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Steve King's stand on birthright citizenship more mainstream than ever in GOP

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 19, 2015 at 11:34:17 AM CDT

Just four years ago, Representative Steve King's commitment to ending birthright citizenship was considered such a political liability for Republicans that King was passed over to chair the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration.

Now a growing number of Republican presidential candidates would end birthright citizenship for children born to parents not authorized to live in the U.S. In fact, GOP presidential contenders who share King's perspective outnumber those who are willing to defend current law, which has been settled for more than a century.

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Five shocking findings from Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa survey

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 11, 2015 at 19:58:05 PM CDT

Public Policy Polling released its latest Iowa caucus numbers yesterday. As other recent surveys of Iowa Democrats have shown, Hillary Clinton still leads by a considerable margin, but her lead has shrunk since the spring, as Iowans have learned more about other contenders. PPP now has Clinton at 52 percent support among "usual Democratic primary voters," while Bernie Sanders has 25 percent, Martin O'Malley 7 percent, Jim Webb 3 percent, and Lincoln Chafee 1 percent.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump leads among "usual Republican primary voters" with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson and Scott Walker (12 percent each), Jeb Bush (11 percent), Carly Fiorina (10 percent), Ted Cruz (9 percent), Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio (6 percent each), John Kasich and Rand Paul (3 percent each), Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum (2 percent each), Chris Christie (1 percent), and Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki (less than 1 percent).

Dropping to 3 percent earned Paul the "biggest loser" title from Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen and was the only topline result that shocked me. Things got way more interesting in the cross-tabs. I enclose below the five findings that struck me most.

As a bonus, I added at the end of this post completely unsurprising numbers from PPP's survey of registered Iowa voters: Governor Terry Branstad is underwater with 42 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval. Last month's high-profile line-item vetoes are even less popular.

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Joni Ernst confirms she won't endorse before the Iowa caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 08:40:04 AM CDT

The first Republican presidential debates did not affect U.S. Senator Joni Ernst's plans to remain neutral before the 2016 Iowa caucuses.  
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Republican presidential debates discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 07, 2015 at 00:09:01 AM CDT

The Republican presidential candidates debated for the first time today in Cleveland. First, the seven contenders who didn't make the cut for the prime-time event participated in a "happy hour" debate (some commentators called it the "junior varsity" or "kids' table" debate). I missed the beginning of that event, but from what I saw, Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal stood out. Jindal's closing statement seemed the strongest to me (if I try to imagine how a conservative would receive the messages). Rick Santorum and Rick Perry had some good moments. Lindsey Graham seemed to give rehearsed answers that weren't always relevant to the question. George Pataki was memorable only for being the sole pro-choice candidate in a field of seventeen. Jim Gilmore failed to provide any good reason for him to be there.

The Fox News panel seemed determined to go after Donald Trump. He didn't have a convincing story for why he has changed his mind on issues like abortion rights and single-payer health care. His answer to the question about his corporate bankruptcies struck me as extremely weak and weaselly. On the plus side, he deflected a question about his disgusting sexist remarks by beating his chest about political correctness. He also got the most speaking time--twice as much as Rand Paul, who had the least time to speak.

Paul scored a hit by calling attention to the fact that Trump won't rule out running for president as an independent. Paul also slammed Chris Christie for giving President Barack Obama "a big hug." Although Christie handled that exchange well, I am skeptical he can overcome his high negatives with GOP base voters. I felt Paul got the better of Christie during their heated exchange over warrantless wiretapping and the Fourth Amendment. UPDATE: As of Friday morning, a "Vine" of Paul rolling his eyes while Christie talked had more than 4 million loops.

John Kasich staked out a moderate-conservative niche that the pundits loved. I'm not convinced he can become a real contender for the nomination, but he certainly has a story to tell.

I don't understand the hype about Marco Rubio. He doesn't impress me at all.

Jeb Bush didn't speak fluidly or forcefully. I read that he didn't do "live" debate prep with his staff. If that's true, it was a mistake. Scott Walker was also underwhelming, and I expected more of a splash from Ted Cruz, though maybe they had some better moments in the parts I missed. In contrast, Mike Huckabee is an excellent communicator. Ben Carson didn't seem to get questions that allowed him to distinguish himself. His tax reform proposal is based on what the Bible says about tithing.

Factcheck.org exposed some false statements from the "happy hour" and the prime time debate.

Any comments about the debates or the Republican presidential race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Trump's further insults to Megyn Kelly of Fox News got him uninvited from this weekend's Red State forum, prompting a typically outrageous response from the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, sexist tweets about Kelly have exploded since the debate. I believe women watching the debate would have felt deeply alienated by how many in the audience approved of Trump's answer to the question about his sexism.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Hall of Fame and Family Leadership Summit edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 11:52:06 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

All five Democratic presidential candidates appeared at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids on Friday night. I've posted below my impressions from the speeches; you can watch the videos on C-SPAN. It's a shame the venue couldn't accommodate more people, because lots of interested Iowa Democrats were unable to get tickets for the event.

Before the Hall of Fame dinner, I spent some time with an old friend who's a huge Hillary Clinton supporter. Huge, as in, she didn't take down her Hillary yard sign until the grass was long enough to need mowing in the spring of 2008. She mentioned to me that she's relieved to see Clinton working hard this year instead of "ignoring" Iowa like last time. When I told my friend that Hillary visited Iowa more than 30 times in 2007, spending all or part of 70 days in the state, she was surprised. I'm amazed by how many Iowans have bought into the media-constructed narrative that Clinton "bombed" in the caucuses because she took the state for granted.

Ten Republican presidential candidates came to Ames on Saturday for the Family Leadership Summit organized by Bob Vander Plaats' FAMiLY Leader organization. C-SPAN posted all of those speeches here. As usual, Donald Trump sucked up most of the oxygen in the room by questioning whether Senator John McCain had been a hero during the Vietnam War. O.Kay Henderson posted the audio at Radio Iowa. Rival presidential candidates with the exception of Ted Cruz rushed to condemn Trump's remarks. Some of the Family Leadership Summit attendees may have been more upset by Trump's comments about his three marriages and his admission that when he's done something wrong, "I don't bring God into that picture."

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Obergefell Decision Enhances Religious Liberty

by: JoeStutler

Tue Jul 07, 2015 at 09:20:55 AM CDT

(I couldn't agree more. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Since the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, affirming the right of same-gender couples throughout the country to marry, some politicians and pundits have claimed religious liberty is now threatened in our nation.

"This decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty," said Mike Huckabee. Bobby Jindal said the decision was the start of an "all-out assault on religious freedom." Ted Cruz said, "Religious liberty has never been so threatened as it is today."

Of course, that's not true. The decision has no adverse impact on any religious institutions or faith leaders. In fact, the decision has quite the opposite impact. It's a victory for religious liberty.  

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New Q-poll finds smaller lead for Scott Walker in Iowa caucus field

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 13:10:00 PM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers shows a smaller lead for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and a half-dozen candidates fighting for second place in a field of sixteen candidate. Click here for the polling memo and here for more on the methodology and polling sample. The statistical margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percent for this live interviewer survey of 666 likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers between June 20 and 29. Walker still has a statistically significant lead with 18 percent of respondents naming him as their first choice. The rest of the field is clustered at 10 percent or lower, but there is a semblance of a top tier, comprised of Ben Carson and Donald Trump (10 percent each), Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (9 percent each), Jeb Bush (8 percent), and Marco Rubio (7 percent).

All other candidates are at 5 percent or below: Mike Huckabee and "don't know/didn't answer" (5 percent each), Rick Perry and Rick Santorum (4 percent each), Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal (3 percent each), John Kasich (2 percent), and Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie (1 percent each). George Pataki did not register even 1 percent support.

A poll like this exposes the absurdity of television networks restricting debates to the top ten candidates in a field of sixteen (fourteen declared already, with Walker and Kasich planning to announce later this month). The GOP presidential field is what you might call a "right royal mess."  

After the jump I've posted highlights on the favorability numbers from the latest Q-poll. Any comments about the Republican caucuses are welcome in this thread. Last Friday, Jennifer Jacobs published an interesting Des Moines Register story about possible changes to the Iowa GOP's rules for "binding" its delegates to presidential candidates before the 2016 Republican National Convention.

P.S.- Retail politics are important in Iowa, but Christie's poor favorability ratings in this poll and others show that coming here often (nine times in the last three years alone, plus several visits in 2011 and 2012) won't necessarily endear a candidate to Iowa Republicans.  

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Branstad will seek to change GOP presidential candidate debate rules

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 15, 2015 at 18:52:09 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad will appeal to television networks and the Republican National Committee leadership to allow more GOP presidential candidates to participate in debates, Radio Iowa's reported today. It's not every day I agree with Iowa's governor, especially on a matter of political fairness, but Branstad got this one right.  
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Weekend open thread: latest Des Moines Register Iowa caucus poll edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 07, 2015 at 17:00:34 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome. After the jump I've enclosed highlights from Selzer & Co's latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics. I had planned to focus on that poll last weekend, until I heard the devastating news about Beau Biden.

Speaking of the Selzer poll, I'm waiting for the self-styled "Dr. Politics" (Iowa State University professor Steffen Schmidt) to square his assertion that Iowa Democrats "truly hate [Hillary] Clinton's 'listening tour' campaign" with Selzer's findings that 86 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers view Clinton favorably, and 57 percent say she is their first choice for president. Yes, Bernie Sanders got great turnout for his Iowa events last weekend. But where is the evidence that Iowans "hate" the Clinton campaign?

The Des Moines Register ran lots of articles featuring poll results this past week. I got a kick out of the "Captain Obvious" headline for this piece: "Moderates, very conservative in GOP not always in sync." You don't say. I guess that's why moderate and very conservative Republicans have gravitated toward different presidential candidates every four years for the last several decades.

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Straw poll disaster shaping up for Iowa GOP (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 28, 2015 at 12:28:56 PM CDT

The August straw poll is traditionally the most-watched "cattle call" before the Iowa Republican caucuses and an important state GOP fundraiser.

Responding to criticism of past straw polls, the Republican Party of Iowa revamped this year's plans, hoping to encourage broad participation. However, signs point to most of the top-tier presidential candidates opting out.

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Just when I was starting to think Mike Huckabee was smart

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 26, 2015 at 16:13:54 PM CDT

Blogger's lament: let's say you have a post in progress about a Republican carving out a promising niche in a crowded presidential field. He's talking about highly salient issues for non-wealthy Americans, in a way that will distinguish him from most of his rivals. Not only do those policies relate to the well-being of many voters, they also allow the candidate to position himself against "elite" GOP strategists and other establishment figures hated by the party's conservative base.

Then the guy does the stupidest thing you could imagine.

With one Facebook status update on Friday, Mike Huckabee may have wiped out any chance of broadening his appeal through the smart decision to focus his early campaign rhetoric on Social Security and trade.

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Memorial Day weekend open thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 24, 2015 at 10:00:00 AM CDT

What's on your mind this holiday weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome. For Memorial Day-related links, click here or here.

My social media feeds have been blowing up with comments about the Josh Duggar molestation allegations. The story has evoked strong emotions in many women, whether or not they've ever watched Duggar-themed reality tv. Sad to say, my friends who grew up in conservative Christian patriarchal households were not surprised by what Duggar allegedly did as a teenager. Some have shared appalling accounts of how girls and women are socialized to tolerate abuse or blame themselves later. After the jump I've enclosed a horrific document on "Counseling Sexual Abuse," produced by the Institute in Basic Life Principles and used for many years by the Advanced Training Institute. The Recovering Grace website analyzes the document's "victim-blaming" and "callous dismissal of abuse survivors' pain" point by point. I am heartbroken for any woman who received that message in so-called "counseling."

Former Arkansas Governor and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee posted on Facebook an unbelievable defense of the Duggar family's conduct. Bleeding Heartland will have more to say on that in a future post. For now, I want to call attention to Huckabee's assertion that "He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities." Based on what we know now, the Duggar parents neither reported the alleged abuse promptly nor got professional therapy for their son or daughters. Local authorities destroyed the old police records of the case, so we may never know the whole story.

Final note, since Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer: it's worth re-reading Mario Vittone's reminder that "drowning doesn't look like drowning."

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A political match made in heaven: Ted Cruz and Matt Schultz

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 09:56:22 AM CDT

Former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced yesterday that he will chair Senator Ted Cruz's Iowa caucus campaign, calling the Texas senator "a consistent conservative who cares about liberty and won't back down from a fight." I can't think of a more perfect match for Cruz than Schultz, who talked a big game but had little to show for four years of political crusades in state government.
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Iowa caucus: PPP finds Walker leading GOP field, Clinton way ahead among Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 11:14:50 AM CDT

Public Policy Polling is out with its first Iowa caucus survey since last May. Click here for full results or here for Tom Jensen's polling memo. I enclose below highlights and my thoughts on the most interesting findings.

Any comments related to the Iowa caucus campaign are welcome in this thread.

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Four reasons Marco Rubio is making a big mistake

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 16:44:23 PM CDT

First-term Senator Marco Rubio will announce later today that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president rather than running for re-election to the U.S. Senate from Florida.

Even without hearing his stump speech, I have a feeling he will live to regret that choice.

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Nick Ryan puts the writing on the wall for Rick Santorum in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 11:41:25 AM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has visited Iowa lots of times since (barely) winning the 2012 GOP caucuses, but discouraging signs for his presidential aspirations continue to mount. He has been outshined by Senator Ted Cruz and others at several events drawing large conservative crowds here. One of his former Iowa staffers jumped ship for Cruz before eventually taking a position with former Texas Governor Rick Perry's political action committee. The most recent polls by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics indicated that Santorum is the first choice of only 3 percent or 4 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers.

Yesterday Maggie Haberman of the New York Times broke disastrous news for Santorum: Nick Ryan will lead a super-PAC for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee during the upcoming presidential campaign. Iowa's dark money king is best-known for leading the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, but in 2011 Ryan created and led a super-PAC which spent millions on Santorum's behalf before the presidential caucuses and primaries. He has also had close ties to The Iowa Republican blog's publisher Craig Robinson, who provided mostly favorable coverage to Santorum's campaign before the 2012 caucuses. The Iowa Republican has leaned toward other candidates Ryan favored in past elections, such as Jim Gibbons in the 2010 GOP primary to represent Iowa's third Congressional district and Mark Jacobs in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary.

Ryan aligning with a rival candidate is as significant as longtime Mitt Romney consultant David Kochel joining former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's political action committee a couple of months ago.

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Four reasons the Iowa caucuses will be a rude awakening for Ted Cruz

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 23, 2015 at 18:28:32 PM CDT

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas officially launched his presidential campaign this morning. Click here to watch his speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University or here to read the transcript.

As an outsider candidate, Cruz will need a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses to have any hope of becoming the last man standing against the establishment favorite for the GOP nomination. I don't see that happening.  

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Scott Walker's Iowa endorsements: Solid head start or Pawlenty redux?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 12:37:53 PM CDT

Late last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rolled out his first batch of prominent Iowa supporters: four Republican state senators and two central Iowa county officials.

The support for Walker follows two recent opinion polls showing him leading the pack of likely presidential candidates among Iowa Republican caucus-goers. If the last presidential campaign is any guide, though, early legislative endorsements tell us nothing about candidate performance on Iowa caucus night.

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New Iowa and swing state poll discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 06, 2015 at 10:18:02 AM CST

Iowa politics watchers are still talking about the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics. Bleeding Heartland discussed the topline Iowa caucus numbers here. Harry Enten took issue with various "Scott Walker leads" headlines, writing at FiveThirtyEight that the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll indicates "chaos" rather than the Wisconsin governor leading the Republican field. Pat Rynard's take on the implications for Democratic and Republican presidential contenders is at Iowa Starting Line.

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with Iowa Republican discourse shouldn't be surprised that Jeb Bush's stands on immigration reform and "Common Core" education standards are a "deal-killer" for many conservatives polled by Selzer. As for why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has the highest negatives (with 54 percent of GOP respondents viewing him unfavorably), there are many potential explanations. It's only been a year since the scandal involving politically-motivated bridge lane closures made national news. Before that, he angered social conservatives by signing a bill that bans "gay conversion therapy" and by not fighting a court ruling that overturned New Jersey's ban on same-sex marriage. Who knows, maybe some Iowa Republicans are still mad that Christie praised President Barack Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy right before the 2012 presidential election.

The Des Moines Register has rolled out other findings from the latest Iowa poll this week. Sad to say, I'm surprised that only 39 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers agreed with the statement "Islam is an inherently violent religion, which leads its followers to violent acts." I would have expected more to agree with that statement and fewer than 53 percent of GOP respondents to lean toward "Islam is an inherently peaceful religion, but there are some who twist its teachings to justify violence." Among likely Democratic caucus-goers in the sample, only 13 percent said Islam is inherently violent, while 81 percent said the faith is inherently peaceful.

Not surprisingly, Selzer's poll found a big partisan divide in whether Iowans see U.S. Senator Joni Ernst as a potential president. I wish the question wording had been more clear. To me, "Do you think Joni Ernst does or does not have what it takes to become president one day?" is ambiguous. Were they trying to get at whether respondents think Ernst could do the job, or whether she could be elected? I don't think Ernst has "what it takes" to be a good legislator, but obviously she had "what it takes" to win the Senate election. The results would be easier to interpret if respondents had been asked something like, "Would you ever consider voting for Joni Ernst for president someday?" or "Regardless of whether you might personally support her, do you think Joni Ernst could be elected president someday?"

No Des Moines Register story by Jennifer Jacobs about Ernst would be complete without some pro-Ernst slant, and in this case I had to laugh reading the pulled quotes from poll respondents. The ones who had good things to say about Ernst sounded reasonable and well spoken, whereas the one Democrat Jacobs quoted criticizing Ernst was made to look petty: "She kind of represents everything that makes me want to throw up in the morning - and I'm not even pregnant."

Bleeding Heartland doesn't usually comment on polls from other states, but Quinnipiac's latest findings from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida will interest any political junkie. In head to head match-ups, Hillary Clinton leads by double digits against every Republican tested in Pennsylvania. She "dominates" all of them in Ohio, except for Governor John Kasich, who trails her by a statistically insignificant 1 percent. She also has a comfortable lead in Florida against all of the Republicans except former Governor Jeb Bush, who trails by 1 percent. Yes, it's "too early" for a 2016 general election poll; in 1999 many polls found George W. Bush way ahead of Vice President Al Gore. Yes, name recognition may be contributing to Clinton's leads. Nevertheless, if the Q-poll is anywhere in the ballpark, the Republican nominee will go into the next presidential election as the underdog. Thanks to the "Big Blue Wall," Clinton could get to 270 electoral votes with the states John Kerry won in 2004 plus Florida, or the states Kerry won plus Ohio and one or two other smaller states (such as Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, or Iowa).

Republicans may take heart in the fact that some of their likely presidential contenders (such as Walker) were not included in Quinnipiac's swing-state polls.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Democrats should skip Bruce Rastetter's Iowa Agriculture Forum

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 17:58:09 PM CST

Seven potential Republican presidential candidates have accepted Bruce Rastetter's invitation to attend an "Iowa Agricultural Forum" in Des Moines next month, Erin Murphy reported yesterday. The seven are Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and national laughingstock sorry, entrepreneur Donald Trump. No doubt more Republicans will show up to be heard as well.

Rastetter also invited U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as well as a half-dozen Democrats who may run for president this cycle or in the future: Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb. So far no Democrats have accepted the invitation.

I hope they all steer clear of this event.

It's a bit late for Rastetter to reinvent himself as some kind of non-partisan elder statesman. He provided the seed money for the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund, which quickly grew into one of the biggest-spending and most deceptive dark money groups on the right. After leading an effort to bring Terry Branstad out of political retirement, Rastetter became the top individual donor to Branstad's 2010 campaign, landing a prestigious appointment to the influential Board of Regents. As a Regent, he has thrown his weight around more than most of his predecessors. In what many viewed as a conflict of interest, Rastetter continued to pursue a business project involving his biofuels company and Iowa State University in an extensive land acquisition in Tanzania. Later, he tried to get the University of Iowa's president to arrange a meeting where biofuels industry representatives could educate a prominent professor whom Rastetter considered "uninformed" about ethanol. Rastetter was also involved in the fiasco that eventually led to Senator Tom Harkin pulling his papers from Iowa State University.

Early in the 2012 election cycle, Rastetter led a group of Iowa businessmen who tried to recruit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for president. Although he is now cultivating an image as a corporate leader who is above the political fray, he will always be seen as a Republican power-broker in Iowa. I don't see much upside to any Democrat showing up to kiss Rastetter's ring. At best, the national and local reporters covering the Agriculture Forum will write about the "frosty reception" Democratic speakers got from a conservative audience. Or more likely, disruption by hecklers will overshadow any Democratic message on agricultural policy.

Democrats who may run for president will have lots of opportunities this year to address Iowans who might actually listen to them.  

Discuss :: (4 Comments)
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