An April 3rd National Journal article entitled “Testing Iowa’s Rightward Tilt” featured interviews with Des Moines attorney Doug Gross and IFPC Action Board Chairman Danny Carroll. The article, which highlighted Terry Branstad’s continuing trouble with the conservative base of the Republican Party, illustrated the growing divide by quoting one of Branstad’s closest confidants and one of his most notable critics.
The article, by James Barnes, explains how Republican elitists like Gross actively recruited a candidate for governor who would downplay the so-called “social issues” both as a reaction to the 2008 caucuses and as a way to set the stage for a moderate presidential candidate in 2012. According to Barnes “Gross watched in dismay as evangelical Christians flooded Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, delivering an upset victory to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.”
Upon reading the article, IFPC Action Board Chairman Danny Carroll said, “Barnes did a pretty good job of presenting the situation as I see it here in Iowa. His article pointed out that as Governor, Terry Branstad raised taxes, supported gambling, and empowered people like Joy Corning, who promote abortion and homosexuality. It also pointed out that Branstad has not done a good job of convincing voters he would take any real action to confront an out of control court.” He went on to say, “the only area where I take issue with the article is the claim that Terry Branstad’s conservative credentials are intact, when they are clearly in question.”
According to Carroll, “The conclusions of the article, and the quotes from a close Branstad advisor like Doug Gross, only serve to reinforce the accuracy of my January 12th comments when I made it clear that there is no compelling reason for men and women of conviction to compromise and support Terry Branstad.” Pointing to the conflict between Branstad’s record as governor and the Republican platform, along with the obvious problems generated by an unrelenting connection to people like Gross and Corning, Carroll went on to say, “It continues to appear that the Branstad campaign was fabricated by a very small group of political elites, and wealthy power brokers, as a last ditch effort to keep the people of Iowa from charting a new course apart from the system that has for far too long benefitted far too few.”
The Republican platform reflects the hard work and strong convictions of the grassroots base of their party. Rather than promote a candidate who shares those convictions, the political elites prefer to perpetuate a system divorced from those principles. The question that remains to be answered is if those same elites are willing to lose yet another election, or if they are ready to stop fighting with their own base and run on winning principles. Referring to a quote from Gross in the National Journal article, Carroll said, “I agree with Doug Gross on one thing; if Republicans continue to let the minority of their party, represented by insiders and elitists like Doug Gross and Terry Branstad, continue to control a minority party, they’ll always be a minority.”