# Paul Ryan

We should not respond in kind

Jerry Foxhoven: Democrats who now control the federal government should try to work with Republicans. But they must be prepared to move on without them. -promoted by Laura Belin

The aftermath of our most recent election is a sad case of divisive politics on steroids, coupled with revenge and retribution by our outgoing president and his allies. It has shown the darkest side of the Republican Party as shaped by Donald Trump: a willingness to put our entire democratic republic at risk just to throw a temper tantrum over an election loss.

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David Young beats too-clever-by-half Zach Nunn to IA-03 starting gate

Former U.S. Representative David Young became the first declared Republican candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district on May 6, telling the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel he looks forward to campaigning against the Democrat who defeated him last November.

“I spent a lot of time with folks around the 3rd District, listening to their priorities and listening to their voices, and they are not being heard right now in the U.S. Congress,” Young said in an interview. “The policies that Cindy Axne is putting forward with Nancy Pelosi is not what Iowans are talking about or wanting.”

Young gave the exclusive to the Register about nine hours after State Senator Zach Nunn announced a “listening tour” of the district’s sixteen counties while he pretends to be merely considering a bid for the U.S. House.

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Eddie Mauro makes seven Democrats running for Congress in IA-03

Eddie Mauro made it official today: he is a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s third district. I enclose below his announcement e-mail and biographical information from his campaign website. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter. He discussed his background and political philosophy further in a 2016 interview with Bleeding Heartland, when he was running for an Iowa House seat.

Mauro’s determination to join the Congressional race has been clear for months. Since forming an exploratory committee in July, he has met with or spoken to numerous neighborhood and constituency groups. He loaned his campaign $100,000 shortly before the end of the third quarter and raised $82,251.00 from several dozen other contributors.

In fact, as of September 30, Mauro was second only to Theresa Greenfield in money available to spend on the Democratic primary in IA-03. Mauro’s $161,899.06 cash on hand was some $14,000 higher than Greenfield’s, but seven of his donors maxed out with $2,700 contributions for both the primary and general elections. For that reason, $18,900 of his campaign funds can’t be spent until after the June 2018 primary.

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IA-01: If Rod Blum wasn't worried before, he should be now

Reviewing the Democratic “tidal wave” in Virginia on Tuesday, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report commented, “You can’t really look at tonight’s results and conclude that Democrats are anything other than the current favorites to pick up the U.S. House in 2018.” A backlash against President Donald Trump and Congressional Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled strong Democratic turnout, sinking far more Virginia GOP state legislators than expected.

That’s not the only reason Representative Rod Blum should be feeling more nervous about winning a third term in Iowa’s first Congressional district.

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Seven years of false promises finally caught up with Republicans

Among the U.S. political developments I never would have predicted: the Republican-controlled Congress was unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act under a president ready to sign the bill into law. After canceling a planned floor vote today on the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged, “Obamacare is the law of the land. … We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

In the depths of my despair after the November election, I felt sure that the Affordable Care Act would be history by now, and Congress would be well on the way to privatizing Medicare.

Among the many reasons Republicans failed to draft a coherent health care alternative and could not coalesce around the half-baked American Health Care Act, the most important is this:

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Steve King defends scrapping Ethics Office; Blum and Young say they oppose

The main order of business in the U.S. House on January 3 was electing the speaker on the first day of the new session. House members returned Paul Ryan to that position with only one dissenting vote from the GOP caucus, in contrast to January 2015, when Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and Steve King (IA-04) were among 25 Republicans not supporting Speaker John Boehner’s re-election.

The big news on Tuesday, however, was House Republicans backpedaling on their vote the previous night to gut the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

While staff for dozens of House members hid behind “we don’t know” or “we’ll get back to you” in response to constituent calls, King became one of the few “loud and proud” supporters of the amendment. In fact, he will seek to abolish the office rather than merely neutering it.

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The Big Fight Democrats Can't Afford to Lose

Thanks to susaniniowa for stating it so clearly: “This is the first moment of the election of 2018. If we blow it, we can expect to lose.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

I have been reading a lot of social media comments from Bernie Sanders supporters who think he “sold out” because he said Clinton would remain an important voice in the party. I think they are profoundly wrong about Bernie, and about how to respond to what we face now. We cannot confront the coming threats to the well-being of our fellow citizens and the planet itself if we allow ourselves to be divided. Our first and biggest fight may come as soon as January. We cannot afford to lose it.

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Paul Ryan says he won't accept GOP nomination. Is he for real?

image from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s video, “Politics These Days”

A few minutes ago, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters, “Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination.” According to Amber Phillips of the Washington Post, today’s announcement was the nineteenth time Ryan or someone speaking on his behalf has ruled out running for president in 2016. Yet many Republicans hope that neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz will win the 1,237 votes needed to secure the presidential nomination at the GOP national convention in Cleveland, allowing delegates to turn to Ryan as a unifying figure on the third or fourth ballot. That scenario may be the least-bad among a number of unappealing possibilities facing Republicans, as the party’s front-runner has historically high unfavorable ratings.

Ryan said today that delegates should “Count me out” if there is a brokered convention: “I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee for our party – to be the president – you should actually run for it. I chose not to do this. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. End of story.”

Meanwhile, the House speaker is running a “parallel policy campaign,” which he calls #ConfidentAmerica. This campaign could be designed to insulate GOP House candidates from a landslide loss at the top of the ticket. But to me and many other observers, the #ConfidentAmerica materials resemble presidential candidate tv ads. I’ve enclosed one video after the jump, so you can judge for yourself.

Any speculation about what might happen in a GOP brokered convention is welcome in this thread. Whether Trump can lock down the nomination on June 7 depends on several factors Bleeding Heartland user fladem discussed here, and on whether Cruz continues to outperform late polling in the remaining primaries.

Governor Terry Branstad has so far refused to say how he would vote on a second or subsequent ballot, if he becomes a delegate to the RNC. Senator Joni Ernst has suggested that “it would be hard to get buy-in” for nominating someone who did not run for president this year.

UPDATE: NPR’s Susan Davis observed, “Paul Ryan raised $17.2m in Q1. He’s raised $23.5m since becoming speaker in Oct. This probably means he’s running for president.” Yes, it probably does.

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IA-04, IA-Gov?: Bill Northey endorses Steve King for Congress

The Republican National Convention delegate elections grabbed most of the attention from today’s Iowa GOP district conventions, but Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made some news at the fourth district gathering in Fort Dodge. Kathie Obradovich reported for the Des Moines Register,

“When I think of somebody I want in the room talking with conservative congressmen and senators, a potential president, on ethanol issues, I want Steve King,” [Northey] said.

King, in turn, suggested a promotion for Northey — but not to governor, a job for which he is often mentioned as a potential candidate. He noted there will be a new U.S. Agriculture secretary next year. “We’ll no longer have Secretary (Tom) Vilsack. I think maybe Secretary Northey sounds pretty good to me.”

King touted the quadrupling of ag land values during the first 12 years he was in Congress. “We should not forget, those are the best 12 years that agriculture has ever had in the history of this state during that period of time,” he said.

You don’t have to be an economist to know the rise in Iowa farmland values since 2003 has very little connection to who represented our state in Congress. But let’s leave that aside for now. Northey and King have long had a friendly political relationship. The ag secretary cut a radio ad King aired near the end of his toughest re-election campaign, the 2012 race against Christie Vilsack in a substantially redrawn district. Click through to read the transcript of that commercial, in which Northey touted King’s record on agriculture issues and support from farm groups. I would not be surprised to see a similar testimonial hit the airwaves before King’s June 7 primary against State Senator Rick Bertrand. People linked to the ethanol industry are among Bertrand’s heavy-hitter supporters, largely because King endorsed Senator Ted Cruz for president, despite Cruz’s stand on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Speaking of the presidential race, King discussed possible brokered convention scenarios on this weekend’s edition of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. He predicted that “neither Trump nor Cruz delegates are going to tolerate anyone coming in from the outside that hasn’t been a candidate,” such as U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. The full video and transcript are here; I’ve enclosed relevant excerpts below.

Northey is widely considered likely to run for governor in 2018 rather than for a fourth term as secretary of agriculture. King’s support could be helpful in a primary that will almost certainly include at least two other candidates: Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. Neither has a strong base in rural Iowa, although Corbett has tried to bolster his credentials with the farm community by touting all-voluntary efforts to reduce agricultural runoff and bashing some efforts to regulate farm-based pollution.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Paul Ryan elected House speaker: How the Iowans voted

Yesterday House Republicans elected 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as House speaker to replace the retiring John Boehner. Ryan received 236 votes to 184 for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and nine for Daniel Webster, the candidate endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus and some other conservatives. For some time after the implosion of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s aspirations to be speaker, Ryan had insisted he would prefer to remain Ways and Means Committee chair, but last week he succumbed to an intense recruiting effortby senior Republicans.

Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted for Ryan yesterday on the House floor. Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for Pelosi. I enclose below comments from Blum and King after the speaker election. Both had voted for Webster rather than to re-elect Boehner in January. Since Boehner announced his retirement last month, King has been one of the loudest advocates for Webster as speaker. Blum belongs to the House Freedom Caucus, so I suspect he was among the 43 Republicans who voted for Webster in a closed caucus meeting on October 28. However, neither Blum nor his staff responded to my request for comment on whether he supported Webster or Ryan, who received 200 votes in that closed meeting.

I did not see any public comment from Young in recent weeks on whom he would support for speaker. I assume he backed Ryan in closed session as well as on the House floor, but his staff did not disclose that information when I sought comment.

Webster said on October 28 that

his campaign for speaker had been a game-changer, one that had all but forced Ryan and others to promise an overhaul of the culture of the GOP Conference.

“I think we have changed the debate, changed the discussion away from a power-based system, away from a top-down approach, to one that works,” Webster said. “And if we can do that, we’ll be successful. If we don’t, we won’t be.”

King’s case for Webster slammed the “abuse of power plays by leadership” under Boehner and the “schism created by leadership’s persistent and relentless punishment of principled Members who vote their conscience.” Ryan promised yesterday to unify the GOP caucus, suggesting he will not seek revenge on those who opposed him as speaker, like Boehner did earlier this year.

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Steve King still pushing Daniel Webster for House speaker, not sold on Paul Ryan

Representative Steve King (IA-04) is still urging fellow Republicans to elect Representative Daniel Webster of Florida as speaker, even as House Ways & Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has gained momentum as a consensus choice to lead the chamber. King voted for Webster in the January election for House speaker and affirmed that he favored Webster when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was favored to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

After repeatedly saying he was not interested in the job, Ryan announced on Tuesday he would run for speaker if certain conditions were met. King advocated for Webster in a guest piece in yesterday’s Conservative Review. I’ve posted excerpts after the jump. Although King didn’t mention Ryan by name, he alluded to him when asserting, “We cannot have a reluctant Speaker. Webster is confident and sees the Speaker’s job as an opportunity to serve with purpose and principle.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball” program yesterday, King suggested it would be a “bridge too far” to change House rules so members could not pass a motion to remove the chair, as Ryan has demanded. He predicted that condition would be a big problem for many Democrats as well as for some Republicans. King also noted that while Ryan had promised not to bring any major immigration reform bill to the House floor while President Barack Obama is still in office, he is still concerned that a bill including a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants could come up in the next Congress. King and his allies successfully pressured Boehner not to bring the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan immigration reform up for a vote in 2013 or 2014.

King leads the House Republican group called the Conservative Opportunity Society. Another right-wing faction called the House Freedom Caucus includes first-term Republican Rod Blum (IA-01). I haven’t seen any recent public comment from Blum on his preference for speaker. Like King, he voted for Webster rather than for Boehner in January. The majority of House Freedom Caucus members voted last night to support Paul Ryan for speaker. According to Drew Desilver’s close look at the House Freedom Caucus for the Pew Research Center’s “Fact Tank,” its members are more conservative and have less seniority than the average House Republican.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Just when I was starting to think Mike Huckabee was smart

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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House passes first 2016 spending bills: How the Iowans voted

Catching up on Congressional news, last week the U.S. House approved a joint Republican framework setting top-line numbers for the federal budget as well as the first two spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Along the way, House members considered amendments covering a wide range of issues, from regulations on incandescent light bulbs to “prevailing wage” rules for federal construction projects to medical marijuana advice for Americans who receive their health care through the Veterans Administration.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest votes by Iowa Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

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Iowa caucus discussion thread: Romney delusions edition

It’s been a while since we had a new thread for discussing the next Iowa caucus campaign. Most of the action lately has been on the Republican side, but any comments about the presidential race are welcome in this thread. Here are some links to get the conversation started.

Mitt Romney confirmed last week that he may launch a third campaign for the presidency, even though he had previously ruled out another bid on many occasions. He leads some early polls of Republicans, but with 20 percent support or less–not impressive for someone with his level of name recognition. I can’t imagine why Republicans would ever nominate him again, or how anyone in his inner circle can believe he has a chance. Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann shed some light on that subject in “The selling of Mitt 3.0,” which you should read in full. After the jump I’ve enclosed a few excerpts from that piece and from John Dickerson’s report for Slate. Apparently some people believe that with better messaging and no incumbent president to face, Romney has a decent shot. Sounds delusional to me. Romney still has all the baggage from his last campaign. His dire predictions about the economy have proven false. Surely many of his donors and grassroots supporters will be looking for a new candidate, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush or even former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Maybe The Onion was right after all in this 2012 report: “Mitt Romney Terrified What Will Happen If He Ever Stops Running for President.”

Also on the establishment wing of the GOP, Jeb Bush has stepped down from various corporate and non-profit boards and started raising money for his new leadership PAC. Bush will have a well-funded campaign and is more electable than many of the other potential candidates, but I don’t see him as a strong contender for the Iowa caucuses. The four issues Eric Pianin identified here (Common Core, immigration, taxes, and Obamacare) will all be deal-breakers for the conservative activists who tend to show up on caucus night.  

Seeking to cash in early on anti-Jeb sentiment, some conservatives have formed a PAC and created an “EndJeb2016” website. Sounds like a fundraising and list-building scheme to me (a la Ready for Hillary), as opposed to an effort to run a real campaign against Bush in the GOP primaries.

Romney’s 2012 running mate Paul Ryan, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said this week that he will not seek the presidency in 2016. He would be a fool to try when the field is already crowded, and he can afford to wait another four or eight years.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee quit hosting his weekly show on Fox News, saying he can’t rule out another presidential bid and will make a final decision this spring. Huckabee has a huge grassroots following in Iowa, and his entry to the race would greatly complicate matters for the likes of former Senator Rick Santorum or Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Santorum is promising to run “a very, very different candidacy than the last time around,” but for quite some time, many of his Iowa supporters have been looking at fresher faces like Ted Cruz or Ben Carson. Craig Robinson described Huckabee as the “first love” of Iowa social conservatives. Jamie Johnson, who worked on Santorum’s 2012 campaign here, told David Weigel last week,

“I can tell you, I took Rick Santorum across the state three years ago,” Johnson says. “People loved Huckabee. They liked Santorum. There was never a heart connection between them and Santorum the way there’d been for Huckabee.”

Jindal was just in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids to meet privately with pastors. I can’t see him putting together a winning campaign in Iowa or anywhere else. Why should people support him when he’s not even popular in his (conservative) home state?

Ben Carson was caught plagiarizing part of his book America the Beautiful. He is working to “rectify the situation.” My guess is that few Iowa Republicans will care about this ethical lapse.

My pick to win the Iowa caucuses, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has selected a likely campaign manager and will soon launch some kind of PAC.  GOP activists here will appreciate that Walker took on public sector unions, refused to expand Medicaid, and doesn’t support comprehensive immigration reform. But they won’t react well if they learn that he put the brakes on efforts to pass a “right to work” law.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Senator Rand Paul hired a presidential campaign manager this week. I still think he will bail out of the race in time to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Kentucky law doesn’t allow him to be on the ballot for two offices in the same primary election.

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DMR Iowa caucus poll: Same old story for Democrats but a few GOP surprises

It’s been a few weeks since we had a thread on the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Today’s Des Moines Register featured results from the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co for the Register and Bloomberg News. Selzer surveyed 425 registered voters “who say they definitely or probably will attend” the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses, and 426 registered voters who plan to attend the Democratic caucuses.

On the Democratic side, it’s the same old story: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads the field with 53 percent of respondents naming her as a first choice. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren drew 10 percent support, Vice President Joe Biden 9 percent, Secretary of State and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry got 7 percent, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders 3 percent, and several others 1 percent or less (the last group included Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who has visited Iowa several times in the last couple of years). Hillary Clinton also registered the highest favorability rating among Democratic respondents (76 percent), shattering the myth that she has a serious “Iowa problem,” at least where the caucuses are concerned.

The Register’s headline screamed, “2016 EARLY TAKE: CLINTON, ROMNEY,” but from where I’m sitting, this poll would not entice the 2012 presidential nominee to try again. Mitt Romney was the first choice of 17 percent of Republican respondents and the second choice of 8 percent. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the man who has much higher name recognition than most of the other candidates.

The Selzer poll showed no clear favorites among potential GOP presidential candidates. Ben Carson may be the new “flavor of the month” with 11 percent picking him as a first choice, second to Romney. Perhaps Iowa Republicans are looking for a fresh face after two cycles in a row of nominating men who had run for president before. Nine candidates pulled between 3 percent and 10 percent as a first choice in the Selzer poll, suggesting that the race will be wide open next year. (I’ve posted the full list after the jump.) The findings will be discouraging to former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. Despite winning the 2012 caucuses by a handful of votes, he is now the first choice of only 3 percent of respondents, and the second choice of only 5 percent. Marco Rubio’s immigration reform misadventure may have ruined his image among Iowa Republicans, because he is way down the list in this poll.

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

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IA-03 news roundup: NRCC more interested, Appel releases first ad against Young

As expected, Iowa’s third Congressional district campaign between former State Senator Staci Appel and Senator Chuck Grassley’s former chief of staff David Young is shaping up to be the most competitive and most expensive of Iowa’s four U.S. House races. Within days of Young’s surprise victory at a GOP special nominating convention, the Appel campaign released its first paid advertisement highlighting Young’s long career as a Congressional staffer and support for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Young to its list of “contenders” and is now paying for robocalls attacking Appel.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest IA-03 campaign developments.

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Weekend open thread: Church and state edition

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

The non-profit advocacy group Secularity USA brought world-famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to Des Moines on Saturday. I couldn’t make it to the event; if you were there, please share your impressions. The mission of Secularity USA is to raise public awareness “of the dangers of religious bias in government and promoting the traditional separation of church and state.” While Dawkins is a well-known atheist, Secularity USA seeks to unite “religious and nonreligious supporters of church-state separation.”

Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation this week inviting “all Iowans who choose to join in thoughtful prayer and humble repentance according to II Chronicles 7:14 in favor of our state and nation to come together on July 14, 2014.” I wouldn’t go so far as one blogger, who declared that Branstad “signed away separation of church and state,” but it does seem inappropriate for the governor to lend his support to such a specific religious movement. The “Prayer 7-14-14” group, which is calling for the national day of prayer, sounds pretty far out there. Endorsing this project is different from routine appearances by governors at prayer breakfasts, or the prayers that typically open daily sessions in the Iowa House and Senate.

I wonder whether the governor’s staff sensed that he crossed a line, because I didn’t see any announcement of this event on the governor’s official news feed. Normally that feed highlights several proclamation signings each week. It mentioned more than half a dozen other documents Branstad signed this past week–including, ironically, a proclamation for Muslim Recognition Day. Perhaps Branstad viewed inviting Iowans to pray on July 14 as nothing more than empty pandering to the FAMiLY Leader contingent, which is promoting the national prayer day. The governor hasn’t elevated social conservative goals in most of his public speeches or in his legislative agenda.

Former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan headlined an Iowa GOP fundraiser in Cedar Rapids last night. O.Kay Henderson posted the audio at Radio Iowa. As usual for Ryan, he said little about social conservative priorities, focusing instead on federal budget and tax issues, Obamacare, and the need for Republican unity. But he did nod to his religious heritage by urging his audience to give up “infighting,” “tunnel vision,” and “acrimony” for Lent.

Last month I never managed to post a thread on one of this year’s biggest news stories related to church-state separation: the U.S. Supreme Court considering what has become known as the Hobby Lobby case. After the jump I’ve posted six links on the oral arguments in that case, which will determine whether two corporations are entitled to a religious exemption from the 2010 health care reform law’s contraception mandate.  

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IA-Sen, IA-Gov, Iowa caucus: Highlights from the new Suffolk poll

The Suffolk University Political Research Center asked 800 Iowa “likely voters” about this year’s biggest races. The margin of error for the survey, conducted between April 3 and April 8, is plus or minus 3.5 percent. Suffolk’s press release summarizing the highlights is here. Full results are here (pdf). Tables are here (pdf).

Representative Bruce Braley leads all Republican rivals for U.S. Senate in the first Iowa poll conducted after Braley’s comments about Senator Chuck Grassley gained wide attention. Braley is still better-known than the GOP candidates, and more Iowans have a favorable than unfavorable impression of him. The bad news for Braley is that he is below 40 percent against each of the Republican candidates.

Suffolk’s poll indicates that the GOP IA-Sen primary is now a two-tier race, with State Senator Joni Ernst and Mark Jacobs each commanding more than 20 percent support, and the other candidates in the single digits. That makes sense, since Ernst and Jacobs have the most establishment support and are the only Senate candidates who have been able to raise their name recognition through paid advertising. But 40 percent of respondents were undecided.

Governor Terry Branstad’s still in positive territory, with 48.5 percent of respondents viewing him favorably and about 35.4 percent unfavorably. His lead over Democratic State Senator Jack Hatch is smaller in this poll than in any other Iowa survey I’ve seen, though: 42.4 percent to 32.1 percent.

Among respondents who said they are likely to participate in the 2016 Democratic caucuses, 63 percent favor Hillary Clinton. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was far behind with 12 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden with 10 percent. It’s hard to say who is really in second place, since the margin of error for the Democratic caucus-goer subsample is quite large (plus or minus 8.4 percent). Nevertheless, Clinton clearly maintains a commanding lead.

I wouldn’t read much into the Iowa GOP caucus results from this survey. All the potential presidential candidates (Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and Condoleezza Rice) are clumped close together, between 6 and 11 percent support. That’s within the the margin of error of plus or minus 8.7 percent for that subset of the Suffolk poll.

Weekend open thread: New Register poll edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The hour I lost with “spring forward” was the hour I needed to get the open thread up at the usual time. But better late than never. All topics are welcome.

For the past week, the Des Moines Register has been releasing results from its latest statewide poll. Selzer & Co surveyed 703 Iowa adults between February 23 and 26, producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. This morning’s newspaper revealed that President Barack Obama’s approval rating has hit a new low in the state he carried in the last two presidential elections. Just 36 percent of respondents said they approve of Obama’s job performance, while 59 percent disapprove. Those findings will embolden Republican candidates who plan to make this November’s elections a referendum on the president’s policies.

Looking ahead to the 2016 caucuses, 50 percent of Iowans, including 88 percent of the Democrats in the Register’s poll sample, think it would be good for Hillary Clinton to run for president again. Support for Vice President Joe Biden was much lower, with 33 percent of the full sample and 58 percent of the Democrats saying it would be good for Biden to run for president again. Like I’ve said before, there is no evidence Hillary Clinton has any lasting problem with Iowa Democrats.

U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s reputation with Iowa Republicans doesn’t appear to have suffered from being on the losing ticket with Mitt Romney in 2012. Selzer’s poll for the Register found that 67 percent of Republican respondents think it’s a good idea for Ryan to run for president. The full sample was split, with 41 percent supporting a Ryan presidential bid and 42 percent saying it would be a bad idea. In the Republican sub-sample, 65 percent said it would be good for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to run for president again, 50 percent said the same about Texas Governor Rick Perry, and 48 percent said the same about former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

My impression last year was that other potential candidates, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, are telling Iowa Republicans what they want to hear, while Santorum’s message is not striking the same chord. If Ryan runs for president, he will surely come under attack for recent deals with Democrats on the federal budget.  

New 2016 Iowa Republican caucus discussion thread

It’s been a while since we had a thread about the 2016 presidential campaign on the Republican side. Spin your own scenarios in the comments.

Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of Iowa Republicans shows a jumble, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee slightly ahead, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas notably trending up and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida trending down, along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Highlights are after the jump, or click here for full results and cross-tabs. I’m not surprised to see Cruz’s favorability improve, as he wowed Republican crowds during two Iowa visits last year.

PPP’s robocall format only allows a maximum of nine candidates to be listed. I find it strange that the pollster included Huckabee and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, neither of whom seem likely to run for president in 2016. It’s all the more odd since the poll did not give respondents a chance to choose former Senator Rick Santorum, the narrow winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses, as a presidential candidate.

PPP’s poll also did not offer respondents a chance to choose Texas Governor Rick Perry, who came to Iowa this week. He appeared on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, attended a “business roundtable” in Davenport organized by the Koch Brothers group Americans for Prosperity, and spoke to GOP activists in Polk County at a private fundraiser and a small “rally” at Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign headquarters. I’ve posted excerpts from Perry’s “Iowa Press” comments below. I was particularly interested in his take on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoing a bill that would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. Perry provided a textbook example of how to pivot away from the question you don’t want to answer the question you wanted.

Another ambitious Republican excluded from PPP’s Iowa poll is former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who recently agreed to headline the April 3 GOP dinner in tiny Ringgold County. Brown visited the Iowa State Fair last summer and spoke at a Scott County GOP event in November.  

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Weekend open thread: Storylines

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? I saw Peter Jackson’s new Hobbit film, and it’s a good movie if you don’t mind the director taking major liberties with the plot of the novel. If you’re a dedicated fan of Tolkien’s story, you will probably agree with Christopher Orr, who called it “bad fan fiction.” What I appreciate about Jackson is that unlike George Lucas (massively overrated as a director in my opinion), he didn’t try to make his film too much of a kids’ movie. There were plenty of children in the theater audience, but The Hobbit doesn’t include as many stupid characters or cheap laughs as the Star Wars movies.

Today’s edition of the Sunday Des Moines Register contains some findings from the latest Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co. The margins of error are large due to small sample sizes of Iowa Democrats and Republicans, but the headline news is that Hillary Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are 50 percent/45 percent with all Iowa respondents and 89 percent/7 percent with Democrats surveyed by Selzer between December 8 and 11. In other words, this poll does not support the narrative I’ve argued against repeatedly, which holds that Clinton “needs” to do more retail campaigning here to compensate for her allegedly poor Iowa caucuses showing and failure to connect with Iowans. In my view, Clinton didn’t do as badly here in 2008 as some people believe, nor is she as unpopular among rank and file Iowa Democrats as some bloggers imagine. She will not have any substantial Democratic competition here or anywhere else if she runs for president again.

Speaking of unfounded beliefs, backers of proposed casinos in Cedar Rapids and Jefferson (Greene County) talk a good game about the economic development their projects will bring. Economists Ernie Goss of Creighton University and Dave Swenson of Iowa State University threw cold water on those claims during this weekend’s edition of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. Excerpts are after the jump, including Goss’ memorable comparison of some casinos to a “neutron bomb” that “destroys” surrounding local businesses such as restaurants.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.  

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Conservative poll shows Christie, Cruz, Paul leading Iowa caucus race

A Harper Polling/Conservative intel survey of 390 “likely Republican caucus-goers” on November 23 and 24 indicates that 17 percent of respondents would support New Jersey Governor Chris Christie if the Iowa caucuses were held today. Another 17 percent were “not sure,” followed by 16 percent for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, 13 percent for U.S. Senator Rand Paul, 11 percent for former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, 9 percent for U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, 7 percent for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, 6 percent for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, and 3 percent for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

I am skeptical about any poll that identifies “likely caucus-goers” more than two years before the caucuses, and I doubt Christie has any chance of winning here. Then again, he could win a plurality if he’s the only perceived “moderate” in a crowded field of conservatives. I expect Iowa Republicans to gravitate away from sitting members of Congress and toward governors, but I think Walker will have more appeal here than Christie.

When Harper Polling/Conservative Intel tested Hillary Clinton against each of the Republicans among the full poll sample of 985 “likely voters,” she led everyone but Christie, who led her by 43 percent to 38 percent. Keep in mind that the party breakdown in this poll sample closely matched the 2010 turnout in Iowa. Presidential-year turnout is higher among all partisan groups, but especially among independents. In the 2010 general election, 281,546 no-party voters in Iowa cast ballots. But nearly 500,000 Iowa no-party voters cast ballots for the 2012 presidential election.

Paul Ryan's going to need a better message than that (updated)

Roughly 800 people came to Altoona on Saturday night to celebrate Governor Terry Branstad’s birthday and raise money for his re-election campaign. The featured speaker was House Budget Committee Chair and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Listening to his remarks at Radio Iowa’s website, I didn’t hear a serious contender for the presidency in 2016.

Three big things were missing from Ryan’s speech.

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Ted Cruz Iowa prospects discussion thread

Judging from the reception he got in Des Moines and Le Mars on Friday and Saturday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is still a hot property for conservative Iowa Republicans. I’ve posted links and highlights about Cruz’s latest visit after the jump. Any comments about his impact on Iowa politics or his potential as a presidential candidate are welcome in this thread.

I see Cruz as a showboater who will peak long before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, as people tire of his over-promising. Granted, many Republicans savor the fantasy that everything would go their way if the evil establishment only listened to “constitutional conservatives” like Cruz. Nevertheless, I expect Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will have a winning message during the next caucus campaign. He can claim to have delivered on more conservative dreams than members of Congress like Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, or Representative Paul Ryan. I would love to be wrong and see the GOP nominate Cruz for president, though.

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Possible 2016 presidential candidates comment on budget/debt ceiling deal

Most Americans are relieved the federal government will be fully operational again this week, but the short-term deal on the 2014 budget and debt ceiling isn’t popular on the right wing of the Republican base. I got a kick out of this “Tea Party Insult Generator” based on real comments posted to House Speaker John Boehner’s Facebook page.

Of the members of Congress who may run for president in 2016, only Representative Peter King of New York voted yes on the deal to reopen the government (the House roll call is here, and the Senate roll call is here). King isn’t a real contender for the GOP nomination anyway; he would be running for president to send a message.

House Budget Committee Chairman and former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan voted no last night, as did Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. After the jump I’ve posted statements from all of those politicians about the deal. Their talking points will make a good impression on likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers, even if the events of the last few weeks have hurt the GOP on the generic Congressional ballot.

Any comments about the federal budget, debt ceiling, or next presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.  

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GOP presidential candidate speculation thread

It’s never too early to talk about the next Iowa caucuses. Here are a few news items to get the conversation started: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the last GOP vice presidential nominee and chair of the House Budget Committee, will headline Governor Terry Branstad’s birthday event in Altoona this November.

Representative Peter King of New York, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is thinking about running for president and specifically criticized two other likely candidates: Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. It sounds as if King doesn’t expect to win the nomination, but wants to “get my views out on national defense and foreign policy” and prevent people like Paul from being “the face of the national Republican Party.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is my ridiculously early pick to win the 2016 caucuses, but I think Paul Ryan could do well here too. I don’t see Peter King having strong appeal with Iowa Republicans.

I tend to agree with Josh Marshall that we are seeing “the end of Marco Rubio” as a presidential contender. Immigration reform is probably going nowhere, and Rubio bet a lot on that horse. Conservative talk radio host Steve Deace is wrong about most things, but probably not wrong about Rubio’s “Iowa problem.” The young senator would be better off running for re-election in Florida in 2016 and putting off any presidential ambitions for at least another four or eight years.

The latest Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa Republicans showed no clear front-runner.

PPP poll: if Hillary runs, she wins Iowa

Hillary Clinton utterly dominates the Democratic field in Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of Iowa. About 71 percent of Democratic respondents would support the former first lady and secretary of state she runs for president in 2016 (full results here). Under normal circumstances, I would say it’s too early to poll an Iowa caucus campaign that won’t be in full swing for another two years. But I think this poll is a good indicator that she will have nothing more than token opposition in the Democratic primaries if she runs for president again. It doesn’t matter how much or how little she does “retail politics” in Iowa–she would win the caucuses easily. If Clinton doesn’t run for whatever reason, Vice President Joe Biden would be the early front-runner. If he stays out, it will be a wide-open race.

On the Republican side, PPP found a real jumble. Asked whom respondents would most like to see as the GOP’s next presidential nominee, U.S. Senator Rand Paul led with 18 percent of Iowa Republican respondents, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (16 percent), Representative Paul Ryan (15 percent), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (14 percent), Senator Marco Rubio (11 percent), Senator Ted Cruz (10 percent), “someone else/not sure” (7 percent), former Senator Rick Santorum (6 percent), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (2 percent), and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (1 percent).

I am surprised they didn’t ask about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who’s my absurdly early pick to win the Iowa caucuses. He is much more likely to run for president than some of the other names included in the survey. I am also surprised that so many respondents picked Christie and so few picked Santorum.

It’s way too early for meaningful polling on the 2016 general election, but for now Hillary Clinton leads all potential GOP opponents in Iowa. Any comments about the next presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.

Steve King comments on possible IA-Sen race

Appearing on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program today, Representative Steve King (IA-04) acknowledged that the open U.S. Senate race will be a “slight uphill battle” for any Republican, but asserted that he can see a “path to victory” if he decides to run.

I am still 100 percent convinced that King will opt out of the Senate race eventually, citing personal reasons (not political reality). Nevertheless, his comments on the Senate race are worth reading closely, so I’ve enclosed them below. You can watch the whole interview or read the full transcript here.

King claimed to be unable to think of any positions he has taken that are “out of step with Iowans.” Near the end of this post, I’ve suggested two issues that would become central features in Bruce Braley’s case against King.

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How Harkin and Grassley voted on the Senate budget and amendments

The U.S. Senate approved a budget for fiscal year 2014 at 4:38 am on Saturday after voting on amendments for most of the night. The budget passed by 50 votes to 49 (roll call). Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley and the rest of the Senate Republicans voted no, joined by four Democrats representing red states. The rest of the Democrats, including Senator Tom Harkin, voted for the budget.

As is often the case, Senate votes on various amendments were more interesting than the final party-line vote on the budget. Follow me after the jump for details on how Grassley and Harkin voted on some of those amendments. I’ve also enclosed statements from Grassley and Harkin.

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House approves Paul Ryan's budget: How the Iowans voted

Yesterday the U.S. House approved a fiscal year 2014 budget prepared by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The bill also sets budget levels for fiscal years 2015 through 2023. Bleeding Heartland covered Iowa reaction to the latest Ryan budget here. After the jump I have details on yesterday’s vote and statements released by members of the Iowa delegation.

Despite the spin from some Congressional Republicans and Governor Terry Branstad, it’s important to remember that Ryan’s budget is not balanced and will not be balanced even 10 years from now. Both the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have noted that Ryan does not say how he would offset trillions in lost revenue from income tax cuts he proposes. In addition, the Ryan budget “understates defense spending by $100 billion over the next ten years” and assumes that the 2010 health care reform law will be repealed, which obviously won’t happen. The Ryan plan isn’t about eliminating the federal deficit, it’s a plan to end Medicare as a single-payer program and change the role of the federal government in the lives of low-income Americans.

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Iowa reaction to Paul Ryan's new budget

U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan presented his new federal budget blueprint today. As before, he would end Medicare as a single-payer system for all Americans under age 55, slash spending on programs for the poor such as food stamps and Medicaid, and cut taxes for some, though the details there are fuzzy. He would not cut the defense budget or Social Security. Ryan says his budget would be balanced in 10 years, but he relies on some assumptions that won’t happen, such as repeal of the 2010 health care reform law.

I’ve enclosed Iowa political reaction to the Ryan budget below and will update this post as needed.

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How future presidential candidates voted on the fiscal cliff deal

Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker spoke for many conservative Republicans yesterday when he urged members of Congress to vote against the “ill-advised” deal to avoid tax increases. “The so called “Fiscal Cliff Deal” will only hurt middle class families, continue out of control government spending and fails to address the $16.5 Trillion Federal deficit [sic],” Spiker said in a statement.

Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04, IA-03 in the new Congress) and Steve King (IA-05, IA-04 in the new Congress) voted against this bill. So did likely 2016 presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate. However, in a surprising move to me, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan voted for the deal. I figured Ryan would end up with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and most other House Republicans, who objected to the lack of spending cuts. Ryan later told reporters, “I am not afraid of anything, I think it needed to pass. […] I wanted to stop a big tax increase.”

Any comments on the long-term political implications of yesterday’s votes are welcome in this thread. Rubio has already warned that the deal will hurt small businesses and future economic growth. He is wrong about the impact on small businesses, but economic growth probably will be weak during the next few years, which will vindicate his views in the eyes of conservatives.

UPDATE: A few more House Republicans who voted no may run for president in 2016 or 2020: Mike Pence, just elected governor of Indiana; Tim Scott, just appointed U.S. senator to replace Jim DeMint of South Carolina; Jeff Flake, just elected U.S. senator from Arizona.

New thread on the presidential race in Iowa (updated)

Four new Iowa polls were released during the past 24 hours, and both Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns have scheduled multiple rallies in Iowa this week. Follow me after the jump for clips on those stories and related news.

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

UPDATE: Added another poll below and excerpts from a new Romney campaign memo on Iowa.

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Joe Biden-Paul Ryan debate discussion thread

In a few minutes, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan will debate in Danville, Kentucky. I will update this post later with highlights. Meanwhile, share any comments about the debate or the presidential race generally in this thread.

I’ve been watching the third debate between Leonard Boswell and Tom Latham on Iowa Public Television tonight. You can use this thread for comments about the Congressional candidates’ debates.

UPDATE: Added a few thoughts after the jump.

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Iowa presidential campaign news roundup (updated)

Fewer than 30 days remain until the presidential election. Any comments about the race in Iowa or nationally are welcome in this thread. I’ve compiled recent news, analysis, and advertising after the jump. I will update as needed, especially if any new Iowa poll comes out today. Gallup’s national tracking poll shows Mitt Romney gaining ground since last Wednesday’s presidential debate.

UPDATE: Rasmussen Reports has President Barack Obama leading Romney in Iowa by 49 percent to 47 percent, based on a survey of 500 likely voters conducted on October 7 (margin of error plus or minus 4.5 percent). Rasmussen’s previous Iowa poll had Romney leading 47 percent to 44 percent.

SECOND UPDATE: Added latest national polling data at the end of this post.

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