What the “candidates” are saying

Here are the statements on Osama bin Laden’s death from three four potential GOP presidential candidates. 

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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”.

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

Iowa senators react to bin Laden’s death

Iowa’s two U.S. Senators have issued statements about Osama bin Laden’s death.

From Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA):  “On a sunny September 11, 2001 our nation learned of Osama bin Laden and the organization he lead which killed 3000 innocent people on that fateful day. His death is a symbolic victory and a significant achievement in the war against terror, but it isn’t an end. Al Qaeda and radical terrorists around the globe remain a grave threat to our country and its people. We must remain vigilant in our fight to maintain the security of the United States. As the memories of 9/11 come flooding back with the death of Osama bin Laden, we remember and honor the families of those who lost their lives that day, and we pay special tribute to the men and women of our military and national security teams who continue to protect this nation and have led the effort over the last 10 years to bring justice to bin Laden. More work remains and we must remain vigilant against possible retaliatory attacks.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today released the following statement upon learning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“Just a few months short of the tenth anniversary of the worst attack in our nation’s history, U.S. forces brought to justice the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.  This victory is a testament to the quality of our intelligence service and the courage and precision of the Navy SEALs.  I commend the Obama Administration and thank the servicemen and women who carried out this operation.”

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.

Must see video: King versus Kennedy

Northwest Iowa Congressman Steve King and Robert Kennedy, Junior,had a verbal confrontation yesterday during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.  Watch the exchange here.

Here's the key part:

King pressed Kennedy to explain one of his past statements.

"I just reflect back on a meeting in Clear Lake (Iowa) a few years ago and the quote that I recall…'Large scale hog producers were a greater threat to the United States and democracy than Osama bin Laden's terrorist network,' King said. "Is that an accurate quote?" Kennedy replied: "I don't know if that's an accurate quote, but I believe it and I support it."

Obama goes to Clinton to reframe Iraq debate

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama went to Clinton, Iowa, today to give what his campaign billed as a "major policy address" on Iraq.  Obama called into the Radio Iowa newsroom after delivering that speech.  What follows is a transcript of our discussion.

Henderson:  There is apparently no Obama, Iowa, so you went to Clinton.

Obama:  I was looking for the headline, ‘Clinton supports Obama’ (Obama laughed).

Henderson:  You would pull combat troops out of Iraq by 2008.  How many non-combat troops would or should remain in Iraq perhaps for security purposes or in an advisory capacity for the Iraqi military?

Obama:  We were very explicit in the speech that we would need to have some troops to protect our embassy and U.S. personnel, to continue to engage in counter-terrorism activities against al Qaida in Iraq — although some of those forces could be deployed outside of Iraq.  The main principle is not having permanent bases in Iraq and making sure that we have a presence in the region that sends a clear message to other powers that we are not going away, but it does mean that we are not having our troops placed in day-to-day combat roles in the midst of a civil war.

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Romney says bin Laden “deluded”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke early this morning in Cherokee, Iowa.  After his "Ask Mitt Anything" event, he answered a few questions from reporters.

Henderson:  "In your remarks, you talked about Osama bin Laden being delusional.  Could you expand on that?"

Romney: "Oh, I think his comments as a radical jihadist and the idea of people converting to Islam under the threat of coersion — these kinds of principles are not in line with, if you will, rational thought, in my view.  I think the whole radical jihadist movement is extraordinarily misguided and evil and is a form of delusion, but I believe that the people of the world recognize that.  I think when he makes tapes like this it hurts his effort.  It doesn’t help it and I was in some respects thankful that he reminded the people of the world what the face of evil looks like, that his message of conversion through coersion — striking at the foundations of civilization through terror, that that message needs to be heard from time to time because there is this global effort of people who wish to bring down all civilization and destroy life and categorize people based on their faith and this is something which is a very frightening but very real threat."

Later, as Romney was walking away, I asked him where he had seen the video. He said he had seen it on the television in his hotel room (he overnighted in Cherokee). I mistakenly referenced the video as the "Obama" video, however, which was pointed out to me by one of Romney’s staff as the group walked away.  Oops.  Laughter from the small cluster of reporters drew Romney to turn back around and add, "When you were asking it, I thought what Obama tape?"  More laughter.  I was urged to blog about my error by campaign staff (you know who you are, Tim Albrecht).  There.  I have done it

UPDATED:  Romney’s "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Cherokee is blogged below.

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Republican debate on ABC in DSM

As I was driving down 31st Street at about 6:30 a.m. this Sunday, a rainbow seemed to be beaming out of the roof of the Kum ‘N Go Convenience Store at 31st and University — just down the street from Drake University where the debate is to be staged.  Despite the rainbow, the rain continued to pour.  Reporters arriving to cover the debate were caught in the deluge. If you’re watching the debate at home in half an hour, if the candidates have dark splotches on their suits, it may have been the rain.

As I drove closer to the venue this morning, I passed a group of Ron Paul supporters standing across the street from the Drake campus, waving their signs.  It was impossible to count the group through the pouring rain, but they could be heard inside my car above the din of the drumming rain. 

The GM of WOI-TV is speaking with folks assembled in the auditorium where the debate is to be staged, advising them to stay seated for the next couple of hours.  Drake University president David Maxwell gives a brief introduction, followed by a greeting from debate moderator George Stephanopoulos, who shall hereafter be noted as "GS" in this post.  David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register is now entering the hall.  He’s going to ask questions of the candidates as well. 

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King’s “homecoming” features Brownback, Tancredo

Congressman Steve King’s Homecoming event in Odebolt was billed as a three-fer — three GOP presidential candidates would speak this Saturday night. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo did. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee didn’t.

"(Huckabee) called me last night," King told the crowd.  "…He wanted to be here.  He planned to be here but one thing went right and one thing went wrong.  Today is his wife’s birthday and the thing that went wrong was that he had a pipe break in his house and it flooded an entire floor, so he had the choice of being here with us while his wife celebrated her birthday alone, pulling up wet carpet, or being down there keeping peace in the family and so I endorse his judgement and express his regrets."

Brownback said something which I could not catch.

"I know.  I know.  The Senators aren’t very merciful when it comes to these things, but us House members, we’re forgiving Sam," King replied, referencing his congressional colleague, Tancredo.

The speeches started at about 7:30 p.m.  I had arrived in Odebolt two hours earlier and made a stop at Cubby’s, a convenience store.  I picked up a couple of bottles of water and waited in line behind Ken Uhl of Lawton, who was paying for his gas.

Uhl had been to a Tancredo event earlier in the day and he was wearing his Tancredo sticker right above the front pocket on his blue shirt. Uhl asked if the store would take a check and the clerk behind the counter replied, "Yes."

Uhl dug his checkbook out of his back pocket and began to write out the check.  The clerk behind the counter mentioned the Tancredo sticker and said: "I’ve been listening to that guy on the radio.  I like what he says."

Turns out the clerk is an immigrant from County Cork, Ireland who told Uhl he went about becoming an American citizen "the right way."

"I had to hire a lawyer,too," the clerk added.

Uhl, the Tancredo backer, suggested the Irishman would have saved himself a lot of time by just going to Mexico and getting a "coyote" to help him get into the U.S. 

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