‘Huckabee says he won’t run’ and I’ve never said that…That was a year ago.  Ask me in six months and I’ll have a clearer answer.”

Huckabee was asked if a Sarah Palin candidacy would discourage him from running.

“One of the things I’ve learned in politics is you never make your decisions based on what other people are going to do or don’t do because, first of all, they can change their minds,”Huckabee said. “And, second of all, the one thing I learned running four marathons is you run your race, your pace.  You do not go out there and look around and constantly wonder what somebody else is going to do.

“No question she will be a very, very strong presence and force if she gets in, you know, she may run away with it and that’s one of those things that everybody as to be prepared for, but the decision I make won’t be based on what she does. If I get in it, I would prefer that she not and that she endorse me.”

Huckabee laughed, as did the three Iowa Family Policy Center people flanking Huckabee as he stood before the cameras.  Huckabee quickly continued:  “But if she does then, you know, I welcome her because that I think she’s got a very strong and important voice and has brought a lot of energy to the grassroots of the Republican Party and that I think is very, very positive by anybody’s standards.”

A reporter noted that Palin said this week she could beat Obama, then asked Hucakbee: Could you?

“I always believed I could,”Huckabee said. “I wouldn’t have run the last time if I didn’t think I could and the good news for me is a majority of American voters seem to think that. In the last poll, I was the only one who polled above (Obama) outside the margin of error.”

Huckabee a few moments later said as he mulls a run in 2012, he’s considering how to finance a campaign. “I’m probably going to give more weight to that this time than I did before because I understand far better than I can even begin to tell you how tough it is to run a campaign on fumes, without fuel,” he said.

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