Last week, Mariannette Miller-Meeks launched a television ad in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race accusing Bobby Schilling of opposing President Donald Trump. 

The ad includes a clip from a past debate where Schilling said, referring to the Russia investigation, “I think they should have a special prosecutor.” 

They stated that he “supported Nancy Pelosi’s call undermine President Trump.”

The ad will air through June 2.

“Bobby Schilling pretends to be something he’s not. He was not in President Trump’s corner until it was politically expedient for him to do so. He likes to complain that’s it’s negative for anyone to use his very own words to show Iowans that he’s just a double-talking Illinois politician trying to resurrect his failed career by crossing the Mississippi River. I’d refer him to two famous Harry Truman quotes, ‘We’re not giving him hell, we’re just telling the truth and he thinks it’s hell’ and, ‘If he can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen,'” said Miller-Meeks campaign manager Austin Harris.

Schilling, however, did not call for a special prosecutor to undermine Trump, but to exonerate Trump. He believed had Sessions led the investigation into Russia; it would have kept the Russia narrative open even after the investigation. A position held by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as well as numerous other Republicans, so it begs the question, were they trying to undermine Trump as well? Does Miller-Meeks not trust those Republicans as well?

The ad is misleading voters, and it is also hypocritical considering Miller-Meeks called President Trump a “liar” and “corrupt” in a 2016 tweet. An individual replied to a tweet she sent sharing an article stating Hillary Clinton is unfit for president, asking her, “[D]o you believe Trump is fit to be President?”

Miller-Meeks responded: “[A]s fit as Hillary Clinton. Both liars & corrupt. He did it legally, she broke laws, used government position & hurt national sec.”

Candidates criticizing President Trump is not something that personally bothers me because, hello, I publicly stated I did not vote for him in 2016. I’ve criticized him numerous times since. (I’ve also praised him for a number of his policies.)

The Schilling campaign, understandably, jumped on this tweet.

Terry Schilling, Bobby Schilling’s son and campaign manager, asked, “Will she now claim she ‘mistweeted’ when she called President Trump a ‘liar’ and ‘corrupt’?”

That’s a fair question, asked in light of her campaign’s explanation of past statements. 

The Schilling campaign questions if she voted for Trump as she sent that tweet a month from the general election.

I don’t think one can assume that she didn’t, and that is not a metric I use to judge candidates.

However, I do have a problem with hypocrisy and misleading ads. 

Her campaign manager also misled voters when he implied Schilling moved to Iowa to “resurrect his failed political career.” The ad made a similar claim, but didn’t put it quite like that.

(Should a candidate, who lost three elections for this seat, criticize another candidate’s “failed political career”? )

Schilling moved to LeClaire in 2016 and had no intention to run for Congress. He did not decide to run for office again until U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack announced his retirement. Schilling built a house in LeClaire because his family wanted to move out of Illinois, period. Schilling also wanted to expand his pizza restaurant business into Iowa, and they are currently working on opening a fourth location in Comanche, Iowa. 

The Miller-Meeks campaign claims that Schilling’s attacks are “baseless,” and perhaps some of the hyperbole is. I will say pro-life skepticism of her campaign is far from baseless. 

I had the opportunity to interview Miller-Meeks on at least a couple of different occasions. She is articulate and incredibly smart, which is not surprising due to her educational background. What is surprising is how I’m told she misspeaks on the life issue.

During a podcast interview on December 3, 2019, I asked her to address pro-life activists’ past skepticism.

“Well, I think my record on this has been very clear. I’ve been vetted numerous times. I have been endorsed by Susan B. Anthony. I have been endorsed by Maggie’s List. I am pro-life. I am Catholic. Just my personal life, my children did Teenagers-in-Action in Preventing Pregnancy when they were in high school,” Miller-Meeks said.

I confirmed with Susan B. Anthony List never endorsed her in any previous election, and they have not supported her during this election cycle. 

Eric Woolson, her campaign spokesperson, told Caffeinated Thoughts at the time that Miller-Meeks misspoke. He said that Miller-Meeks filled out a survey of theirs in the past, and that is why the group came to mind during the interview.

I don’t see how someone confuses filling out a survey with an endorsement. 

She has received an endorsement from Maggie’s List in 2020; they are a group that endorses conservative women and doesn’t appear to be particularly focused on the life issue. 

The news that she touted herself as “pro-choice” when running for Iowa Senate in 2018 during an event with the Ottumwa League of Women’s Voters is far more troubling. 

When asked about the fetal heartbeat abortion ban, Miller-Meeks first said she wanted to defer to the courts. The prohibition was found unconstitutional at the district court level, and the Governor’s office decided not to appeal based on prior Iowa Supreme Court ruling.

“This is probably something that’s going to be challenged by the Iowa Supreme Court, and we’ll go forward, whether or not it will be upheld, we’ll know in the near future. And will it be a costly endeavor? Yes, it will. But sometimes when it comes to issues that are extremely challenging, that are controversial, and that create tremendous animosity on both sides, it is best that that be challenged, be brought up legislatively, have the people decide. And then if it’s challenging the court system, I think that offers resolution to people on both sides of the issue,” she stated.

To her credit, Miller-Meeks voted for the Sanctity of Life Amendment to the Iowa Constitution. That amendment, if passed, will state that there is no constitutional right to abortion or abortion funding within the state’s constitution. It doesn’t ban abortion, but it does make it harder for Iowa courts to expand abortion rights on the back of the Iowa Constitution. It also states the obvious because there is no right to abortion or abortion funding in the constitution. 

That amendment still needs to be passed in the Iowa House when they reconvene on June 3, passed again during the next general assembly, and ratified by a majority of Iowa voters. 

Still, the fact she deferred to the courts before this is something Miller-Meeks should explain. 

Then she referred to herself as “pro-choice.” 

“It’s difficult as a woman to face this issue. I’m also Catholic, I am pro-choice, but it’s a very sensitive issue. And when Roe v Wade was decided and even since that time, we have not done a favor to women. There are women who have had abortions who regret that they’ve had abortions and don’t know where to seek solace or help or support. And there are women who are caught in an untenable situation, that they’re looking for guidance and a resolution to their situation and the best thing for the day and their family to do,” Miller-Meeks answered. 

“Ultimately, as a doctor and a health care provider. I think these are decisions that are best left to providers, to doctors, and to patients. I don’t want the government in my health care decisions. And I think that that’s why it’s a good thing to bring it up and to be challenged. But it is a very personal issue. When I talk to people, I can tell you, women may support it or not supported, but they don’t think that abortion should be used as birth control. We need to continue to educate; we need to make sure that young women have available resources, both for birth control and the educational wherewithal to be able to prevent pregnancy,” she concluded. 

Woolson told Caffeinated Thoughts, again, that Miller-Meeks misspoke.

“Senator Miller-Meeks was speaking to the point that she is a pro-life Catholic when it came to her mind that some notable Catholic elected leaders are pro-choice. That prompted her to misspeak,” he said. “As a physician, she was emphasizing her belief that, regardless of the medical condition being discussed, doctor-patient conversations need to be private and free of government intervention. All doctor-patient dialogue is, and should remain private.” 

Really? She used abortion advocate lingo after stating she was “pro-choice.” Abortion advocates are the ones who always frame the discussion as one being between a woman and her doctor. 

So, sorry, not sorry, that explanation is a bunch of bunk. I also heard from several voters in her district that, off the record, she has referred to herself as “pro-choice” before, but 2018 was the first time it was recorded. 

So this likely was not a one-off instance. 

Is Miller-Meeks far to the left on abortion? No, she would have never voted for the Life Amendment if that were true. Does this particular instance explain why pro-life groups in Iowa never endorsed her? Absolutely. 

To date, she has never endorsed the fetal heartbeat abortion ban. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the life issue is not an area of conviction for her.

In a general election, pro-life voters may overlook that when faced with a choice between Miller-Meeks and an advocate of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand. In a primary election, those for whom the life issue is paramount have reason to doubt her commitment, especially when it is not politically expedient.

And Miller-Meeks has no one to blame but herself. 

3 comments
  1. I appreciate your article but must respectfully disagree with your point of view regarding the “Life Amendment”. True it states clearly that an abortion is NOT a right in Iowa, but does not clearly stop government funding. It says in layman language that the State is not required to fund an abortion. Not required leave open the option that it, the State, can or may fund it if it desires. A every weak and poorly worded amendment from my point of view.

    1. Having reported on this bill, it does state, unequivocally, that there is no right to taxpayer funding for abortion in the constitution. That wasn’t my point of view, that was articulating a fact. Both abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion could still be permitted by state law. It does not outlaw either, I never said that it does. What it does do is prevent the courts from finding a right within the Iowa Constitution.

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