Newt’s immigration stand “makes it harder” to back him, King says

Iowa Congressman Steve King says the immigration stand Newt Gingrich articulated in last night’s debate is a problem for Gingrich. Gingrich said his proposal was the “humane” way to deal with the problem, by giving some illegal immigrants who’ve lived here for years a pathway to legal status.

“I think if Speaker Gingrich had that to do over again he might couch his language differently, at a minimum,” King says. “…It is a form of amnesty.”

King says this “makes it harder” to support Gingrich.  “That piece is something that concerns me because the rule of law is one of the essential pillars of American exceptionalism and if we let the rule of law be eroded and we allow people to be rewarded for breaking the law and by the way these people probably had false identification; they were working illegally; they maybe just didn’t get arrested in a quarter of a century, so I think that principle of the rule of law needs to be examined and I’d like to hear Speaker Gingrich speak to that.”

When pressed, King said those remarks last night “had moved a little bit away” from Gingrich.  King said all the candidates have “something to offer,” and he “hopes” to publicly endorse a candidate before the caucuses.

King made his comments during taping of “Iowa Press” which airs tonight Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Iowa Public Television.

King’s aide endorses Santorum

Chuck Laudner, former executive director of the Iowa GOP in 2007-08 and a long-time aide to Congressman Steve King, has endorsed Rick Santorum.

Urbandale, IA – Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced today that his campaign has received the endorsement of leading Iowa conservative Chuck Launder. Laudner will work with the Santorum campaign to organize its grassroots efforts throughout Iowa.
Chuck Laudner said: “Senator Santorum has been a consistent, conservative leader – not just in good times, but when the times have been tough.  Senator Santorum has stood tall for faith, family, and the freedoms Iowans care deeply about.  He has also worked tirelessly to earn the votes of Iowa Republicans and has shown a true commitment to grassroots organizing and retail politics that Iowans demand.  Senator Santorum stands out from the pack as the most accomplished, best equipped, and best prepared to not just take on President Obama, but lead the nation.  I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Santorum campaign and elect Rick Santorum the next President of the United States.”
Senator Santorum said: “I am thrilled to have Chuck’s endorsement.  Chuck has been a leading voice for the Republican Party in Iowa and for conservative values. Chuck was an influential leader in the campaign to unseat Supreme Court justices that took it upon themselves to redefine marriage, and he has been a loyal and trusted counselor to one of our nation’s brightest conservative stars in Congress – Steve King – which speaks volumes for Chuck’s ability and principles.  I am greatly looking forward to working with Chuck as we work toward victory in the Iowa Caucuses.”
Chuck Laudner is a well-respected and well-known Iowa conservative leader.  Laudner has served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa, as well as Chief of Staff to Congressman Steve King (R-IA).  During the 2010 election cycle, Laudner was campaign manager for Iowa for Freedom, the successful campaign to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court justices who took it upon themselves to redefine marriage in Iowa.

Christie not “feeling it” about 2012 field (audio)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just told a small group of reporters in Des Moines he may endorse a 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

“If someone has distinguished themselves in a way on the issues that I care about, that if I feel enthusiastic enough to endorse them, I will. Now, as was alluded to in one of the earlier questions, I’m not a half-way kind of guy, so if I’m going to get in and support someone I’m going to do it 100 percent and to get there, I have to feel that way about one of the people offering themselves for president and so if that moment comes, I certainly won’t keep it a secret, but I certainly am under no legal obligation to endorse anybody,” he said. “….If I felt it right now, I’d endorse somebody. I don’t.”

AUDIO: Full exchange about the presidential race, which starts at the 11-minute mark.

Christie was in Des Moines to give a speech at Governor Branstad’s Education Summit.  He’s headlining a fundraiser this evening for Congressman Steve King.  Twice during the news conference Christie said he had come to Iowa at Governor Branstad’s invitation rather than his own initiative.

Christie was asked if he had gotten any encouragement “during your short trip here” that would make him change his own mind about running for president in 2012.  “I don’t think there’s anything in particular that has happened since I landed here,” Christie paused to look at his watch, “about an hour and a half ago.”   He was also asked about 2016.

At the start of the news conference, Christie was asked about a lawsuit seeking documents about a meeting he had with Roger Ailes.  Here is Christie’s answer:

“I hear they’re dropping it now because we had no documents of communication between myself and Roger Ailes. The only document we had was an entry in my calendar about a dinner that I went to at Mr. Ailes’ home, which everybody already knew about, which Mr. Ailes had confirmed on the record. We’ve provided that calendar entry to the media organization that asked for it and told them that there are no other documents between me and Mr. Ailes at all and so my understanding is now from my staff is that they’ve been contacted and told that the suit is going to be dropped.” 

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.

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.

King statement on redistricting

See headline above.  Read written statement below.  King also talked by phone with Radio Iowa.  Read what he had to say here and here.

King Statement on Congressional Redistricting Map

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement regarding the proposed congressional redistricting map that was revealed this morning.

“Today, Iowans got a first look at what our state’s congressional map may look like for the next ten years. Ultimately, it will be up to the legislature and the Governor to decide. I chaired the State Government Committee in the Iowa Senate ten years ago and managed the bill. I know that our legislature will work hard to ensure Iowans get the best representation possible in Congress and the General Assembly. It remains a privilege to serve the Fifth District in Congress, and I look forward to continuing my work in Congress in 2012 and beyond.”

Latham statement

The new redistricting plan would pit Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Ames against Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron.  Latham is not granting interviews today.  He released a written statement:

“Iowans are lucky to have what is widely regarded as one of the fairest redistricting processes in the country governing how the new congressional districts will be drawn.  I know that the members of the Legislature will keep the best interests of the people of Iowa at heart as they move forward with the next steps of this redistricting process.  I am honored to represent the good people of Iowa in the United States Congress, and, regardless of the specifics of the final map, I will continue to work on behalf of the interest of all Iowans.”

And they paired off, two-by-two

The redistricting plan for Iowa’s congressional and legislative districts was released this morning.  It pairs Congressmen Tom Latham of Ames and Steve King of Kiron in one district.  They’re both Republicans.  It pairs Congressmen Bruce Braley of Waterloo and Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon in another district.  They’re both Republicans.

It is possible, no probable that if the Iowa General Assembly approves this plan that two of those aforementioned congressmen will move.  Latham has moved before.  Loebsack could move into Johnson County, the Iowa City area.  In the last reapportionment, then-Congressman Jim Leach moved from Davenport to Iowa City.  And Congressman Leonard Boswell moved from Davis City to Des Moines.

It will be a few hours before the full extent of pairings in state legislative races for House and Senate seats is known.

Bachmann speaks at King’s event in Des Moines (audio)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson,

Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann is the third maybe/could be/might be presidential candidate to speak at Congressman Steve King’s “Conservative Principles Conference” today.  It was a barn-burner, as they say in these parts. Anyone listening to it can conclude Bachmann’s “in” the race.

AUDIO 25 min

As she was being introduced, there was an audible “oh” from the crowd when introducer Matt Whitaker said Bachmann & her husband have been foster parents to 23 children (in addition to their five biological children).

“Isn’t it exciting to be here?,” Bachmann said when she reached the stage. ” There is no place like Iowa.  We love it…and it’s wonderful to be in a state where you have the king of conservatism.”  (That would be…Steve King.)

Bachmann is the queen of the quips today and she’s getting the crowd involved early in a cadence that starts on the topic of the economic stimulus package.

“Did President Obama correctly diagnose the problem with job creation?” Bachmann asked.

The crowd responded, “No.”

“Did he have the correct solution?” she asked.

“No,” the audience replied.

She quickly followed, asking the crowd what “level of credibility” Obama had on the subject.

“None,” the crowd said.

Bachmann added her own “not so much” and then started another cadence, praising the crowd for being “extremely good looking and well tempered.”

Bachmann took a shot at Obama — over his picks in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  “The president was 0-4 last year in his Final Four predictions. Do you remember that. OK, we’ll let him have that. Now he has us engaged in yet another third middle eastern war and so, I think, talk about March Madness. Can anybody say Jimmy Carter?” she said.  “That’s kind of where we’re going.”

She mentioned her Iowa roots, then talked about the stakes of 2012 before launching into a Power Point presentation in which numbers (in white) were featured on the black screens to her left and right.

She decried the national debt.

“That made our Chinese banker friends very happy and you know that the Chinese leader is named President Hu and so clearly we know now ‘Hu is your daddy,'” she joked.  The crowd clapped and hooted.  “Who says Iowa doesn’t have a sense of humor?  It’s born right here.”

She marched on through other numbes, declaring one was “enough to curl your hair.”

She got to 3.8 million.

“What could that be?” she asked the crowd, then quickly supplied the answer. “That’s approximately the number of words in the tax code…Let’s make it simple.  What about fairer?  Anybody like a fair tax or a flat tax?”

The crowd erupted.  Her final quip on this topic:  “Our current United States tax code is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Another number from the Bachmann Power Point: 1.83.

She said it was the price that gasoline was the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president.

“Is it time for a change?” she asked, borrowing a bit from Obama’s 2008 campaign theme.

“Yes,” the crowd responded.

“Absolutely it’s time for a change!” Bachmann returned.

She dismissed Washington, D.C. as the place “where the money spigot never shuts off.”

She mentioned New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, and the crowd booed.  She chided them:  “Now, we’re nice here in Iowa.  I just want to remind you.”

She suggested Weiner was seeking a waiver from “ObamaCare”.

Bachmann then quipped: “I want a waiver from the last two years of President Obama. Are you with me?”

If you listen to the speech, you will know that the crowd was with her at this point.

She ridiculed federal funding for “cowboy poetry festivals” and derided the idea of new regulations on light bulbs.

“I introduced the Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act,” she said, getting a strong positive response from the crowd. “I think Iowans are to be trusted on the choice of their own lightbulbs.”

She gave a sort of shout out to governors in Wisconsin and Ohio who have taken on public sector unions.

Remember Obama’s “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” speech?  Bachmann’s next riff was reminiscent of that.

“We are the answer to the problem,” she said, before launching into the next part of her speech which was about the “intact, two-parent family” being the driving force for America’s “economic growth, health and well-being.”

“…We’ve been told we need a truce on social issues and I would highly disagree with that because social conservatism is fiscal conservatism,” she said.

Bachmann returned to the tax issue, mentioning she’d been a tax lawyer.  “We make the tax code simpler by first abolishing it,” she declared, getting another strong positive response from crowd, including one very loud whistle.  “And from there, we’re going to fly.”

She suggested it was time for a “change in attitude” in D.C., but then put a finer point on it: “What we need is a change in address form for the person who is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

That drew sustained applause, too.

Bachmann compared herself with “another dark-horse candidate” — Abraham Lincoln.

“What Lincoln said…is still true today in Des Moines, Iowa….will we survive to the latest generation?  Will we survive?…I say to you…don’t look to me. Don’t look to any other politician…the idea of liberty is so great and so precious that the founders recognized that it would only be entrusted to the brain trust and that’s the people of this nation.”

“…I am so absolutly confident in 2012…America has made their decision.  We are going to take our country back…We are going to have a better day….Are you in?  Are you in for 2012? Are you in?  Are you going to make it happen?”

Bachmann concluded by saying she’s in.  Indeed.

Gingrich speaks @ King’s conference in DSM (audio)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the second prospective “candidate” to speak at Congressman Steve King’s conference in Des Moines. Listen: GingrichMarch26

“First of all, it’s great to be here and I’m very proud of what…Steve King is doing in Washington to defund ObamaCare,” Gingrich said to start. “…What he is doing is really important because we have to draw the line in the sand this year and we have to stop ObamaCare being implemented this year.”

(Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour — the first speaker at this event — did not do the same kind of homage to King, BTW.)

Gingrich mentioned some aspects of the health care reform act dealing with dental care. “It’s not a laughing matter and Steve King understand that,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich then mentioned his wife, Callista, who went to college in northeast Iowa. “She spent four years getting to know Iowa winters better, but since she’s from western Wisconsin, she actually thought of it as going south for the winter,” he joked.

Gingrich declared himself “very optimistic” about the 2012 election.  “I think there are three large topics on which we can recenter America.  The first is values…the second is the economy…and the third is national security,” he said.

Gingrich derided “many of our tenured faculty” at colleges around the country, then suggested “every class in K-12, in every tax-paid college university should teach the Declaration of Independence.” This drew applause.  “And I don’t care what the ACLU says, they should teach it accurately and they should explain what the Founding Fathers meant when they said, ‘We held these truths self-evident…and that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.'”

Gingrich next rejected the idea the GOP should focus on economic rather than social issues in 2012.  “If you don’t start with values…the rest of it doesn’t matter.  Life is not just about money,” Gingrich said, to applause.

Gingrich addressed economic issues, then went to national security, addressing his statements about Libya.  (Read background here.)

Gingrich said at this point, the “only rational objective” of the current U.S. involvement in Libya is the removal of Gaddafi “as quickly as possible.”

Gingrich, as he has recently, derided Obama as a “spectator in chief” who is “confused” about “whether his job is kicking a soccer ball” or being the leader of the free world.

Gingrich mentioned the 200 executive orders he’d sign on day one if he’s elected president.

“We can turn it around with remarkable speed,” Gingrich said as he neared conclusion.