The Gubernatorial Candidates Speak at Leadership for Iowa

I was going to render the video I took of the gubernatorial candidates’ speeches at the “Leadership for Iowa” event on Saturday and put it up.  C-Span did it for me so I’ll be lazy.  You can watch all of the Gubernatorial candidate speeches below, my comments will come by order of appearance.  If you want to watch Tim Pawlenty’s speech you can go here.


Senator Jerry Behn (R-Boone)

He had the unfortunate distinction of immediate following Governor Pawlenty.  He stressed that we need to stick to our principles and we can win.  He said that it is time to “clean house after 12 years of Democratic appointments.”  He brought up the poignant example of Marshalltown losing a potential business which would have brought $1.8 billion in revenue and an unelected board pulled the plug.

He said, “we need appointments of people who care about Iowans, not an agenda.”  He stressed that we need to incorporate competition for education.

Money quote from speech for me – “The reigns of the judiciary is the removal of those judges (referring to the Iowa Supreme Court) when they are up for retention.”  That we need to “free them up to be legislators if they want.”

Former Governor Terry Branstad

He said that “I’m here because I care about Iowa.  I love the Republican Party and my fervor has not waned.”  He touted fiscal responsibility, good education, and job creation.  He said that people asking him to run were saying, “Iowa is broke and they trust me to fix it.”

Money quote of his speech would be “too much debt is bad and those who create it should be thrown out of office.”

He highlighted his 16-years of office as having a record that was pro-family, pro-life, pro-business, pro-growth and pro-Iowa.  He then said a couple of things that were a complete 180 from what he told those of us who met with him almost a couple of weeks ago:

“I support giving Iowans the right to vote on marriage and I will work to get rid of the roadblocks that prevent it.” and “I am a proud conservative.”  He said those things privately in the meeting I was in, but explicitly stated it wasn’t “going to wear his conservatism on his sleeve” or campaign publically on the marriage issue.

He then made a pledge to follow Reagan’s 11th commandment while campaigning (not to criticize fellow Republicans), and said “I will wholeheartedly support whoever is the nominee.”  That seemed a bit strange.

Bob Vander Plaats

He officially welcomed Governor Branstad to the race.  He asked (not exact quote) will we go with the road of moderation or will we travel the road of conservative values?  He spent time lauding Ronald Reagan.

He promised on Day 1 to issue an executive order that places a stay on the April 3rd Iowa Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage.  He said he’d open the state up for business, and would limit government growth.

His money quote (for me being a parent who home educates): “It is the parent’s right and parent’s responsibility to raise and educate their children, not the government.”

Amen to that.  He also mentions that he wants to go after Culver’s voters – labor, teachers, African-Americans and then mentioned the endorsement he received by the Iowa head of the NAACP.

Representative Rod Roberts (R-Carroll)

He said alluding to the other five candidates that “any of us would be a far better governor than Governor Chet Culver.  Very true, I’ve said before that Gumby would be more competent than Debt Culver.

He highlighted a desire to bring fiscal discipline and lower taxes.  He would like to get rid of the business income tax in order to grow jobs.  He also highlights the retention ballot for three of the Supreme Court justices in November 2010.

Money quote referring to marriage: “It is the place of the people to tell the Government, not the government to tell the people.”

He claims to be the eternal optimist and so we have a Roberts prediction that Terrace Hill, the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate will go back into GOP hands.  I hope he’s right, but I’m not holding my breath – especially with the Senate.

He also brought up infrastructure, that focusing on our infrastructure will help with job creation.  Why aren’t Hwy. 20 and Hwy. 30 completed (becoming four lane).  Good question, why aren’t they?  Perhaps that could have been a project for I-Jobs if the money wasn’t distributed in such a stupid manner.

Christian Fong

He started talking about his background with being the son of a Chinese immigrant, and his educational background.  He is incredibly bright having graduated from Creighton University at 19, and then going to get an MBA from Dartmouth.  He points out that his father was an immigrant, but that he was a legal immigrant.  Says Iowa can’t be a a sanctuary state for illegal immigration.  The only candidate to mention that issue.

Money quote: “China didn’t come in talking about nationalization of the economy or talking about forced abortions; they came in talking about ‘hope and change’.”

He brings up that he is the only candidate who was born after Roe v. Wade, so the abortion issue is a very personal one for him.  He noted that “one-third of my generation is missing.”  He said that he would “defend life from natural conception to death.”

He also supports traditional marriage and would support a constitutional amendment.  He pledges to cut spending 5% in his first year and veto any spending not in compliance of the 99% spending limitation.  He also wants to eliminate personal income tax.  He says he represents our future, and we should “make our future now.”

Chris Rants

“Patti giveth, but Chet taketh away.”  He provided some anecdotal evidence of Lt. Governor Patti Judge traveling to Sergeant Bluff for a grant award ceremony, but then through Governor Culver’s budget mismanagement having to cut money that directly affected the school district.  In all being a net loss.

He pointed out every candidate has their niche, and he wants to stress lowering property taxes as that impacts jobs.  He also noted that there were more people at the Tea Party than were at the “Leadership for Iowa” event.  He said that those were people that the GOP has lost.

Money quote (referring to Tea Party people): “They are looking for leadership.  We haven’t been walking the walk.”

He said we haven’t been walking the walk with the marriage issue when the process leading toward that started much earlier.  We hadn’t been walking the walk with education.  He also when it comes to spending, no one has been provided specific ideas.  He wanted his campaign to provide tangible specific ideas whether he becomes governor or whomever takes up residence at Terrace Hill as the “Governor can’t do it by himself.”

Some of those spending ideas – eliminate pre-school, “the state shouldn’t be taking it away from churches and non-profits.”  Don’t spend money on new state vehicles.  Cut the Department of Human Rights “so we can keep troopers on the road.”  He also asked everybody to pray for the candidates as they travel and to handle the day-to-day stress of the campaign trail.

Final Thoughts:

Helped the most:

  • I think Bob Vander Plaats did what was expected, and said the things his base expects.
  • Christian Fong gave a very compelling speech that will certainly endear him to those who are pro-life.
  • Chris Rants gives specific ideas which I think people can buy into.  Some of them may drive the left batty, but I think he should wear that as a badge of honor.
  • Rod Roberts connects well when he speaks.  He is extremely likeable.  While he probably didn’t give the best speech of the evening, this was definitely a positive for him.

Who was hurt:

  • Terry Branstad stumbled.  He didn’t seem well-prepared.  You can tell he hasn’t campaigned since the 1990s.  It showed.  If “he hadn’t lost his fervor” you couldn’t tell by his speech.  His campaign is off to a very rocky start.

I also encourage you to check out commentary from fellow blogger’s row neighbors – Al Bregar, Art Smith, Grant Young and Craig Robinson.  Don’t take our word for it though, be sure to watch the speeches yourself.

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Comments

  1. Scott says

    Nice summary Shane. Visited all of the websites – I have to say that Christian Fong and Chris Rants kind of jumped out for me.