Branstad issues statement on closing of the 2016 legislative session

Iowa-Gov-Terry-Branstad-by-Gage-Skidmore(DES MOINES) – Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today reflected on the legislative session by issuing the following statement:

“The future of our state is bright.  This year, we worked with the Iowa Legislature to build consensus and come together for Iowans on taxpayers’ priorities.   Over the next thirty days, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and I will carefully review the bills passed during the final days of the legislative session to ensure the budget balances, continues to fit within our five-year budgeting projections, and honors the commitments we’ve made in the past to the Teacher Leadership system and property tax relief.  We will adhere to the conservative budgeting principles that Iowans elected us to implement, and will continue to reject bad budgeting practices that led to reckless across the board cuts.

Just before my Condition of the State address in January, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I stood up with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and education and agriculture leaders from around the state and offered a bold plan to dedicate long-term funding for both water quality and education infrastructure in our state without raising taxes.  From the beginning, we offered this plan as a framework and welcomed ideas that others may have in addressing water quality.

The Iowa House of Representatives responded by approving bipartisan legislation, providing a distribution system similar to the one we recommended, while allocating more than $732 million over the next 13 years to water quality projects.  We worked closely with legislators on this proposal and supported the progress and approach that was taken.  However, we’re very disappointed that Senate Democrat leadership decided to bury the House bill with no debate and offering no alternative.  Water quality is a critical issue and we will continue to work to build support for a long-term funding solution to address water quality efforts in Iowa.”


Photo by Gage Skidmore

Ernst Honors Branstad as Longest-Serving Governor in American History

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released a tribute honoring Iowa’s own Governor Terry Branstad as he makes history as the longest serving governor in the United States.

Due to the Senate schedule, the Iowa Senator was unable to deliver remarks in person at the “Governor Branstad Longest Serving Event.” Click here or on the image below to watch the tribute which was played at tonight’s event.


“Hello everyone! I’m so sorry I could not be there to celebrate the remarkable achievement of my friend and our very own Governor, Terry Branstad. I wish I could join all of you, but unfortunately, votes have kept me in Washington, D.C.

“Today marks his historic milestone as the nation’s longest serving governor, with 7,642 days in office working for our great state of Iowa. And what a great job he’s done.

“I’ve known Governor Branstad for more years than I want to admit, but I distinctly remember one of our first interactions at a Red Oak Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet where he was the guest speaker.

“Governor Branstad and I spoke about the military. He is a fellow veteran himself and it was then that I saw just how much love he has not only for the military, but also for government service.

“The governor shared with me that while he was stationed at Fort Bragg as a young soldier, he would leave base during his time off to watch the North Carolina General Assembly from their viewing gallery.

“Even as a young soldier, Terry Branstad was interested in public service at the state level. Now look at all that he has accomplished for Iowa. 

“I also appreciate that he continues to wear his uniform for different veterans’ events in Iowa, showing his support, his leadership, and his commitment to our men and women in uniform.

“Our governor is someone who truly cares about serving others and we are incredibly fortunate to have a leader like him.

“Today, we honor his steadfast commitment to the people of Iowa.

“Congratulations, Governor Branstad and thank you for making Iowa a great place to grow.”

Last week, Senator Ernst also spoke on the Senate floor to honor Governor Branstad and highlighted his work on behalf of Iowa veterans.

Vander Plaats wouldn’t be the power player he is today without Huckabee

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 12.01.12 AM
Photo by Dave Davidson –

If you are just analyzing the 2016 presidential race, Bob Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Cruz makes plenty of sense. Yet having witnessed Vander Plaats’ 15-year political career, it’s safe to say that he would not be the “kingmaker” he is today without Mike Huckabee.

Vander Plaats didn’t just endorse Huckabee in 2008, he was part of the campaign from day one. He lived through April and May of 2007 when the buzz around Huckabee was that he should drop out and run for the U.S. Senate. Huckabee’s campaign was the last campaign to agree to participate in the Iowa Straw Poll. They feared the event would end the campaign, but instead, it rejuvenated it.

In 2007, Vander Plaats was a two-time loser. He had failed to win the Republican nomination for governor in 2002 and 2006. In 2006, Vander Plaats ended his primary campaign to join Jim Nussle on the ballot as the Lt. Governor nominee. The general election that year was brutal for Republicans.

There wasn’t much fanfare about Vander Plaats being Huckabee’s point man in Iowa, but as Huckabee surged in the months before the caucus, Vander Plaats got plenty of time in the spotlight.

Huckabee’s big Iowa win invigorated his supporters, and rightfully so. Socially conservative candidates like Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson had done well in Iowa, but they had never won. Huckabee didn’t just win, he trounced Romney, winning by almost 10,000 votes.

By the end of the caucus campaign, Huckabee was hinting around that Bob would make a great governor. And after the 2008 election, it was clear that Vander Plaats was eyeing another run. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay marriage in the state only cemented his decision to run.

Vander Plaats utilized Huckabee as a fundraising draw for his campaign in June of 2009 and February 2010, and even helped put together a fundraiser at Chuck Norris’ ranch in Texas. After another unsuccessful primary attempt, Vander Plaats transitioned to his current role with the FAMiLY Leader, and once again, Mike Huckabee was there to headline major fundraising events. Loyalty is a rare thing in politics, but over the past eight years, Huckabee proved to be incredibly loyal to Vander Plaats.

It’s hard to imagine Vander Plaats occupying the space he does today without the involvement of Huckabee.   It’s not that Huckabee went into his 2016 race thinking he had Vander Plaats in his corner, but seeing him endorse a candidate based on poll numbers and financial resources has to hurt, especially since Huckabee runs circles around Cruz on the issues that matter the most to Vander Plaats, namely the out of control courts and personhood.

EPA Lowers Renewable Fuel Standard Levels for or 2014, 2015 and 2016

EPA-Building-PlaqueSenator Chuck Grassley:

For months, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise and increase its proposed volume obligations for renewable biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, 2015 and 2016.  After hearing from Grassley and other senators, the EPA released a final rule today that improves the volume requirements over its last proposal but still underestimates the capacity for farmers and ethanol and biodiesel producers to generate enough renewable fuel to meet higher goals.  Grassley made the following comment on the final rule.

“This rule is a slight improvement but it still sells biofuels short.  The EPA just doesn’t appreciate that farmers and biofuels producers can generate enough renewable fuels to meet the goals set by Congress.   The EPA doesn’t seem to appreciate that the law on the books requires strong biofuels targets and that consumers like the chance to use alternate fuels.  Instead, the EPA took a flawed approach that seems to buy into Big Oil’s rhetoric.  The new rule is not only more than two years late, but it also sets back the development of next generation biofuels.  This rule undermines the efforts to commercialize the next generation of biofuels.  It’s unfortunate that this Administration, which claims to be for renewable and clean energy, would stand in the way of the production and use of more renewable fuels.”

Branstad, Reynolds release statement on EPA’s final Renewable Fuel Standard rule

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today released statements upon learning of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume obligation levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“I am extremely disappointed that the EPA’s final decision failed to follow the renewable volume levels set by Congress,” said Branstad.  “Unfortunately, today’s decision shows the lack of interest in providing consumers choice at the pump, creating jobs and increasing incomes in Rural America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  This rule falls far too short of a robust RFS and short of the standards set by Congress.”

“This entire process has negatively impacted Iowa families through reduced commodity prices, farm incomes, and farmland values,” said Reynolds. “We were hopeful that the EPA would fully recognize the importance of renewable fuels after years of regulatory uncertainty.  However, the EPA’s decision only marginally improves volume levels in a step that will hurt Iowa families, businesses, and farmers.”

The State of Iowa has supported both the production and use of biofuels, including renewable fuel infrastructure development through the Fueling Our Future Program and the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, to ensure that consumers have true choices at the pump.

Branstad and Reynolds have been engaged in calling for a strong and robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years.

Highlights of Iowa leaders’ engagement on the RFS include:

  • State and Federal elected officials, including Gov. Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds, participated in a “Defend the RFS” event.
  • Gov. Branstad traveled to Washington, DC, joining a group of Iowa farmers and biofuels producers, to testify at the Federal government’s only public hearing and met with EPA Administrator McCarthy.
  • Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Secretary Bill Northey and the entire Iowa congressional delegation sent a joint letter to Federal leadersadvocating for the many benefits that flow from the RFS.
  • Gov. Terry Branstad and Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) penned an op-ed in support of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Gov. Terry Branstad brought together a bipartisan group of six governors to sign on to a letter to President Barack Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their support for a strong RFS.
  • Leaders from across the Midwest joined Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds for their “Hearing in Heartland,” which was open to all interested citizens; 83 panelists from across the Midwest Region spoke from the heart about the importance of the RFS to their livelihoods and a healthy rural economy while only two individuals expressed opposition to a robust RFS.
  • Gov. Branstad, in his Condition of the State address, called on the Iowa Legislature to pass a resolution in support of a robust RFS. The Legislature unanimously passed bicameral, bipartisan resolutions calling for the EPA to reverse course and support a strong RFS. View the resolutions: House Resolution 101 | Senate Resolution 101
  • State of Iowa leaders submitted formal comments to the EPA with current data and analysis that provides Federal leaders the opportunity and obligation to revise their initial volume obligations upward.
  • Gov. Branstad joined Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO), in testifying at the EPA RFS hearing in Kansas City, Kansas
  • Lt. Gov. Reynolds participated in RFS event with Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE)
  • State of Iowa leaders again submitted formal comments in 2015 on the EPA’s revised RFS proposed rule
  • Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds underscored the importance of the RFS at the grand opening of Dupont’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa in October.


Farm Leaders Equate Ruling to a ‘Win’ for Big Oil, at the Expense of the American Farmer

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – November 30, 2015 – The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots general farm organization, expressed disappointment in the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) just announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The long-awaited and overdue 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets are years behind schedule and fall short of the agreed-upon levels farmers anticipated.  “While an increase of biofuels from the original proposed rule is welcome news, the simple truth is, this falls far short of promises made to Iowa farmers by Congress in 2007.  We know the EPA is using a flawed methodology to calculate the biofuels targets, which amounts to a win for Big Oil,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “What’s worse is this makes it apparent that the EPA under this administration is continuing its pattern of ignoring and violating Congressional intent, at the detriment of farmers and our economy, which is especially troubling in Iowa, where one out of every five jobs comes from agriculture.”

Critics have long argued that lowered RFS/RVO targets translate to a boom for Big Oil, because the industry stalled on distribution solutions which were carefully spelled out in the Energy and Independent Security Act (EISA) passed by the President and Congress in 2007.  “Production is there; the technology and innovation to grow biofuels is there, but once again, the EPA continues to disappoint the American farmer,” says Hill, a longtime corn, soybean and livestock farmer.  “Just know that IFBF’s support for innovation and energy independence is steadfast.  Our work continues.”

Santorum responds to Obama’s biofuels ruling

VERONA, PA – Republican presidential candidate, and proud supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard, Rick Santorum (R-PA) issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s regulatory overreach targeted at the biofuels industry.

Rick Santorum said: “Today’s decision by the Obama Administration is yet another example of this President using his regulatory power to ignore a clear congressional mandate, and break the law in the process. Let’s be clear, President Obama does not have the authority to change a congressional mandate. I support the ethanol and biofuels industry and stand by the mandate remaining the same because of the importance of supporting domestically produced energy. But regardless of what someone thinks of the RFS, conservatives and all Americans alike, should not stand by this President’s continued abuse of power.”

King Comments on Final RFS Volume Requirements

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 through 2016:

Jindal puts heat on Branstad to Defund Planned Parenthood in Iowa

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.22.26 PMRepublican presidential candidates often solicit Governor Terry Branstad’s advice when it comes to campaigning in Iowa, and the Governor eagerly obliges. This is especially true when it comes to offering advice to a fellow governor. These candidates are wise to let Branstad bend their ear, because not only has Branstad mastered the art of governing the state of Iowa, he’s quite astute when it comes to political campaigns in Iowa.

But now, we’ve witnessed the rare occurrence when one of Branstad’s Republican collegues offered to assist him when it comes to defunding Planned Parenthood.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal penned a letter to Branstad on September 23rd at the behest of The FAMiLY Leader. The letter explains how a governor can legally cut off taxpayer dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood.

Jindal explained that, after watching the first of the gruesome videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting organs and tissues from aborted babies, he directed the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to investigate the organization.

Jindal also requested that the FBI and Louisiana Inspector General’s office investigate the alleged wrongdoing of Planned Parenthood. Following the investigation, Jindal directed DHH to notify Planned Parenthood of the termination of their Medicaid contract in his state for cause. Jindal then made it clear that if Branstad had any questions, Jindal would welcome his call.

Jindal’s letter was made public after multiple Iowa newspapers quoted Branstad stating that it was not within his power to strip Planned Parenthood of the federal dollars. Branstad cited an opinion by the Iowa Attorney General, which is currently Tom Miller, a liberal Democrat.

This comes weeks after Branstad stated that Planned Parenthood receives no money to pay for abortions. While accurate, it seems that Branstad doesn’t really understand what exactly the activists in his party are advocating for, which is that any organization that is participating in the illegal selling of body parts should not receive ANY financial support from American taxpayers.

With the anti-establishment sentiment permeating the Republican presidential race, Branstad should be concerned about any backlash that may come his way. The FAMiLY Leader is also putting pressure on Branstad with a new TV ad that calls out the governor for his lack of action on this issue.

Christie Making A Play for Iowa?

ChristieIAJust how crazy is the 2016 presidential race? A four-term Republican governor with an impressive record of economic growth in one of the largest states in the country never found his footing and was quickly dispensed with. Another governor, who for months sat on the top of national and Iowa polls, was out before calendars turned to October.  Jeb Bush’s campaign was supposed to be a juggernaut, but besides its fundraising success, it’s been a boondoggle.

Now, some of the top financial backers of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad are throwing their support to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is currently polling in 13th place in Iowa, 9th place in New Hampshire, and 8th place nationally.

If Vince Lombardi is looking down on the Republican race for president, he’s probably barking, “What the hell is going on out here?” That’s a question that many political observers have been asking for months now.

In any other presidential cycle, a candidate in Christie’s position may be left for dead, but in the odd and unpredictable 2016 Republican primary, Christie is getting a boost by rolling out the endorsement of a handful of Republicans businessmen, who four years ago attempted to recruit Christie to run for President against Mitt Romney in 2012. But these businessmen didn’t immediately jump on board Christie’s 2016 candidacy.

The high-profile endorsements come at a pivotal time for Christie. While his poll numbers continue to lag, they have improved since the primary debates began. And even though Christie is a long shot to win the caucuses, the endorsements of Bruce Rastetter, Gary Kirke, Denny Elwell, Mike Richards, and Jim Kersten are also notable for no other reason than because of who they are not backing – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.

Christie’s ability to land these endorsements is likely the result of the effort he’s made in Iowa for the past six years. These individuals didn’t jump on a plane back in 2011 to encourage Christie to run for president on a whim. Even back then, they had had ample exposure to the New Jersey Governor because of his willingness to assist in Branstad’s 2010 campaign for Governor. But while Christie has invested time and effort to foster meaningful relationships in Iowa, the same can’t be said of the other establishment candidates in the race.

What these endorsements ultimately mean for Christie remains to be seen. In the last Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in late August, Christie had a 59 percent unfavorability rating, meaning that even an impressive slew of endorsement may not be able to turn things around for him in Iowa. If Christie were running for governor in Iowa, these endorsements would be incredibly impactful, yet in a presidential campaign, it’s yet to be seen how influential they will be in getting people to turn out to support Christie at the caucuses in February.

List of endorsers: 

Bruce Rastetter: Central Iowa agri-businessman, President of the Iowa Board of Regents, influential political donor and bundler.

Denny Elwell: Central Iowa entrepreneur and real-estate developer. Has numerous high traffic properties in Ankeny, which often sport political signs of the candidates he supports.

Gary Kirke: Well-known Des Moines entrepreneur, insurance, real estate, and currently operates three Iowa casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson.

Michael Richards: serves as the Vice Chairman of Kirke’s casino operation as well as being the Vice Chairman of Quatro Composites, a carbon fiber composite company.

Jim Kersten: Vice President of External Relations and Government Affairs for Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, and former Iowa State Senator.

Mikel Derby: Legislative Liaison for the Iowa Department of Transportation, was Terry Branstad’s driver in his 2010 gubernatorial primary, became Branstad’s executive assistant during the general election.



Photo by Dave Davidson –

Vice President Terry Branstad?

Iowa-Gov-Terry-Branstad-by-Gage-SkidmoreApparently the Governor is open to the possibility.

When you look up the word “governor” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Terry Branstad. This winter, Branstad will become the longest serving governor in the history of the country. The secret to Branstad’s longevity is that he understands the job. He governs the state instead of imposing his personal ideology on it.

Now when you look up “Vice President” in the dictionary, you will not see an image of Branstad associated with it. Let’s be honest. Can you see Branstad in a Vice Presidential debate? No. Can you see him giving a huge speech at the national convention? No. Heck, I don’t even know how he would hold up with all the strenuous schedule.

What I find interesting is not that Branstad is open to being the Vice President nominee, it’s that he would be open to leaving while in office. While I doubt he would be considered as VP, he could be a cabinet secretary or better yet a high profile ambassador. Branstad loves to travel, and he probably has the best ties to the Chinese government of anyone in the county. I could see him as the U.S. Ambassador to China. It’s a BIG job, but I can see him doing that before being I see him being Vice President.

Some have speculated that Branstad will not fulfill his entire term, which would make it possible for him to pass the baton to Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, making her the first female governor of the state. These rumors of a future national role feed into that speculation.


Photo by Gage Skidmore

Matt Hinch departing as Branstad’s Chief of Staff

hinch_portraitHinch steps down to pursue opportunity in private sector after nearly two years as Chief of Staff

(DES MOINES) – Matt Hinch, Gov. Terry E. Branstad’s and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Chief of Staff since October 14, 2013, today announced he is departing the governor’s office to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve as Governor Branstad’s and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds’ Chief of Staff,” said Hinch. “In Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, Iowa has two hardworking leaders who are passionate for building Iowa for the future. Leaving the office, the governor and lieutenant governor, and the talented staff will be bittersweet. I’ll miss the work of shaping policy that positions Iowa for continued growth, but I am eager to pursue my next career opportunity.”

Hinch is the second chief of staff for Branstad-Reynolds since they took office. Hinch succeeded Jeff Boeyink, who departed in 2013.

“Matt Hinch has been an exceptional leader for our office and will be greatly missed,” said Branstad. “I appreciate his leadership as we worked to address critically important issues like workforce training, student debt and improving Iowa’s infrastructure. Matt’s ability to build a consensus, analyze and manage complex issues, and offer a strategic vision for growth will serve him well in his next endeavor.”

“I want to thank Matt Hinch for his service as the Chief of Staff for our office. Matt’s tireless dedication and passion for advancing sound policy that fosters growth in Iowa have been the hallmark of his tenure,” said Reynolds. “I wish Matt all the best as he transitions to a career outside of state government.”

Hinch will the leave the governor’s office on Aug. 7, 2015. An announcement regarding his future will be made at a later date by his future employer. Hinch, 35, and his wife Ali, reside in West Des Moines with their two young children.

Rubio’s Iowa Campaign Has Some Work to Do

Photo by Dave Davidson –

By all accounts, Florida Senator Marco Rubio had a pretty good trip to Iowa this week. Hundreds of people attended his events in Windsor Heights, Urbandale, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa, Wilton, and Davenport. Rubio also picked up the endorsement of State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, the son of Jeff Kaufmann, the current Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

The younger Kaufmann is a former state chair of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans and worked on Governor Branstad’s 2010 campaign and Tommy Thompson’s 2008 presidential campaign. Last month, State Senator Rick Bertrand from Sioux City endorsed Rubio. Earlier this year, Rubio announced that State Senator Jack Whitver would be the chairman of his Iowa campaign.

At the conclusion of Rubio’s first extended trip to Iowa, Whitver noted that Rubio attended seven events and had seven huge crowds. There is plenty for Whitver and Rubio’s Iowa team to celebrate after a successful trip. It is evident that there are a lot of Iowa Republicans who are interested in Rubio, and they were eager to get a glimpse of him on the campaign trail.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told the New York Times that he gave Rubio the following advice on a recent phone call between the two: “There’s an old saying: ‘You never get a second chance at a good first impression, but even if you make a good first impression, you haven’t made the final sale.” Branstad added, “It’s a big state. Ninety-nine counties. Go to all 99 counties, and work it.”

That is the same advice that Branstad has given to other candidates, and it is advice that candidates like Rubio need to follow if they want to be successful in Iowa.

While on the surface it appears as if Rubio was working it in Iowa, a closer look at his campaign itinerary shows that six out of the seven events Rubio attended where hosted by other organizations, not his campaign team. Rubio headlined fundraisers for two state legislators and a happy hour event for a young professionals group, and he spoke at a conservative breakfast club in Des Moines, a political group in Cedar Rapids, and a county party organization in Davenport.

Now, Rubio was a major draw for all of those organizations, and getting your candidate in front of as many people as possible is job one of any campaign, but Rubio’s Iowa campaign team really only had to organize one of the seven events he attended over the three days he was in the state – a happy hour reception at a couple’s home in Ottumwa. Rubio hit five counties on his Iowa trip this week, but that only raises the number of counties he’s campaign in this year to eight. And of all the events Rubio has attended in Iowa this year, only three of them were organized by his campaign.

Even though some candidates are still formally announcing their candidacies, with the caucuses seven months away, this is the time when presidential campaigns are hosting their own campaign events. Headlining events for other organizations still happens, but typically that sort of activity is done when the caucuses are farther out. It’s not that you shouldn’t accept an invitation to speak at an organization’s event, but you would be wise not to fill your entire schedule with those types of events.

Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and heck, even Lindsey Graham have been holding their own campaign events in Iowa lately. When you hold your campaign events and are responsible for everything from turning people out to getting them to sign on to your campaign, events can be great organizational tool. In a race with 16 candidates, organizing down to the precinct level will be more important than ever.

The other problem with depending on other groups to host campaign events is that sometime people feel like they are not open to the general public. For example, on Monday, a lady contacted me through this website to ask if it would be okay for her to join her friends to see Rubio at the West Side Conservative Breakfast Club. I explained to her that the event was open to the public and encouraged her to arrive early. The problem with attending other organization’s events or headlining fundraisers is that it limits your audience.

So while the room at the Iowa Machine Shed was jammed packed on Wednesday morning, Rubio likely missed out on engaging with some voters because his campaign failed to host an event that all interested people would feel welcomed to attend. Garnering large crowds is great, but ultimately, the goal is to identify supporters who will go out there and encourage their friends, family, and collogues to join them in supporting a particular candidate.

There is still plenty of time for Rubio to get things organized in Iowa, but the clock is ticking. Branstad’s advice is was spot on. To be successful in the caucuses, you have to come early and come often. You have to make yourself available to voters, and they are not always going to come to where you are, so you may need to go where they are, and that takes time.

Rubio makes a great first impression, but the job of his campaign in Iowa is to turn all of the interest that’s out there for him into actual support. Rubio is competing for the same voters that candidates like Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Rick Perry are also vying for. Each of those campaigns are already up and running in Iowa. Having some airtime reserved for TV ads this fall isn’t going to be enough. It’s not good enough to be popular in Iowa. You need to be organized.






Another Pro-Life Setback – This Time Courtesy of the Iowa Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Good Luck! Take Care.

Those are the words that Dr. Jill Meadows of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland tells pregnant women over the internet after said woman has taken the first dose of a medicine that is designed to terminate her pregnancy. The woman is then instructed to take a second dose of medicine in 24 to 48 hours at home.

The first drug the woman takes is Mifepristone, more commonly known as RU486. The drug works by blocking the activity of progesterone, a substance the female body makes to help continue pregnancy. The second drug is Misoprostol, which causes contractions of the womb and expels the baby.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Iowa’s ban on Planned Parenthood’s practice of administering these drugs remotely via the use of a webcam consultation by a doctor violated the federal constitution’s prohibition of actions that create an undue burden to women seeking an abortion.

Planned Parenthood successfully argued that Iowa’s ban on telemed abortions was a “blatant attempt” to limit rural women’s access to a legal medical procedure. The Iowa Supreme Court’s rule may have cleared the way for Planned Parenthood to continue offering abortion inducing drugs to women via the internet, but the National Institute of Health is pretty clear that anyone who uses these drugs should be seeing a doctor throughout the process.

The NIH’s website states:

You will take three tablets of mifepristone at one time on the first day. Two days later you must go back to your doctor. If your doctor is not certain that your pregnancy has ended, you will take two tablets of another medication called misoprostol. You may have vaginal bleeding for 9 to 30 days or longer. Fourteen days after taking mifepristone, you must go back to your doctor for an exam or ultrasound to make sure that the pregnancy has ended. Take mifepristone exactly as directed.

Isn’t it interesting that the Planned Parenthood doctor gives women both medications and sends them on their way with just a “good luck,” when the National Institute of Health lays out a much different, doctor supervised, process? Technically, Planned Parenthood says they schedule a follow-up appointment two weeks after the initial visit. But they don’t schedule a visit two days after the initial pills are taken as the NIH mandates, and the doctor who demonstrated the telemed procedures Planned Parenthood actually uses didn’t even mention a follow-up visit.
We have been told for years that Planned Parenthood was a health clinic, not simply an abortion mill. Yet, when it comes to drug induced abortions, Planned Parenthood doesn’t seem at all interested in providing its patients care throughout what can be a painful process mentally and physically. They just simply dole out the drugs and send you on your way without stressing the importance of multiple follow-up visits.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision may have people at Planned Parenthood, “thrilled,” but most Iowans are troubled by process.   A March 2014 Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register showed that 66 percent disapprove of the practice.

Obviously, pro-life proponents are disappointed, and rightfully so. It’s clear that the Supreme Court thought that the Iowa Board of Medicine was politically motivated when they instituted the ban. It’s also clear that the Court doesn’t believe that abortion inducing drugs may require more supervision and consultation than other types of medicines that people pick up at their local pharmacies.

Chuck Hurley, the Vice President and Chief Counsel of The FAMiLY LEADER, talked about the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision with Jan Mickelson on WHO Radio shortly after the ruling was issued. As expected, Hurley was disappointed with the Court, stating, “Our Supreme Court can’t get the basics, that our laws are based on natural law as the Declaration [of Independence] says, the law of nature and nature’s God.”

In addition to saying that the ruling will result in the death of thousands, Hurley also took the opportunity to advocate for changes to the way Iowa nominates Supreme Court Justices. The Court is currently comprised of three judges who were appointed by Governor Tom Vilsack and four who were appointed by Governor Terry Branstad.

In Iowa, Supreme Court Justices are nominated by a judicial nominating committee, with members of the committee being appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. State law requires that a majority of the members on the committee be lawyers. The committee then submits to the governor a list of three applicants they deem to be the most qualified. The governor appoints one of the three judges that the commission nominates.

Hurley advocated that members of the judicial nominating commission should have to be elected by the people, not selected by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. Hurley also suggested that Governor Branstad could simply ignore the court’s ruling on the matter.

“In the short term, the Governor could say thanks for your opinion, but good luck enforcing it,” Hurley told Mickelson on Friday morning. Hurley’s statement is similar to the position that Bob Vander Plaats, who is now the President and CEO of the FAMiLY Leader, used in 2009 when he was running for governor. Vander Plaats proposed the idea that a governor could issue an executive order that would essentially overrule a court decision that he or she disagreed with. In 2009, Vander Plaats was commenting on the Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Hurley’s position, that the Governor could simply not enforce the Court’s decision, wasn’t very well thought out. The Court’s decision allows Planned Parenthood to continue a practice that was already in place. Michelson actually realized the reality of the situation and said, “The Governor would have to forcibly shut down the process at the clinics.”

Hurley then added, “We don’t enjoy a constitutional crisis, but that’s when a true leader shows his true colors.” Hurley also mentioned that the legislature could also act on the matter.

It should be no surprise that Hurley and the FAMiLY Leader would put pressure on Governor Branstad to act. However, the executive branch essentially acted by banning the practice through the Board of Medicine, but the action just didn’t withstand judicial scrutiny. One has to wonder if the Court would have ruled differently had the legislature passed a law banning the practice instead.

One of the reasons the legislature probably didn’t act on the issue is because the pro-life movement in Iowa continues to be split. On one side, there are pro-life advocates and groups that, in addition to seeing abortion being banned outright, also push for new regulations on the industry that would save lives. The other side of the pro-life movements actively works against any legislation that doesn’t outright ban all forms of abortion.

Tim Overlin, the Executive Director of Personhood Iowa, wrote the following on Facebook following the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling.

When will we stop spending so much blood, sweat, tears, time, treasure, and talent for such nonsensical scraps? They aren’t going to hate us any less or spew any fewer venom filled words at us if we just plain start with and stick to what we want: All life, no exceptions, no compromise…if that’s REALLY what we all REALLY want.

Besides the legislation requiring a doctor to preform an ultrasound on a woman before an abortion that was passed this year, the Iowa legislature has been unable to pass any of the other abortion restrictions that have been enacted in over 15 other states in recent years.

In an article for that touted the 231 pro-life laws that state legislatures have passed since 2010, Steven Ertelt wrote, “Electing pro-life candidates results in passing pro-life laws. Passing pro-life laws closes abortion businesses. Closing abortion centers saves babies from abortion.” That may be true in other states, but sadly it’s not true in Iowa.