9:12p – Mingling around the crowd talking to people… the consensus is Gingrich impressed a lot of people.  There were a few here tonight who decided they were going to support him.  The second name I heard a lot of was Santorum.  I agree with that assessment, I think Gingrich and Santorum had the most substance to their speeches.  Bachmann’s was ok.  Perry’s was fine, but he just didn’t seem to connect with the crowd as much.  Nobody who isn’t already on board with Ron Paul was impressed with him tonight.  Well, I’m out.  Cya.

8:28p – Program is done, on time!

8:26p – If Gingrich’s the nominee, “The White House will be my scheduler, and everywhere the President appears I will be there the next day.” (Refers to Lincoln’s campaign tactic against Douglas).

8:24p – Gingrich – “I’ll challenge Barack Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates three hour each.  With no moderator, but a timekeeper.”  He’ll give him a concession, I’ll let him use a teleprompter.

8:23p – Gingrich: My first executive order will be to get rid of all the czars.

8:19p – Gingrich agreed with Paul’s monetary policy.  “Rick Perry is my mentor on the 10th Amendment.”  He said he agrees with his energy policy, and would like to compare flat taxes.  Gives props to Bachmann for being the first to oppose Dodd-Frank and for her leadership on repealing Obamacare.  He said he’s proud of Santorum’s commitment to serve his country and that he has been right about Iran and Syria.  He said I wished there were a couple more here tonight (Cain and Romney).  He said we have a lot of collleagues, but no opponents.  We only have one opponent – Barack Obama.

8:18p – Gingrich urges Iowans to add two more Republicans to their delegation so that they would have momentum to govern in 2013.

8:17p – Gingrich up.

8:16p – Santorum: I have the track record on social issues, fiscal issues, and national security issues.

8:14p – Santorum: Important news next week to come out  a report on Iran’s nuclear capability.  Iran obtains an nuclear weapon the world as we now it will change.  “They can not under any circumstance obtain a nuclear weapon.”

8:12p – Santorum: Cut manufacturer’s income tax to zero, we want to make products here in America.  Cut regulations, help manufacturers reinvest their money back in the U.S.

8:10p – Santorum: Announced “Faith, Family and Freedom” agenda today in America.  He put together a 20 point plan on defending marriage, protecting religious liberty, and protecting life.  He also put together a plan on the economy, touts manufacturing jobs plan.  (I was told my several people who attended a manufacturers forum in Pella that Santorum did very well there.)

8:08p – Santourm: Iowans and Americans realize that we can’t have limited government and a strong economy without strong families.  They realize that the foundation of our nation was a moral enterprise.  So he said he learned that Iowans realize that we’re not just about jobs, taxes, and the economy.

8:06p – Santorum: “I’d say that its great to be back in Iowa, but I’ve been here a little while.”  He has been here 8 days in a row, and just pulled a “Grassley” and just finished visiting all 99 counties.

8:05p – Bachmann is done, Santorum is up.

8:05p – Bachmann: Her hope in America was renewed by seeing the Iowans spirit… she always does the best job pandering.  She believes that Obama will be a one-term President.  No compromise on repealing Obamacare, liberty, etc.

8:02p – Bachmann:  For us the beginning is the individual for we were made in the image of a holy, loving God.

8:01p – Bachmann: U.S. we need to look at Greece because it is the trailer for where we are going.

7:59p – Bachmann talks about her fight against raising the debt ceiling.  She said the spending has got to stop.  She contrasts budget deficits of Republicans in 2007 and Democrats now…. so Republicans are driving in bankruptcy slower?

7:58p – Nothing of substance yet for Bachmann thanked Iowans for giving up playoff football, thanked Matt Strawn.

7:56p – So far their keeping it short, Perry spoke for 8-9 minutes.  Bachmann up.

7:54p – Perry – “It’s time to force Washington, DC to kick the earmark habit.”  “Until the budget gets balanced I’ll enforce an across the board pay freeze for Congress, federal employees.”

7:52p – Perry, “America is longing for leadership and that is what is missing in Washington, DC.”  He referred to how Obama has passed the buck to a committee to discuss budget cuts noting there has been 20 such committees over the last 30 years and nothing has been done.

7:49p – Perry: It’s wrong to put our energy security of nations that are hostile to us.  “I’d bring a wrecking ball to Washington.”  He said we need to get rid of status quo mentality.  Touts 20% flat tax plan, so simple even Tim Geithner can get it.  He said he’d get rid of corporate tax loopholes.  Cut spending, campaign for balanced budget amendment.

7:48p – Perry said that each and every one of the competitors present would do a better job the current President.  He said we’re in the middle of “Operation Occupy The White House.”

7:47p – Paul done, Perry up (going out of order evidently).

7:46p – If we have the right to life and liberty he said shouldn’t it make sense that we keep the fruit of our labor?  There should be no income tax.

7:45p – He said we need a new foreign policy, we don’t need to be the policemen of the world, and end these wars and bring our troops home.

7:44p – Paul says we need to cut a trillion dollars in the first year, cut five departments, start with the Federal Dept. of Education.

7:42p – He’s staying on his “money” topic (both literally and figuratively).  Talking about runaway government spending and too much government debt… linking to how we are just printing money with no sound standard.

7:41p – Paul quotes Reagan who said, “I’ve never seen a great nation that gave up the gold standard that stayed great.”

7:40p – Ron Paul said he first met President Ronald Reagan in 1976, sharing that story.  I’m sure we’ll hear everybody’s Reagan stories since it is the Reagan Dinner.

7:38p – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is introducing his dad, Ron Paul, via video.

7:35p – Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn promised to keep Iowa first in the nation.  He said that this is set to be the best fundraising year that the Iowa GOP has ever had.

7:31p – A couple of candid pics:

7:21p – Senator Chuck Grassley is up, he’s saying the economy is now Obama’s.

7:19p – I uploaded a couple of videos of Rick Perry and Rick Santorum mingling.  Perry seems to be getting most of the press attention here tonight.  Talking with some folks tonight a number of undecideds, a few for Gingrich, a few for Santorum, and a couple for Perry.  I have the sense there are a good number here who still don’t know or their support is still pretty soft.

7:09p – I’m back… the program is just starting only 9 minutes late.


I am at the Iowa GOP Republican Dinner at Hy-Vee Hall tonight.  We have several Presidential candidates lined up to speak: Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry are all on deck.

Three candidates who are not hear this evening – Herman Cain, perhaps he’s wants to avoid tough questions about his alleged misconduct while he was the CEO of the National Restaurant Association (who today confirmed there was a complaint made).  The proof is already out there that shows he’s an absolute liar.  He decided tonight he’d rather speak at an Americans for Prosperity event instead of actually meet with actual voters.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman are also both a no-go for tonight.  Iowans, again I ask, why would we vote for people who don’t want to show up to our state?

Here’s the schedule for tonight’s line-up:

6:00p- Doors Open/General Reception
7:00p- Welcome by Iowa GOP Co-Chairman Bill Schickel
7:15p- Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds delivers remarks
7:20p- U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley delivers remarks
7:26p- Chairman Matt Strawn delivers remarks
7:30p- U.S. Representative Ron Paul delivers remarks
7:41p- U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann delivers remarks
7:52p- Speaker Newt Gingrich delivers remarks
8:02p- Senator Rick Santorum delivers remarks
8:13p- Governor Rick Perry delivers remarks
8:25p- Closing Ronald Reagan Tribute Video

As always consider this post an open-thread, and this will be televised on C-SPAN so if you don’t have a life on Friday night like me and want to follow along go ahead.

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