Branstad urged Army Corps to give last green light for Bakken pipeline

Governor Terry Branstad denied in September that he’s a friend to Big Oil interests seeking to build the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline across four states, including Iowa.

But in a move his office did not announce last week, Branstad joined North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to delay approval of the final federal easement needed to complete the pipeline.

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Six reasons Newt Gingrich would be a perfect running mate for Donald Trump

Former U.S. Representative Greg Ganske has a guest column in today’s Des Moines Register making the case for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as Donald Trump’s running mate. Gingrich has been unofficially auditioning for the job lately. Ganske argues that Newt has the qualities that Trump has said he’s looking for: someone with “a strong political background, who was well respected on the Hill, who can help me with legislation, and who could be a great president.”

Although Governor Terry Branstad is pushing Senator Joni Ernst to be Trump’s running mate, several well-known Iowa Republicans would probably be as thrilled with a Trump-Gingrich ticket as Ganske. Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer was Gingrich’s first high-profile endorser here in 2011, when she was Iowa House majority leader. State party chair Jeff Kaufmann also supported Gingrich before the 2012 caucuses, when Kaufmann served as Iowa House speaker pro-tem. In December 2011, Gingrich picked up support from several more GOP state lawmakers, including then Speaker Kraig Paulsen and rising star Chris Hagenow, who is now House majority leader.

While Gingrich has never struck a chord with me, he seems like a perfect match for Trump, and not only because he has the policy knowledge the presumptive Republican nominee lacks.

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Rick Perry takes shots at Donald Trump while suspending campaign

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry deviated from his stump speech yesterday when addressing the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, telling the audience that while God’s will “remains a mystery,” some things “have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.” He didn’t need to spell out what has been clear for more than a month: Perry lacked the resources to pay for a full campaign staff and ranked too low in the polls to get on the main Republican debate stage.

I would never have guessed that a longtime Texas governor would have trouble raising enough money to be competitive through the early presidential caucuses and primaries.

You can read the full text of Perry’s speech on his campaign website. I enclose below what struck me as the most important passages. Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name, Perry warned against nominating a candidate who sounds just like the current GOP front-runner.

If Perry’s former Iowa campaign chair Sam Clovis had stuck it out, he would now be free to sign on with another candidate without looking like an opportunistic hypocrite. I am in rare agreement with The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson: “loyalty shouldn’t be so rare in politics,” so “only sign on with a campaign if you are really committed to your candidate’s cause.”  

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Trump, Carson way ahead of second tier in Quinnipiac's latest Iowa poll

Outsiders reign supreme in Quinnipiac’s latest poll of “likely Republican Caucus participants” in Iowa. Click here for the polling memo and full results. After the jump I’ve posted a couple of tables from the release.

Donald Trump is the first choice of 27 percent of participants, with Ben Carson not far behind at 21 percent. Carson leads among self-identified “born-again evangelicals” in the respondent pool. Among all respondents, Ted Cruz places a distant third at 9 percent, followed by Jeb Bush (6 percent), Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio (5 percent each), Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and don’t know/not answer (4 percent each).

Just a couple of months ago, Scott Walker led Quinnipiac’s Iowa poll with 18 percent support. The latest survey puts him in tenth place with 3 percent.

Adding today’s data to findings from other recent surveys, I believe we can answer the question Bleeding Heartland posed about the Wisconsin governor in March. Despite getting a decent head start here, Walker is looking like the second coming of Tim Pawlenty.

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

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A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll to give the GOP establishment nightmares

Selzer & Co’s new survey of Iowa Republicans for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News gives GOP strategists plenty to worry about.

The top three “outsider” candidates (Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz) are the first choice for 49 percent of respondents. The top three “establishment” candidates (Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio) are the first choice for only 20 percent.

The survey also indicates that several candidates considered heavyweight contenders are yesterday’s news for likely GOP caucus-goers. The 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee is sitting at 4 percent, tied with Rand Paul, who had been expected to inherit much of his father’s support from the last election campaign. The 2012 winner Rick Santorum is at 1 percent.

The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs wrote up the key findings here, with input from Jason Noble. My first thoughts about the numbers are after the jump.

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