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I was part of the online panel for The Des Moines Register last Thursday during the last of three debates held with the remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates.  Unfortunately the livestream available wasn’t cooperating with me, so I wanted to wait to comment until I watched the debate in full so I could do so intelligently (I hope).

First off I need to give props to The Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television for the format and staging of this debate.  It was much, much better compared to the last major debate they held (2008 Republican Presidential Debate).

Secondly, though I have endorsed a candidate already in this race, Rod Roberts, I will try to be as objective as I can.

So I think it would be best to look at each candidate’s performance, and I will start with former Governor Terry Branstad.  In this debate you could definitely see a theme – experience, experience, experience.  You can not deny that is certainly his strong suit (can also be an Achilles heel as well).  He was the first candidate to go after current Governor Chet Culver, and did so several times throughout the debate.  When discussing incentives for businesses, you can see this is something that he has much experience with.  He gave several good specific answers, in particular, his answer regarding what regulation he would repeal he mentioned the regulation that doesn’t allow farmers to do their own wiring.  He said, “they should have to hire a union electrician to do that.”  He then went on to attack Culver and legislative Democrats on this issue, and mentioned he is a member of the Farm Bureau.

His answer about defunding Planned Parenthood was a welcome surprise, and he made a strong statement on life.  I thought that he handled attacks made by Bob Vander Plaats well, with the exception his remark about Joy Corning, “I think it’s unfortunate you would attack a Republican.”  It was a lame response, and a short time before that he accused Bob Vander Plaats of lying.

While Vander Plaats is taking some of Branstad’s record out-of-context, there were problems with his record that he can’t just dismiss as well, for instance, former State Auditor Dick Johnson’s criticism (it should be noted that Johnson endorsed Vander Plaats).  Also his unwillingness to encourage Iowans to vote no for Iowa Supreme Court justices is frustrating.  All in all, I feel it was a strong performance for Branstad.

Bob Vander Plaats was confident and aggressive.  He has made major strides on developing economic and business development plan since the start of his campaign, and he clearly communicated it.  He was strong on illegal immigration, life, marriage, and education.

Like I mentioned before his question of Branstad regarding his fiscal management was appropriate… “Why should Iowans trust you with their wallet again?”  Citing the state auditor during Branstad’s time in office is effective.  He has to establish the difference between Branstad and himself is necessary.

Where he fell flat was in his recollection of advice that Governor Branstad gave him.  First off, brining private conversations into a debate – not cool.  Secondly, using supposed advice to make the advice-giver look bad – not cool.  It was a political cheap shot and I thought Vander Plaats was supposed to be above that.  Then he didn’t even answer the question, which was “what has been the biggest political mistake you’ve ever made?”  He didn’t even answer the question, instead he attacked Branstad.

Then he’s saying… vote for me, I don’t have a record!!!!!  Not so fast.  I think there is an established record of his leadership, and it isn’t very appealing.

Bringing up Joy Corning once, ok… twice he’s going overboard.  It really seemed that he spent more time attacking Branstad than he did defining himself for those who are undecided.  The attacks fire up his base to be sure, but I don’t think it gains him any traction with the undecided.  Especially when Branstad did rebut his criticisms well with names, places, times and context when addressing items Vander Plaats brought up.

I also agree with Branstad that Vander Plaats is demonstrating a naiveté when it comes to judicial appointments. While I wish Branstad would be outspoken on the retention vote for judges, we have to recognize that we are looking at the situation on the court with hindsight.  Branstad didn’t have that available to him.  I can think of a popular conservative President who made a judicial appointment that I’m sure disappointed him as well.  President Ronald Reagan when he appointed Sandra Day O’Conner as she made decisions that he would have disagreed with.

Also nobody is mentioning that the judicial nomination committee, constitutionally provides the choice of candidate from which a Governor has to choose.  While the Governor appoints those people it’s still entirely possible that they could provide the Governor with choices that are bad and worse.  I know Deace and company would say – reject the choices… ok then.  The Constitution then says the Chief Justice makes the decision if an appointment is not made within 30 days.  Let’s be clear, abdicating the decision isn’t demonstrating leadership.

Then there is the whole case he’s making about providing a check on the judiciary with authority that he constitutionally doesn’t have.  It makes me uncomfortable even though I’d personally love to see somebody tell the Iowa Supreme Court to go fly a kite.  He just doesn’t have that authority given to him by Iowa’s Constitution.

With the fireworks between Branstad and Vander Plaats – Representative Roberts didn’t get as much air time.  That was unfortunate.  I believe he still represents the unity candidate, and he stuck to that them when he said, “the kind of dialogue we hear today is the kind of attitude and actions that Iowans say ‘we’re done with that, we don’t like that, we’re looking for someone who can lead’ someone who can look beyond personal issues and can share new ideas and a compelling vision of where Iowa ought to go.”

When he discussed regulations he demonstrated a firm grasp on issues that rural Iowans face.  When discussing spending cuts he gave amounts showing this is something he has researched and has a firm grasp on.  I think he won the question on what you can cut.  Not only did he say he’d cut Planned Parenthood funding – he knew how much it would save Iowa’s taxpayers.  His answer on marriage, judges and life was solid.  The only position that he took that surprised me was on the death penalty.  I didn’t realize he was against that.

He gave a solid performance, but was overshadowed by the Branstad-Vander Plaats fireworks.

All in all, I can’t say anyone “won.”  Branstad did do better than I expected.  Roberts was likely overshadowed enough he wasn’t much of a factor.  Vander Plaats I don’t think did anything that would help undecided voters.  A well-run debate, but not sure we really learned anything new.

But don’t take my word for it. Watch it yourself.

7 comments
  1. When there are 3 candidates running, quite often the 3rd one helps one of the other 2 win. Who is the 3rd one and who will he most likely help to win?

  2. Shane –

    “Then he’s saying… vote for me, I don’t have a record!!!!! Not so fast. I think there is an established record of his leadership, and it isn’t very appealing.”

    Obviously, Shane, you didn’t read the entire article that you linked . . . Let me summarize: Bob gets attacked by a Democrat (Kibbe) that took over the CEO position at OU after he left, ran it into the ground, after Bob was GONE, and now blames Bob for it. The board of directors at OU made it very clear in this article that while Bob was at OU, the organization did fabulously well, and it went down AFTER he stepped down as CEO to pursue a run for the governor’s seat. This whole argument is akin to blaming Branstad for the budget mess in Iowa that Culver has put us in! You, as a Christian, you should want to represent the ENTIRE truth in all matters . . . I don’t think you have lived up to that here.

    “He just doesn’t have that authority given to him by Iowa’s Constitution.”

    In point of fact, he most certainly does . . . . The Iowa Constitution has no provision in it whatsoever allowing the supreme court to declare any laws “un-Constitutional” . . . sorry, but it just isn’t there . . . more to the point, the SCOI is LIMITED in its jurisdiction by the Constitution as follows:

    Article V, Section 4, Jurisdiction of supreme court. “The supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction only in cases in chancery, and shall constitute a court for the correction of errors at law, under such restrictions as the general assembly may, by law, prescribe . . . “

    That’s it . . . that is the limit of their jurisdiction under Iowa’s Constitution, to provide for corrections of ERRORS AT LAW . . . nothing there about being able to “interpret the Constitution,” etc. And as BVP has correctly pointed out, this means that Iowa’s DOMA law is STILL the law in Iowa.

    So we get to the powers of the governor in Iowa according to the Constitution: Article IV, Section 9, Execution of laws. SEC. 9. “He shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”

    Do you see that Shane? . . . it is the express duty of the governor to ensure that the laws passed by the legislature are EXECUTED . . . . if you are going to make assertions about the Iowa Constitution, I suggest that you first read it.

    As far as Mr. Roberts, he is without a doubt a FINE individual, and has honorably served the State of Iowa in the legislature . . . however, he, like you, does not understand the above, and I take exception to his comments in the Des Moines Register that “all laws passed by the legislature are moral.”

    Here is another one for you: Article I, Section 2, Political Power. “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.”

    I continuously wonder in this state why self-professed Christians like yourself are so willing to concede the political power of the people of Iowa to a run away and elitist supreme court . . . is it just ignorance of the Constitution, or some bizarre reading of Romans 13 and/or I Peter that leads you to believe that God ordains and establishes rulers to do evil in our midst, and we are required to blindly accept it?

    Neither Branstad nor Roberts are going to do anything, by their own admission, other than lobby the legislature, to reverse the “same sex marriage” status of Iowa. Only Bob has the courage, conviction and knowledge of the rightful power of the office of governor to do what should and must be done to get the Iowa supreme court back under their correct Constitutional definition and authority . . . you and all Christians, as well as all Iowan’s, should support that wholeheartedly

    Phil

    1. Phil – I have read the Iowa Constitution numerous times.

      Also thanks for questioning my faith and calling me a liar though. Sorry I don’t find his record appealing, that is a personal opinion. He talks about being the only private sector leader, has he forgotten what Branstad has done since leaving office? Can BVP compare to that? Um, no. Also talking about truth – BVP/IFPC/Deace has been real good at half-truths as well with Branstad’s record. I say that as someone who does not support Branstad. I’ve been very clear about that, but I’m not going to demonize the man either.

      Also, I’m also not conceding the political power of the people to the courts – which is why I’m encouraging people vote no on retention – a constitutional process.

      Thanks for questioning my faith and commitment to a biblical worldview – it’s the type of rhetoric I’ve come to expect from BVP supporters. I’d say you are an asset to your candidate, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

      1. “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” ~ Prov 27:5

        A) “I have read the Iowa Constitution numerous times.” Then why do you pronounce falsehoods like “He just doesn’t have that authority given to him by Iowa’s Constitution?” This is the lie that is being foisted on us by the Godless left so they can retain same sex marriage. The Christian founders of this nation and state would NEVER leave their progeny with such an unjust, despotic system of government – it defies logic and reason. Either you have forgotten, or are simply parroting this from someone else, or you are intentionally misquoting the document – you tell me which is the case . . . but please stop helping to spread the lies . . or better yet . . . write a retraction.

        B) “Also thanks for questioning my faith and calling me a liar though.” I never said one word questioning your faith, and I did not call you a liar. What I said was “as a Christian, you should want to represent the ENTIRE truth in all matters . . . I don’t think you have lived up to that here.” I still don’t because you haven’t responded to what I wrote . . . you are trying to deflect the original point by turning this into “my personal attack on you” rather than discussing the issues from a Christian perspective. Calling oneself a “Christ follower” requires one to submit to the truth. Find me in error in what I have written, and I will do exactly that ~ will you?

        C) “Has he forgotten what Branstad has done since leaving office?” Are you more concerned about Branstad’s resume, or what he has/will or won’t do as governor of the State of Iowa? The original discussion here was about the last debate – that is what I am responding to, and the inaccuracies of what you wrote above.

        D) “Can BVP compare to that? Um, no.” You’re right . . . that is (only) your personal opinion . . . my personal opinion is that I have never been that impressed with “academia” . . . given that that is the source of most of the anti-Christian, liberal-left thinking in this country. And Branstad is falling squarely into that camp, and we Christians are apparently going to allow it without a “peep.” Maybe you’re impressed, but you might want to rethink that, from a Christian/Biblical worldview.

        E) “Thanks for questioning my faith and commitment to a biblical worldview” As I said above, I never did either . . . you are simply using this as a “crying towel” to deflect attention away from the fact that your original contentions are in error. It would be refreshing (but unexpected) here to see you either rebut what I wrote, or simply write a retraction on the errors. That, IMHO, would be the honorable Christian thing to do. Please stop with the big “he’s picking on me” tears and address the issues like a Christian man. It is just a bit too sappy.

        F) “I’d say you are an asset to your candidate, but that wouldn’t be the truth.” Certainly the same must be said for you as well then, as I can’t help but wonder if Rod would like to see you helping spread the half-truths and lies of Branstad and Democrat Kibbe in attacking Bob.

      2. I linked to the article – I didn’t say it was true or false. I stated I wasn’t impressed with his background, an opinion. My point is that his record can also be attacked.

        Regarding the Constitution… his opinion/interpretation is based on the word “magistrate.” I’ve seen constitutional scholars debate this so stop acting like it’s cut and dry. If it was I’d agree with you, but it isn’t.

        He certainly can refuse to “execute” an opinion issued by the Iowa Supreme Court. The problem is – he doesn’t “execute” marriage law – County Recorders do who are duly elected officials accountable to their constituency and Board of Supervisors – not the Governor.

        Believe me, I’d love to tell the Iowa Supreme Court to go fly a kite, and I will when I vote no on retention.

        And I’m not attacking Bob. I’ve issued no personal attack, and won’t It is a disagreement, learn to recognize the difference.

        As far as a retraction, I have offered retractions when I’ve been in error. But I’ve lied about nothing.

        And I’m not crying… just pointing out a tactic that I’m quite frankly sick of by some in your camp – just as I’m sick of what I see Branstad supporters saying about BVP supporters over at TIR.

  3. Shane –

    You can have the last word after this, but your responses continue to justify rebuttal. No one is going to read this but you anyway, so I am writing for your benefit, in a Christian attempt to wake you up. If you decide to shrug that off, then that is your choice.

    “I linked to the article – I didn’t say it was true or false” – Let’s look at exactly what you said: “I think there is an established record of his leadership, and it isn’t very appealing.” You are right . . you didn’t say that it was true or false; you couldn’t, because the article, quite fairly, offered BOTH SIDES of the issue, and therefore cannot be represented as either “true or false.” However, by your statement, you accepted and reported/represented only Democrat Kibbe’s side of the story as a factual record of Bob’s leadership, and rejected Bob’s response and significant evidence that Kibbe was lying, i.e. that the board members of OU have no issues with Bob, to the point that he is STILL working for the parent company. Disingenuous at best . . . deceitful at the worst.

    “Regarding the Constitution… his opinion/interpretation is based on the word “magistrate.”” – It doesn’t matter . . . as I have clearly showed you, the Iowa supreme court had absolutely no authority vested in it from the Iowa Constitution to declare laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor as “un-Constitutional.” They simply do not have any authority to do what they have done. Further, the State Attorney General, who works in the judicial branch of the government, had no authority whatsoever to order county recorders to issue “same sex marriage” licenses. I also, with direct reference to the words in the Iowa Constitution, pointed out to you that it is the express duty of the Governor, mandated by the Iowa Constitution, to ensure that the laws of Iowa are executed. I doesn’t matter if it is Vander Plaats, Culver, Branstad, or Roberts . . . failure to enforce Iowa’s DOMA law is a dereliction of duty and a malfeasance of office.

    “I’ve seen constitutional scholars debate this so stop acting like it’s cut and dry. If it was I’d agree with you, but it isn’t.” – This statement speaks volumes about the uncertainty of your belief system Shane, and in my opinion, this goes to the very heart of why Christians and conservatives are failing to make a difference in our society as it crumbles. You told me that you have read the Iowa Constitution. Do you recognize the preamble? This is it, right?: “ WE THE CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLARS OF THE STATE OF IOWA, do ordain and establish a government where we can tell the people of Iowa what is and isn’t an acceptable way to run their state.” Does that work for you? From what you have written above, it would seem so. Sorry Shane, but I can read the plain English language that the Iowa Constitution is written in, and what the founders of this state intended, and understand that the preamble really says this: “ WE THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF IOWA, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of those blessings, do ordain and establish a free and independent government, by the name of the State of Iowa . . . not much room for the rule of “constitutional scholars” there, is there? You say that it isn’t “cut and dry” . . . that is only because you are willing to acquiesce to so-called “experts” when it comes to defining our freedoms (or the lack of them). As a result, we now live in a bizarre society that claims to be “constitutionally sound” (according to your “experts”), but the laws and the system and the basic functioning of the government bear no resemblance to the Constitution whatsoever. . . . THIS is EXACTLY why “Tea parties” are blossoming all over the country: people want their country and their freedom BACK from the “experts” who keep depriving us of those very freedoms.

    “He certainly can refuse to “execute” an opinion issued by the Iowa Supreme Court. The problem is – he doesn’t “execute” marriage law – County Recorders do who are duly elected officials accountable to their constituency and Board of Supervisors – not the Governor.” – Sorry Shane, but you are quite incorrect about what our State Constitution says once again. To wit: Municipal home rule. SEC. 38A. “Municipal corporations are granted home rule power and authority, NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE LAWS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY . . . . “ Do you see that Shane? We know from what I wrote earlier that it is the express duty of the Governor to see that the laws of the State are executed, and here we see that counties cannot pass or enforce laws that do not align with State law. And DOMA IS THE CURRENT STATE LAW. So Vander Plaats would not only have the Constitutional authority to require the county recorders to stop issuing “same sex marriage” licenses . . . IT IS HIS DUTY!!!!

    “Believe me, I’d love to tell the Iowa Supreme Court to go fly a kite, and I will when I vote no on retention.” – All I have to say to this is: “let me know how that works out for you.”

    “As far as a retraction, I have offered retractions when I’ve been in error. But I’ve lied about nothing.” – Actually, you have several good reasons to print a retraction, though I know your pride will not allow you to: 1) You presented the Kibbe argument as “factual” by saying “I think there is an established record of his leadership, and it isn’t very appealing.” You completely ignored the strong evidence that Kibbe might be lying. 2) You have made multiple false assertions about the lack of constitutional derived authority of the office of Governor to do anything about the current illicit status of “same sex marriage,” and I have shown you by exact reference to the Constitution where you are in error. All you have done is try to cover this up with talk about the opinions of “constitutional scholars,” contrary to the plain, clear language and intent of the Iowa Constitution.

    “And I’m not crying… just pointing out a tactic that I’m quite frankly sick of by some in your camp” – What “tactic” exactly is it that you’re sick of Shane? Exposing deception and telling the truth? Does that offend you? If you think I have written all this to “prove myself superior” to you or to simply discredit your choice of candidate, or you, etc. you are sadly mistaken. My motive is simply this: Christians need to stop listening to the doctrines of men – you have regurgitated several here – the founders of this State didn’t: “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF IOWA, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of those blessings, do ordain and establish a free and independent government . . . .” We have a better than average chance of reversing the godless, un-Constitutional actions of the Iowa “supreme” court if all Christians in Iowa will unite in this purpose . . . tell me: why won’t you?

    “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” ~ Matt 15:9

    -P-

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