rick-santorum-lyon-county

(Rock Rapids, IA) The night before the Iowa Caucus in the basement of Frontier Bank in Rock Rapids, Rick Santorum told the group, “Next year I’ll be back in Lyon County.”  Lyon County GOP Chair, Dr. Cody Hoefert, noted they thought it would be under different circumstances.  Nonetheless, Santorum kept his word and returned to this small Northwest Iowa town with a population just over 2500 people in a part of the state where registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats 4 to 1.

The event hosted by the Lyon County Republicans, in partnership with Sioux, O’Brien and Osceola County Republican Parties, was held at the Forster Community Building in Rock Rapids attracted group of 320 (not including media or campaign staff).  This number included Iowa State Representatives Dwayne Alons, Jeff Smith, Megan Hess, Chip Baltimore, Dan Huseman and Jason Schultz.  Also present were State Senators Bill Dix, Randy Feenstra, Bill Anderson, Mark Segebart and David Johnson.  Iowa GOP State Central Committee members Cody Hoefert, Jamie Johnson and Bob Anderson were on hand, as well as, National Committeeman Steve Scheffler, National Committeewoman Tamara Scott, and State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

Also every Republican U.S. Senate candidate was present, but didn’t address the group, but spent time mingling with the crowd: State Senator Joni Ernst, Matt Whitaker, Sam Clovis, Scott Schaben and David Young were present.  Mark Jacobs, who is currently is still exploring a run was also on hand to meet with potential voters.

Opening for Santorum were Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Congressman Steve King, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and former South Dakota Governor and U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Rounds.

Schultz highlighted the need for Iowa to have voter ID, a standard topic for him.  Schultz noted that he was going to say something controversial,  “If you have to show an id to get on an airplane, open a checking account, and buy a beer you should have to show one to vote.  The only ones who think that is controversial is the Democrats in the Iowa Senate.”

Congressman King seemed energetic and relaxed.  In his opening remarks he jokingly told Schultz that he needed to tone down his rhetoric; making light of the criticism he endured due to his recent comments on children of illegal immigrants.  He told Caffeinated Thoughts that while he’s been criticized by members of the GOP establishment and receiving negative press, he hasn’t heard any of it back home.

King gave tribute to Colonel Bud Day who was from Northwest Iowa who recently passed away.  Day fought in World War II, the Koren War and was shot down during the Vietnam War and taken as a prisoner of war.  He stayed in the Hanoi Hilton and was tortured for information.  King said, “Colonel Bud Day would look them in the eye and would sing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of his lungs, now that’s a man.  I have people who occasionally come to me and say, ‘be strong,’ ‘don’t give in,’ ‘don’t compromise,’ ‘stand by your principles,’ ‘stand by the truth.”  And then they’ll say, ‘thank you for your courage.’  I don’t think it’s courage.  I don’t think it’s courage if you believe.  I think what I just described to you (about Bud Day’s captivity) is real courage.”

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds lauded the fiscal accomplishments of the Branstad administration.  She said she was proud of al they were able to accomplish without sacrificing their Republican principles.  “It started with us getting our state budget under control.  When Governor Branstad and I took office we were facing a 900 million dollar budget gap.  We put an end to the bad budget practices of our state government, and didn’t allow us to spend more money than what we took in.  We started a two-year budget that was instrumental in turning the state around.”

She also highlighted the education reform bill that introduced alternative career pathways for teachers and school choice measures that bolstered liberty for homeschooling parents, as well as, independent private instruction for non-public schools.

Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is currently running for U.S. Senate and he addressed the group.  He pointed out our fiscal woes, “We have a 16 trillion dollar debt and we’re going up a trillion dollars a year.”  He asked, “Do you know what 16 trillion dollars looks like?… If you put one dollar bill on top of another which will be a million miles high.  You’d think they’d (Congress) would be able to see that great big stack, and they’re going to put 80,000 more miles on this year.”

Santorum keynoted the evening and resonated with the audience present.  He challenged Republicans to stick to their values and fight.  He mentioned that he is involved in trying to impact culture by becoming the CEO of an entertainment company.  He told the audience that they must be engaged.  “You need to fight back in your families and your communities.  For your children.  You let things come into your house through television that you would never let walk through your front door.  You need to encourage your children to engage in the fight.  Stand up for your faith.  Stand up for your values – in every arena because they do.  The other side does fight.  How do you think we were able to take a country and radically change the values of this country in the last fifty years?  Because they have been busy and we haven’t,” Santorum exhorted the group.

He also shared that we must go beyond speaking to small business owners to also speak to workers, “If all we do is focus on the job creators and not the job holders we are talking to a very small group of people who would normally agree with us anyway because they have to live with the government and they know what the problems are.  What we did not do in the last election and what we do not do as a party is talk to the folks who want to be with us, but they don’t think we care about them because we don’t talk to them.  Literally we don’t talk to them.”

Hoefert was pleased with the event and deemed it a success.  He said on Facebook last night, “WOW!! I AM SPEECHLESS (and that is a feat) We had an amazing packed house tonight! It was very motivating and humbling to feel all the great work that our counties and their volunteers put into this event and then to see it go off WITHOUT A HITCH!! 400 people and roughly $30,000 raised! I could not be prouder of our group!”

A remarkable feat for a remote corner of the state.

You can watch the whole event from last night here.

Photo credit: Jacob Hall

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