Thoughts on the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses

Expanded from a short take for CNN

The seventh Republican presidential debate and the first without Donald Trump produced more substantive talk about issues and some strong performances by candidates near the bottom of the pack. For political junkies who missed the debate for whatever reason, the New York Times posted the full transcript here. My thoughts are after the jump.

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A Record of Leadership: Why I Support O’Malley

An Iowan too young to caucus explains why he is urging others to stand in Martin O’Malley’s corner. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I was just ten years old when the unthinkable occurred. A man brought four semiautomatic weapons to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and started firing. Shooting over 150 rounds in a few minutes, he killed sixteen six-year-olds, four seven-year-olds, and six adults. As horrifying as this massacre of first-graders and their teachers is, similar assaults have occurred throughout our country on an almost daily basis. The unthinkable has now become a regular event—a church in Charleston, a movie theater in Louisiana, a community college in Oregon, a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, and in so many other places all around the country. We need common sense gun reform to stop this extreme violence, and that’s one of many reasons why I’m supporting Governor Martin O’Malley for President.

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Grassley introduces Trump at rally: "We have an opportunity once again to make America great again"

How much do Ted Cruz’s fellow U.S. Senate Republicans not want him to be their party’s standard-bearer? So much that Senator Chuck Grassley introduced Donald Trump at a rally in Pella this afternoon, telling the crowd, "We have an opportunity once again to make America great again."

Technically, Grassley didn’t endorse Trump for president, and aides for the senator told Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register that Grassley "will introduce Marco Rubio at the candidate’s Iowa rally next Saturday." Still, it sends a strong message when a politician of Grassley’s stature echoes Trump’s campaign slogan at a rally for Trump. Anna Palmer reported for Politico from Pella,

“I’m excited to be invited to be here. I’m excited as I see so many large crowd at various events around Iowa,” Grassley said. “I’m excited to see the big crowds because of the big energy that comes with it and we’ve got to keep up this energy that’s shown here today and many other places around Iowa because that is what is going to take for us to win back the White House in November.”

Grassley endorsed his Senate colleague Bob Dole before the 1988 and 1996 Iowa caucuses and supported the establishment’s choice George W. Bush before the 2000 caucuses, but he didn’t pick a candidate out of the crowded GOP fields in 2008 or 2012. On January 11, Grassley told Alex Schuman,

“I’ve told all these candidates as long as eight months ago that I wasn’t going to get involved,” he said Monday. “I’ve told them I wasn’t going to back anybody. I think I’m a person who has a great deal of credibility. My word is good.”

Sen. Grassley continued, “I think it would hurt my credibility if I were to step out for that person or any other person right now.”

Speaking to Politico’s Burgess Everett on January 20, Grassley criticized Cruz’s stand on various energy issues and said he respected Governor Terry Branstad’s call the previous day for Iowans to defeat the Texas senator. But Grassley added that he "won’t get political about it" and campaign against Cruz. I wonder what changed his mind over the past few days. My hunch is that some internal polling is showing Cruz way ahead of others in the field. Although Trump is occupying an outsider niche in this presidential race, it could hardly be more clear that Cruz is the candidate most widely hated by the Republican establishment.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: On second thought, leave Grassley out of the "anyone but Cruz" establishment crowd. Shortly after the Trump event, Jason Noble reported for the Des Moines Register, "Several other campaigns – including those of candidates Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Rand Paul – confirmed they had received offers in recent days to appear with Grassley." On Saturday evening, the Cruz campaign told Teddy Schleifer that Grassley will appear at a Cruz rally on January 29. So the senior senator appears to be making himself available to all the presidential candidates during the final days of the caucus race.

P.S.- Senator Grassley’s grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley, has not endorsed a presidential candidate this cycle. Grassley is the new Iowa House Appropriations Committee chair and widely considered a likely candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture in 2018, assuming the current holder of that office, Bill Northey, runs for governor.

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Keystone Killer to Headline Climate Caucus

"Without Jane Kleeb, the Keystone XL pipeline might be a done deal right now." -promoted by desmoinesdem

Keystone Killer to Headline Climate Caucus

by Ed Fallon

The movement toward climate sanity has had plenty of set-backs over the years. But the tide is turning, and our recent victory with the defeat of the Keystone Pipeline is indicative of momentum swinging our way.

No one has been more instrumental in the fight to block Keystone than Jane Kleeb, the Nebraska activist who fired-up the national effort by building a powerful coalition of rural folks not typically involved in these types of struggles.

So, as folks across Iowa find themselves battling the Bakken Pipeline (truly, Keystone’s replacement), what better person to headline the Climate Emergency Caucus on Friday, January 29th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the auditorium of Central Campus at 1800 Grand Avenue in Des Moines?

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Memo to journalists: Craig Robinson's firm makes money off the Iowa caucus campaign

Craig Robinson is among the go-to Republicans for national press covering the Iowa caucuses. His insights are partly informed by a wealth of experience: as a staffer on Steve Forbes’ presidential campaign before the 2000 caucuses, as political director of the state GOP during the year before the 2008 caucuses, and as publisher of The Iowa Republican blog since 2009.

One salient fact rarely, if ever, makes it into the news stories quoting Robinson about prospects for Republican contenders in Iowa: his company Global Intermediate has been paid to do direct mail for or against certain candidates in the field.

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Terry Branstad's warning about Ted Cruz may backfire in the Iowa caucuses

Governor Terry Branstad has long said he did not plan to endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses. But speaking to journalists this morning at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, Branstad said "it would be very damaging to our state" if Ted Cruz wins the caucuses.

The governor’s anti-endorsement could help Cruz more than it hurts him.

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