Courtesy of State Central Committee member Gopal Krishna, my wife and I had great 8th row seats for the Iowa GOP/Fox News Presidential Debate.
The debate included: Speaker Gingrich; Governors: Huntsman, Pawlenty and Romney; Senator Santorum, Representatives Bachmann and Paul; and businessman Herman Cain.
Iâ€™m writing this post on Sunday morning, August 14th.Â I intended to write it before the Straw Poll, but I didnâ€™t get it done.Â My observations will include some thoughts about the Straw Poll, although I was not able to attend it in person.Â I donâ€™t believe in titling people as â€œwinnersâ€ or â€œlosersâ€ so I will define my analysis in terms of my personal expectations.
Governor Romney â€“ Mitt Romney spoke powerfully and articulately on every opportunity.Â I was particularly impressed with his handling of the â€œgotchaâ€ question about the Bain Capital investments in businesses that later failed and lost jobs.Â His answers on Romneycare are consistent with what can be expected of a Republican governor in a liberal state.Â I believe the 10th Amendment has meaning, so I respect his answer.Â Â He did not compete in the Straw Poll.
Senator Santorum â€“ Rick Santorum sprinted from anonymity to relevance with his precise, powerful responses on his legislative achievements related to welfare reform and middle east foreign policy.Â For me, his clash with Ron Paul made me consider again the Congressmanâ€™s views on foreign policy.Â His debate performance helped him to 4th place in the Straw Poll.
Speaker Gingrich â€“ Newt Gingrich had a great start when he criticized Chris Wallace for asking â€œgotchaâ€ questions. The crowd was 100% with him.Â Unfortunately, he finished weakly with an oddly placed plea for citizens to contact their representatives now because we canâ€™t wait until 2012â€™s election for leadership.
Representative Bachmann â€“ Michele Bachmann had an overall good night.Â I thought she had the most difficult of the â€œgotchaâ€ questions when she was asked if she would be submissive to her husband as President.Â She showed great control over her emotions.Â She came across as thoughtful and confident in her responses.Â I thought she relied too much on lines from her scripted stump speech.Â She is the Iowa leader coming into the debate and I thought she held her own, as confirmed by her 1st place showing in the Straw Poll.
Failed to Meet Expectations:
Representative Paul â€“ Ron Paul should be in my wheelhouse.Â I have strong Libertarian leanings in my political ideology.Â I thought he made a mistake engaging in the cat fight with Senator Santorum.Â He came across as a little shrill in his efforts to defend Iran and criticize past U.S. foreign policy.Â Â I imagine President Obama was nodding in agreement.Â Most of all, I donâ€™t understand why he does not ask his ardent supporters to show respect and refrain from aggravating the many people who attended the debate to hear candidates, not activists.Â Of course, he nearly won the Staw Poll, but Iâ€™m skeptical that his national polling numbers will improve based on the debate.
Herman Cain â€“ Herman Cain should also be in my wheelhouse.Â I believe strongly in capitalism as the engine of prosperity for America and the world.Â Hermanâ€™s strength is his ability to provide short understandable answers to complex questions.Â He has not moved quickly enough from process to solutions. I thought he performed at about the same level as the South Carolina debate, but that is not good enough at this point.
Governor Pawlenty â€“ Tim Pawlenty looked petty in the way he engaged Representative Bachmann.Â I realize that some of this was driven by the questions, but he would have been well served to remember Reaganâ€™s 11th Commandment.Â Â Given the time and effort he has put into his Iowa effort, his % of the vote in the Straw Poll confirms that he did not meet expectations in this debate. He had the organization, but he did not have the committed voters like Bachmann and Paul.Â Â I understand now why McCain did not pick him as his VP in 2008.
Editorial Note: My comments were finished before Governor Pawlenty dropped out.
Governor Huntsman – Jon Huntsman is a Republican.Â I donâ€™t understand why Dick Morris keeps saying he should run in the Democrat Party.Â Â I appreciate his willingness to stick with positions that he knows are unpopular with a meaningful segment of the Republican base.Â That takes character and integrity.Â I think he has those qualities. I thought his demeanor lacked sparkle and emotion.Â His responses were not crisp.Â He has not spent much time in Iowa so the Staw Poll doesnâ€™t mean much for his candidacy.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that I would be willing to work hard and support any of these candidates, Rick Perry or Sarah Palin should they win the Republican nomination for President.Â Each of them would be a far better President than Barack Obama, who has turned out to be the most partisan, divisive President of my lifetime.
What a great evening! Kathie Obradovich pointed out that it’s like being in an airplane hanger here at Hy-Vee Hall, but we have a great crowd, a lot of great Republicans and big group of press (75 registered), including a number of national names.
The theme of those speaking is what this crowd expects to hear: Reid and Pelosi are bringing the country down, killing jobs, killing the economy, stepping on the Constitution. What the country needs is smaller government, stronger jobs and economic growth, and greater fiscal responsibility, and Republicans can deliver.
Speakers included Republican Party of Iowa Co-chair Jim Kurtenbach, Representatives Steve King and Tom Latham, Senator Chuck Grassley, Former Governor and Candidate Terry Branstad, and Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn.
Terry’s speech was the most heavily targeted at his opponent (Governor Chet Culver), hitting on all of the same issues we’ve heard on the campaign trail and in this week’s debate. Of the warm-up speeches his was probably the longest. Terry was very warmly received by this crowd, and he also took the time to mention all of the state constitutional office candidates.
A nice video tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan was part of the program, which included highlights from some of his best speeches over the years.
Matt Strawn gave a great talk on the importance of stepping up now and making sure we get as many principled conservative Republicans elected this fall as we can, as he introduced Sarah Palin.
So, what did Sarah have to say?
Sarah complimented Iowa, complimented Terry Branstad, then talked about staying focused on the 2010 election and not the 2012 election, meaning she wasn’t going to talk about whether she is running for President in 2012 or not.
She talked about the need to elect leaders who respect “We the People”, like Senator Grassley, Tom Latham, Steve King, and then mentioned her endorsement of Brenna Findley.
What does “We the People” mean, anyway? Sometimes this term is being used lately in a context that sounds like it is equivalent to “We the Conservatives”. Sorry for the tangent.
Sarah went on to talk about how competition (in primaries) is good, but that it is now time to unite. If we want to stop Obama, Pelosi and Reid, then now is the time to unite. She talked about the need to move on now after having lost primaries. And the Need to set aside internal power struggles for the sake of the party. The need is great going into the mid-term elections.
Sarah then went into an extended criticism of the Press and emphasis on the importance of holding the Press accountable when they are telling untruths. She even Called some of the media “cowards”. She made a number of suggestions about what she thought party leadership should be doing right now.
I think she’s running for RNC Chair.
sarah said that Voters and patriots will restore America. Our (Republican) candidates will bring back constitutional government. She agrees with Obama that there are better days ahead… starting on November 2.
Sarah went on to provide a list of the problems with the current administration and Congress. Culminating with the President’s “foolish” attempts to run a conciliatory foreign policy with our enemies, in stark contrast to Reagan’s strong support of allies and strong confrontational hold against our enemies.
She believes that Principles and People will help hold our nation together, and that it’s time for a national rediscovery and renewal.
Overall, her speech was very pro-business, pro-individual, pro-radical renewal, and very contrary to current federal policies.
And finally the biggest philosophical dichotomy we struggle with against Democrats today: we don’t need to fundamentally transform America, we need to restore America.Â Great line, strongly received.
Although I agree with much of what Sarah had to say tonight, I will say I feel like I’ve been riding on a bullet train as she dropped a lot of already well-worn (literally word for word what I hear day after day from a variety of conservative sources) sound bytes as I passed by.Â She basically covered much of what conservatives are frustrated with in our current government and many of the principles that conservatives are anxious to see drive what our government does (and does not do).
Nothing that she shared tonight compelled me to hold her up (despite my support of her two years ago) as a strong candidate for President. But I do think she can continue to be a strong voice for the movement, the party, and for people who feel they are not being heard.
And many of those people may think this gives her credibility as a Presidential candidate. That’s okay… but I don’t agree. At least not yet.Â As I said before, she states a lot of what I agree with at a very high level, but I want to see some meat in the form of detailed policy statements.Â My friend Shane Vander Hart tells me I need to read some of her recent writings, which I will do.
Anyhow, it was very encouraging to see so many Republicans gathered to celebrate our history of strong conservative values, and to get enthused for the campaign we are fighting this year. Hats off to the Republican Party of Iowa for an awesome job with this event! And thanks to Danielle Plogmann (RPI Communications Director) for doing a great job providing for the press and bloggers!
At the blogging table we had Craig Robinson (the Godfather), Shane Vander Hart (the Preacher, and Sarah’s number 1 fan in the Iowa Blogosphere), Albert Bregar (hizzoner), Grant Young (he never said “epic” tonight) and the folks from The Cool Conservative.
Matt Strawn, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI), announced today that Sarah Palin will be the Party’s special guest at their upcoming fall dinner.Â The Reagan Dinner: A Salute to Freedom will be held on Friday, September 17 in the evening, at a location and time that are yet to be determined.
â€œThe Iowa GOP is pleased that Gov. Palin is traveling to Iowa to join the battle to return principled, conservative leadership to Iowa,â€ said Chairman Strawn. â€œOur economic and personal freedoms are under attack in Washington, DC and Des Moines. I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Gov. Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond.â€
As noted by Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican (TIR), the former Alaska governor and Vice-Presidential candidate has not been in Iowa since a book signing last December.Â Although she trails in a recent TIR poll behind three other candidates for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, she continues to be a favorite among many conservatives.
Strawn noted that while Palin is popular among Iowans, the current economy is challenging for many Iowa families who may wish to attend. That is why the Iowa GOP is offering Iowans an opportunity to volunteer through any of its ten statewide Victory Centers in exchange for a ticket to the Ronald Reagan â€œSalute to Freedomâ€ Dinner.Â For additional details regarding volunteer opportunities, Iowans should contact their local Iowa GOP Victory Center (locations and contacts listed below) in: Ames, Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids (Marion), Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Urbandale.
Tickets will be $100 each, or $1,000 for a table of eight, and can be reserved by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-282-8105.
Heather Fransen â€“ 641-210-2865
219 East Main St.
Ottumwa, IA 52501
Ryan Gough â€“ 515-991-6024
3590 109th St.
Urbandale, IA 50322
Bill Hunt â€“ 563-564-1011
4807 University Ave., Suite 201
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Kip Murphy â€“ 712-204-7022
600 South Main St.
Council Bluffs, IA 50613
Dane Nealson â€“ 515-418-6780
413 Northwestern Ave., Suite 101
Ames, IA 50010
Tyler Reyes â€“ 563-564-6288
311 W. Kimberly Rd.
Davenport, IA 52806
Phil Valenziano â€“ 563-564-1671
500 Marion Blvd.
Marion, IA 52302
Information available shortly (new location opening on 9/1/10)
Zach Whiting â€“ 712-204-8471
514 Nebraska St.
Sioux City, IA 52302
Aaron Windeknecht â€“ 563-564-6585
107 5th St.
Coralville, IA 52241