Barbour speaks at King’s conference in Des Moines (audio)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is the first “candidate” to speak to the crowd at Congressman Steve King’s conference today.

AUDIO: 18 min

“I am glad to be here,” he began, joking he’d been given a “fast, hard clock” to limit his remarks to 16 minutes & 48 seconds.  “(King) told me I was lucky to be doing this without an interpreter,” Barbour joked in his southern drawl, getting a laugh out of the audience.

Barbour suggested it was important to have a “narrow focus” in 2012. “For 2012 it is absolutely critical we elect a new POTUS and I want to say to you that I think the best way…perhaps the only way is for us to make sure the 2012 campaign is focused on policy…because the American people agree with us on policy,” Barbour said.

Next, Barbour asked if folks in the crowd were “old enough to remember Ed Sullivan.”  Then he told a story about an appearance Conrad Hilton, founder of the luxury hotel chain that bears his name.  Sullivan, according to Barbour, asked Hilton what the single most important thing he wanted to convey to the American people. Barbour delivered this as the laugh line: “Put the shower curtain inside the tub.”

As the crowd’s laughter died down, Barbour added: “Now there’s a guy that knew what was important to him. What is important to us is to have a new president on January 20, 2013. We can’t lose focus on that.”

A reporter in the back of the room was doing a “live shot” and Barbour took a shot at him.  “Our friends in the news media, the ones in the back talkin’,” Barbour said, to applause from the crowd. Barbour continued his thought, then, suggesting the news media has gotten Obama wrong.

Barbour criticized Obama for proposing increases in taxes on the oil industry. “Who’s he think’s going to pay that? Exxon? That’s going to be paid by the people who are pumping gas and diesel fuel into their cars & trucks,” Barbour said.

Barbour cast Democrats as a party who thinks “a bigger government means a bigger economy.” Barbour said a bigger government means a smaller economy. “When the government sucks all the money out of the economy, how is the private sector supposed to create jobs?”

Barbour dismissed the “government elites in Washington” toward the end of his remarks.

“I wish we had some people in this administration who’d signed the front side of a paycheck in their lives,” Barbour said, to applause, “some people who understand it’s the private sector that creates wealth.”

Congressman King’s big Saturday shindig

Congressman Steve King (photo courtesy of Dave Davidson,

A handfull of candidates who have said they are pondering a campaign for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination are due to speak today in Des Moines at a forum organized by Congressman Steve King and his staff.

This isn’t the first forum King’s organized.  A few years ago he held a forum in this very same downtown Des Moines hotel, focuwed on immigration reform, featuring then-Congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and others who share King’s viewpoint on the issue.

Today’s event is billed as the “Conservative Principles Conference.”  King was introduced to the crowd shortly after 9 a.m. this morning as the “most sought after endorsement” in Iowa for a presidential candidate.  As you may recall, King endorsed Fred Thompson in the closing days of 2007.

King declared himself “wide awake and ready to go and launch off this caucus season.”

Iowans have an “extraordinary responsibility” to shape the campaign debate, according to King, who described that responsibility as both “a privilege and a blessing…I know how seriously you take this.”

King spoke for several minutes, referring to the next GOP nominee as a “him.”  Listen to KingMarch26

Branstad asks former aides to serve on Transpo Panel

Governor Branstad was just at the Iowa DOT Commission meeting in Ames today, announcing the membership of his “Transportation 2020 Citizens Advisory Committee.”  (Observers can’t really remember the last time a governor actually attended a commission’s meeting.)

Branstad’s asked a number of folks who had roles in his previous administrations to be a part of this “2020” transportation vision thing.   Here’s the list of “2020” panel members and I’ve added a note behind the names of those who I remember having roles in Branstad 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 & 4.0.  I believe this administration is Branstad 5.0, as in the fifth term.

Co-Chair – Nancy Richardson – Coralville
*Co-Chair – Allan Thoms – Cedar Rapids (Thoms, pronounced TOHMZ, like big old scholarly books are called “tomes”, was Dubuque’s mayor, then he signed on to be Branstad’s economic development director.  Thoms later moved onto the governor’s central office staff, serving as chief of staff, before being named by Branstad to chair the Iowa Utilities Board)
Scott Cirksena – Clive                                                     
Jeff Corkery – Peosta                                                            
*Catherine Dunn – Dubuque (Catherine Dunn was president of Clarke College in Dubuque; she was appointed by Branstad to serve on the Iowa Transportation Commission in 1989 and in 1994 became the first woman to chair the commission.)                                
*Geri Huser – Altoona (No Branstad link, per se, but she is a former State Representative – a Democrat– who lost her bid for reelection last November to Republican Kim Pearson.)                                                           
*Jim Kersten – Fort Dodge (Kersten is a former Branstad legislative liason who also served as a state senator.)                                                        
Lindsey Larson – Jefferson                                                   
Rose Mitchell – West Des Moines                                                      
*Ann Trimble Ray – Early (Ray works with the coalitions/networks that support expansion of Highways 20 and 30.  She has also worked on Congressman Steve King’s campaigns.)                                                
Dan Wiedemeier – Burlington
Larry Winum – Glenwood

Rick Santorum @ Iowa Faith & Family Coalition event

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the fifth and final potential presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event this evening in Waukee, Iowa.  (Listen to his speech)

“Steve, good to be with you, Steve.  That’s cheap,” Santorum said after he was introduced, referencing former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s faux pas  just a few seconds earlier, as Pawlenty had mistakenly called Steve Scheffler (president of the Iowa Faith & Family Coalition) Chuck rather than Steve. (Pawlenty told the crowd he knows a Chuck Scheffler from Minnesota.)

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Santorum then said, apologizing to Pawlenty. “I’ve done that a million times, so sorry.”

Santorum began his remarks by telling the crowd: “This is not just another speech to me…This is a group that means a lot to me, because this is a group that I’ve been attached to the hip from, working in the vineyards.”

America isn’t about great wealth or great power, according to Santorum. “The purpose of America is to create an opportunity for each and every person…to live as they were called to live,” he said.

As for that “truce” on social issues that another prospective presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, has suggested? “You can’t,” Santorum told the crowd.

Santorum joked about being referred to as an “ultra-conservative” Republican. “My kids used to think my first name was ‘Ultra,'” Santorum said, to applause and laughter from the crowd.  “…Once you fight for the moral fabric of your country, you’re labeled.”

After a brief foray into foreign policy (the Obama Administration, according to Santorum, took the side of the mullahs), Santorum returned to the domestic issue of partial birth abortion.

“I’m Ultra,” Santorum declared. “Why? Because I share your values and I fought for them.”

“…We have an opportunity in this election to frame a great moral cause.  Everyone wants to talk about the economy…It’s vitally important to create jobs…repeal ObamaCare, but what’s the mission?” Santorum asked. “…We have to paint an America…where Americans believe in themselves again.”

Santorum, in hushed tones, urged the people in the crowd to “put your citizenship cap on” and be faithful, then closed with a story about the partial birth abortion debate in the U.S. Senate that he often tells in speeches.

Speeches over at 8:34 p.m. central time.

King @ Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event

Congressman Steve King is the second office-holder to speak.  (I suspect he will not be as brief as Governor Branstad.)

King talked about his grand-kids, and then launched into a discussion of last fall’s judicial retention election before lambasting the Obama Administration for announcing last week that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

“That’s a violation of their oath of office,” King said, to applause. The applause was even louder when King vowed to cut Attorney General Eric Holder’s budget in response.

King mentioned cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood and “ObamaCare” — and he threw in a shout out to his “friend Michele Bachmann” who he said was “there with me” on all of that.  Bachmann is not among the potential/prospective/probable presidential candidates who are here to speak at this evening’s event.

King suggested Republicans in 2012 need an alternative to James Carville’s infamous “It’s the economy, stupid” placard.  He suggested this: “If we get the culture right, the economy will be right eventually.”

Santorum signs up for King event

Two potential presidential candidates have now committed to be at Congressman Steve King’s fundraiser in Des Moines on March 26, 2011.  South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint was the first to sign up; now former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is on board. Read details below.

Santorum Commits to King’s Conservative Principles Conference
Event set for March 26 in Des Moines with Strawn as banquet emcee

For Immediate Release: February 8, 2011

Des Moines, Iowa – Congressman Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference will include former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The potential 2012 Presidential candidate has confirmed his participation in the March 26th event being organized by King’s leadership political action committee.

“I am pleased to have Senator Santorum committed to participating in my Conservative Principles Conference,” King stated. “Iowans will appreciate this opportunity to hear from Senator Santorum and work together to shape the agenda of our nation.”

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to share my views with conservative activists from across Iowa and discuss how we can best tackle the economic, national security and cultural challenges our country is facing,” said Senator Santorum.

[Read more…]

Boswell’s buddy for SOTU

Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) has a date for tonight’s State of the Union address.   From Jane Slusak, Boswell’s press secretary:

He has made plans to sit with Congressman Mike Conaway from Texas. He is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, which the Congressman serves on as Ranking Member.

In case you haven’t been following the saga, some members of congress are literally trying to mix it up tonight, sitting with someone of the opposing party. It means there won’t be Republicans on one side of the room and Democrats on the other when the president gives his speech in less than an hour.  Senator Grassley (R-New Hartford) has a date. Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron) does not.  Here’s a bit more about the whole “prom night without the corsages” atmosphere, with details about Congressman Tom Latham (R-Ames) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Mt Vernon).  UPDATE:  Loebsack will sit with Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

King on picking his seat, getting a “date” to SOTU

Congressman Steve King responded to The Daily Caller’s query about who he may be sitting with tonight at the State of the Union Address.  (If you’re just tuning in, there’s been an attempt to get Democrats and Republicans to avoid sitting in partisan sections and, instead, mix up the seating chart as a show of bipartisanship.)  Here’s a quote from the Caller story:

“If they come over and sit with me, I’m happy to do that,” King said when asked if he would sit with a Democrat during next Tuesday’s speech. “But I don’t think I can actually go over and actually pick a seat. It’s hard enough to just find a place to sit down in there. It’s just packed.”

Angle on the “red carpet” in Iowa

Is this is a sign of presidential ambitions?  Sharron Angle, the 2010 GOP nominee for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat (she lost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), is going to be in Iowa soon.  Read all about it below:

Sharron Angle Goes to Iowa

Former US Senate Nominee to Join Iowa Conservative Leaders

Des Moines, IA — The Genesis Code is proud to announce that former U.S. Senate nominee Assemblywoman Sharron Angle will be attending the film’s red carpet VIP premiere in Johnston, Iowa on January 26th.

The film hits on three hot-button issues that will be factors in the 2012 Presidential contest: the battle between science and faith, the religious discrimination of Christians on college campuses, and the right to life.
“We are very thankful that Sharron Angle and other Iowa conservative leaders see the importance of our movie and the issues we explore,” said Jerry Zandstra, Vice President of American Epic Entertainment and former Brownback for President National Chairman. “Science vs faith, religious discrimination, and the right to life are going to play a part in the 2012 Presidential contest and it will be interesting to see which candidates are willing to take the lead on issues of importance to people of faith.”

Several big-name Iowa politicos are making an appearance. Two Republican National Committee Members from Iowa will attend the premier: Kim Lehman, President of Iowa Right to Life and Board Member of the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute, and Steve Scheffler of the Iowa Christian Alliance. Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, Matt Strawn, will also be attending. Jerry Zandsta, who plays the Minister in the film, will also be attending.

The Genesis Code follows a young college student, Kerry Wells, whose desire to be a paleontologist is jeopardized by faculty prejudice against her because of her Christian faith. She sets out to show how Genesis and her science textbook reinforce each other’s claims, and her remarkable journey will change the lives of everyone around her.

Actors in the film include former Presidential candidate Fred Thompson and Academy Award winners Earnest Borgnine and Louis Fletcher.

The screening will take place on Wednesday, January 26 from 7:30pm – 10:30pm at the Carmike Wynnsong 16 located at 5233 Stoney Creek Court., Johnston, Iowa.

Who’s their date?

As you may have heard, all the collest kids in the U.S. Senate and Househave been landing dates for tonight’s State of the Union address.  Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted about it yestserday:

My date for State of Union is Sen Wyden. My partner in fight agst secret holds. He invited

So Grassley got asked to go.  I’ve been checking with the rest of the Iowa delegation, but none of the others seem to have landed a buddy from the other party to sit with tonight.   Here’s a bit about the angst-ridden leiglsators who don’t have a “date” for tonight, with a reference to Congressman Steve King.