Iowa GOP Reagan Dinner

(Des Moines, IA) – I am at the 2013 Reagan Dinner for the Republican Party of Iowa.  We are at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (formerly Vet’s Auditorium).  This event has been a prominent event for Iowa politics for years and has highlighted in the past former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, numerous presidential candidates and the like.  Tonight firebrand Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will keynote.  I will be live blogging the event.  Be sure to refresh your browser to follow along (the most recent update will be at the top).

10:00p – And that concludes the live blog… it’s been real.  I need to get something to eat.  Where’s Walshe’s Kit Kat?

9:59p – Video of the press avail is up:

9:41p – Some grassroots reaction: “It was solid. Just saw Ted Cruz thanking the wait staff for their service. That was pretty cool,” Greg Adams told me on Facebook.

Kay Quirk watched the speech on C-Span.  She said, “What a gracious man Senator Ted Cruz is, always giving credit to others and loved his focus on uniting to influence outcomes.”

9:32p – Press avail video is uploading.  I’ll add that ASAP.  Here is a photo of the press avail:


I ran into U.S. Senate Candidate Matt Whitaker he told Caffeinated Thoughts, “I enjoyed (tonight).  Ted Cruz is a very powerful speaker, and this is a message that he has been carrying around the country.  It’s inspiring.”

I also asked him what he thought of Governor’s Branstad citing Reagan’s 11th Commandment.  “I don’t think he was aiming that at anyone in particular.”  Connecting that to the U.S. Senate primary he said, “we are going to have to make contrasts, but I would be disappointed if it became attacks.”  Whitaker said that it is appropriate to point out voting records and positions on issues.

8:48p – Cruz is done.  Have to head to a press conference with him.

8:46p – Cruz: We want to avoid having grandchildren ask us “what was America like when America was free?”

8:45p – Cruz: Talks about Dad who came to America after being oppressed in Cuba. See a video of his dad, Rafael Cruz, here.

8:44p – Cruz: The greatest economic engine ever seen is the free market system of the United States.  That message needs to be communicated to single parents, Hispanics, African Americans, etc.

8:40p – Cruz: As Republicans we should be championing for people who are struggling.

8:39p – Cruz: Reagan didn’t say, “I’m just a little different than Jimmy Carter, but just a tad more conservative.”

8:37p – Cruz: You don’t win races by keeping your head down.  “The general wisdom is during the primary you run to the right and the general you run to the left… what complete poppycock.”  When you do this you destroy every single reason for people to show up and vote.

8:36p – Cruz: If you took every Washington strategist and dump them in the ocean do you know what it would be called?  A good start.  They were wrong in 2006, 2008 and 2012.

8:34p – Cruz: This fight is worth it because it is the path to victory.  We need to unify.  We need to come together.  Growth and freedom are ideals that mobilize all people.  It brings together evangelicals and libertarians.  Main Street with Wall Street.

8:33p – Cruz: encouraged audience to text “growth” to 33733.  He said he wants to mobilize and energize the grassroots.

8:32p – Cruz: new website – – Americans can go share their stories.

8:31p – Cruz: Four of the five grassroots uprisings were complete victories.

8:30p – Cruz: Had Senate Republicans stood together the turnout of the government shutdown would have looked a lot different.

8:29p – Cruz: We’ve made Democrats take a lot of stupid votes.  Harry Reid marched all 54 Senate Democrats off the cliff by voting against removing Congress’ exemption from Obamacare.

8:28p – Cruz: Nothing wins elections more than an active, energized grassroots.

8:27p – Cruz: Six million Americans signed the Don’t Fund It petition.

8:22p – Cruz: 3rd example was Immigration is another example – grassroots stopped amnesty. 4th example – Syria.  5th example – elevate debate over health care reform.

8:21p – Cruz: Every time one of the President’s gun control initiatives were introduced in the Senate they were voted down.

8:19p – Cruz: New paradigm brought about President Obama admitting that he did not have the constitutional authority to target Americans with drones.  It also stopped gun control measures pushed by the Obama administration.

8:16p – Cruz: “I am convinced we are facing a new paradigm in politics, it is derived by the grassroots.  It has official Washington terrified…. it has been beta tested unlike the health care website.  It was beta tested by the Reagan revolution.”

8:14p – Cruz: Saw stagflation during Carter administration.  Grassroots revolution that brought Reagan into office.  He implemented policies that brought about economic growth.  By the 4th year of Reagan’s presidency the GDP growth was 7.2%.  If President Obama implemented the same policies that Reagan did we’d have 7 million new jobs.

8:13p – Cruz: Growth is the answer.  If there is ever a word that every Republican should have tattooed on their head it’s growth.

8:11p – Cruz: In his daughter’s short life our national debt has grown by 60%.

8:09p – Cruz: NSA has violated our 4th and 5th amendment.  “If you have your cell phones please leave them on so President Obama can hear everything we are saying.”  Administration has violated 10th Amendment time and again.

8:08p – Cruz gives examples of how First Amendment has been violated with military chaplains.  Then said our 2nd Amendment is being violated.

8:07p – Cruz wonders if there is a constitutional right not violated by the current administration.

8:06p –  Tells story about one daughter wanting to work in Senate with her dad.  The other daughter said “Daddy will be dead by then.”  Cruz: “I had to wonder if she was talking to Republican leadership.”

8:05p – Typical Ted Cruz not standing behind the podium with no notes.

8:01p – Long standing O for Senator Ted Cruz, not quite Texas style though.  He promises to do everything humanly possible to speak less than 21 hours.

8:00p – Senator Ted Cruz is up next.

7:59p – Branstad: Reagan said we don’t have national debt because we don’t tax enough, we have debt because we spend too much.

7:58p – Branstad: Is on a tear pointing out the virtues of Republican governors – fiscal discipline, education reform, etc.

7:55p – Branstad: Points out WI Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich for the lower unemployment rate.  He points out how Michigan Gov. Snyder helped bring a right to work law there.  Illinois – “their former governors are in prison, I’m back in office.”

7:54p – Branstad is giving Texas Governor Rick Perry props for their low taxes and job creation.

7:53p – Branstad: DC needs to follow the leadership provided by America’s Republican Governors.

7:51p – Branstad: We conservatives know that we need to work together to fight liberal Democrats.  Cites Reagan’s  11th commandment to not speak ill of other Republicans.

7:50p – Branstad thanks party and staff for putting together event.  Welcomes Sen. Cruz.

7:48p – Gov. Terry Branstad is up next.

7:47p – Lt. Gov. Reynolds “STEM based jobs are projected to increase four times faster than non-STEM jobs.”

7:46p – Lt. Gov. Reynolds: Giving a list of businesses that have come to Iowa during the Branstad administration.

7:44p – Lt. Gov. Reynolds: People are better off when they are not dependent on the government.

7:42p – Standing O for Sen. Grassley.  Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is up next.

7:41p – Grassley: We are an exceptional nation and we are not going to let the President destroy that notion.

7:40p – Grassley: Today together we can pay it forward for generations to come if we work together.  Unified we can save our Republic.  If not us who?  If not now when?

7:39p – Grassley: Democrats want to promote big spending, dependency and big government.  We promote limited government, personal responsibility and free markets.

7:37p – Sen. Grassley: Quotes JFK – “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

7:35p – Sen. Grassley: “President Obama said he wouldn’t negotiate with a gun to his head.  Mr. President show me one time where you did do a budget negotiate without a gun to your head?”

7:34p – Sen. Grassley: “Unfortunately our 16 day shutdown did not reduce the debt, not even a single dime.  The White House squandered a great opportunity to slow down the debt clock.”

7:33p – Sen. Grassley: “Washington is an island surrounded by reality.”

7:31p – Senator Chuck Grassley: I am going to yield half of my time and give it to the good senator from Texas.  You don’t know how much time I have been given.

7:28p – Congressman Tom Latham was here, but didn’t stay… hmmm… maybe didn’t want to hear feedback about his vote on the debt ceiling deal.  Gopal just called Matt Whitaker “Mark Whitaker” oops.

7:23p – Iowa RNC National Committeeman Steve Scheffler opened in prayer.  A tad partisan for my tastes. State Central Committeeman Gopal Krishna is the emcee… look out for corny jokes.

7:18p – Spiker: In order to effect change we need to elect strong leaders.

7:17p – Spiker promises that as long as he is chairman people won’t have to wonder what the difference is between Democrats and Republicans.

7:15p – Spiker: Cruz has always done what is right, even if it means standing up to your own political party.  The GOP is at a crossroads as it determines what kind of party it wants to be.  I am proud to be chairman of the Iowa GOP whose mission is to elect Republicans while standing on principles.

7:13p – Chairman AJ Spiker said the establishment thinks the dirtiest word you can use is “principles.”

7:11p – Fischer: Establishment calls Sens. Lee, Paul and Cruz names.  I have a name for them too – the future.

7:09p – Program starting.  Fischer said “we need to get things going because the last time somebody gave Senator Cruz a mike he had it for 21 hours.

7:05p – C-Span coverage should have started already.  Senator Cruz’ plane was late, but is in the building.  Iowa GOP Co-Chair David Fischer said he was taking care of some private appointments first and encouraged people to start eating.

We in the media row get to watch.  I did see Shushuannah Walshe with ABC News with a Kit Kat bar… coveting.

6:48p – Senator Chuck Grassley and his former chief of staff and current U.S. Senate Candidate David Young.


6:30p – Jan Mickelson of WHO Radio told Caffeinated Thoughts that he expects a standard stump speech tonight.  “He’ll serve up a lot of red meat,” he said.  He also is interested to see if there will be an Iowa version of the 8 minute standing ovation that Senator Cruz received when he went back home to Texas after the filibuster.

State Representative Sandy Salmon told me that she hopes that he will “stay the course with articulating our conservative principles” and that he will show leadership for the Republican Party based on conservative values and principles.

“He has done a good job standing up for us and I look forward to hearing what he has to say,” Salmon added.

State Central Committee Member Jamie Johnson said he expects “a rousing message that will inspire and motivate the grassroots of the Republican Party.”

Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker said he was pleased by the turn out for the dinner.  “I think it’s a great event and a great crowd.  We have a big mix of people here.  I’m looking forward to hearing from Senator Cruz about the current direction of the party and where he thinks it should be, “ Spiker said.

6:12p – Not much going on… sitting by BuzzFeed and Kathie Obradovich of The Des Moines Register is front of me.  Apparently there will be a press conference immediately following Senator Cruz’ remarks.  I am here as media, but I couldn’t avoid being interviewed… Mike Wiser of Lee Enterprises caught me for a few questions.  Going to grab by notebook and interview some folks.

5:40p – Talked with Steve Bierfeldt, the executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa, RPI has sold over 600 tickets for this event and it is sold out.  Right outside the ball room different U.S. Senate and Congressional campaigns are setting up.  Also we’re getting a taste of 2016 tonight, not only with Cruz, but I there is a presidential draft committee for Dr. Ben Carson.  Vernon Robinson, the campaign director of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee said he’s “waited 30 years to fight for our Republic" and is excited to be here in Iowa.

photo 1

If you want to watch online.  C-Span will be airing the Reagan Dinner live starting at 7:00p.

If you want to Tweet, please use hashtag #Reagan2013 (be sure to retweet me as well @shanevanderhart).

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