Grassley Continues to Stand Firm

GRASSLEY FARMFloor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
The Pressure Strategy
Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mr. President,

We have a unique opportunity for the American people to have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court.  The American people should be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on this matter.

Our side believes very strongly that the people deserve to be heard and they should be allowed to decide, through their vote for the next President, the type of person who should be on the Supreme Court.

As I’ve stated previously, this is a reasonable approach, it is a fair approach and it is the historical approach – one echoed by then-chairman Biden and Senators Schumer and other senators.

The other side has been talking a great deal about a so-called “pressure campaign” to try to get members to change positions.

It’s no secret that the White House strategy is to put pressure on me and other Republicans in the hopes that we can be worn down and ultimately agree to hold hearings on the nominee.

This “pressure campaign,” which is targeted at me and a handful of my colleagues, is based on the supposition that I will “crack” and move forward on consideration of President Obama’s pick.

This strategy has failed to recognize that I’m no stranger to political pressure and strong-arm tactics.  Not necessarily from Democrat presidents, probably more from Republican presidents.

When I make a decision based on sound principle, I’m not about to flip-flop because the left has organized a “pressure campaign.”

As many of my colleagues and constituents know, I’ve done battle with administrations of both parties.

I’ve fought over irresponsible budgets, waste and fraud, and policy disagreements.

I’ve made tough decisions, and stuck with them, regardless of whatever pressure was applied.

The so-called pressure being applied to me now is nothing compared to what I’ve withstood from heavy-handed White House political operations in the past.  Let me say, by the way, most of that has come from Republican White Houses.

Just to give you a few examples –

In 1981, as a new member of the Senate, I voted against some of President Reagan’s first budget proposals, because they failed to balance.

I recall very specifically a Budget Committee mark-up of President Reagan’s first budget in April of 1981.

I was one of three Republicans to vote against that resolution because it did not put us on a path to a balanced budget.

You can imagine when a budget has to come out on a party-line vote, you can’t lose three Republicans. And three Republicans who were elected in 1980 on a promise to balance the budget did not go along with it. And what a loss it was for this new President Reagan that his budget might not get adopted by the Budget Committee.

We were under immense pressure to act on the President’s budget, regardless of the deficits it would cause.  But, we stood on principle and didn’t succumb to the pressure.

Just as an example, right after that vote, when it wasn’t voted out of the Budget Committee, I was home on a spring recess.  I remember calls from the White House.  I remember threats from the Chamber of Commerce-even interrupting my town meetings.

I also led the charge to freeze spending and end the Reagan defense build-up as a way to get the federal budget deficit under control.

In 1984, I teamed up with Senator Biden and Senator Kassebaum of Kansas to propose a freeze of the defense budget that would have cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the annual deficits.

At the time, it was known as the Kassebaum, Grassley, Biden, or KGB defense freeze.

We were going to make sure that across the board the budget was defensible.

For months, I endured pressure from the Reagan administration and Republican colleagues that argued a freeze on defense spending would constitute unilateral disarmament.

President Reagan had put together a less-aggressive deficit reduction plan.  We didn’t think it went far enough.

My bipartisan plan was attacked for being dangerous and causing draconian cuts to the defense budget.

I knew it was realistic and responsible.

I didn’t back down.  We forced a vote in the Budget Committee and on May 2, 1984, we forced a vote on the Senate floor.

Although we weren’t successful, this effort required the Senate and the nation to have a debate about the growing defense budget, including waste and inefficiencies at the Pentagon, and the growing federal fiscal deficits.

Despite the weeks-long pressure from conservatives and the Reagan Administration, I did not back down, because I knew the policy was on my side.

In this process, I stood up to pressure from President Reagan, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator John Tower, and many others.

I remember a meeting at the White House where I reminded the President that he had been talking through the campaign about the Welfare queens fraudulently on the budget. It happens that I reminded him that there were Defense queens as well.

I started doing oversight of the Defense Department.  It wasn’t long before evidence of waste and fraud began appearing.

We uncovered contractors that billed the defense department $435 for a claw hammer, $750 for toilet seats, $695 for an ash tray.

We found coffee pots that cost $7,600.

I had no problem finding Democrats to join my oversight efforts back then.

But, it’s interesting how hard it is to find bipartisan help when doing oversight of the current Democrat administration.

Nevertheless, on May 2, 1985, after a year of work to make the case that the defense department needed structural reforms and slower spending growth, I was successful.

My amendment to freeze the defense budget and allow for increases based on inflation was agreed to when a motion to table failed by a 48-51 vote.

A majority of Republicans opposed me, and a majority of Democrats were with me.  That didn’t matter, because I knew we were doing the right thing.

I went against my own party, and my own President to hold the Pentagon accountable, and I never backed off.

I had a similar experience with President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

In January of 1991, the Senate debated a resolution to authorize the use of U.S. Armed Forces to remove Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

I opposed it because I felt the economic and diplomatic sanctions that I voted for should have been given more time to work.

I was not ready to give up on sanctions in favor of war.

In the end, I was one of just two Republicans, along with Senator Hatfield, who opposed the resolution.

I was under pressure from President Bush, Vice President Quayle and White House chief of staff John Sununu.

I was even pressured by Iowa’s Governor, Terry Branstad.

I heard from a lot of Iowans, particular Republicans, who were disappointed, and even angry with my position.

Some were even considering a public rebuke because of my vote.

Being one of just two Republicans, it was difficult to differ with a Republican President on such a major issue.

But, as I stated at the time, my decision was above any partisanship.

It was a decision of conscience rather than a matter of Republican versus Democrat.

After a tremendous amount of soul-searching, I did what I thought was right, regardless of the political pressure.

The same is true today with regard to the Supreme Court vacancy.

Under President George W. Bush, I faced another dilemma.

The President and the Republican congressional leadership determined that they wanted to provide $1.6 trillion in tax relief in 2001.

I was the chairman of the Finance Committee.  The problem is, we had a 50-50 Senate at the time. The parties’ numbers were equal in the Senate and on the Finance Committee.

I had two members on my side who were reluctant to support a huge tax cut because they had concerns about deficits and the debt.

And, as we saw a few years later, their concerns were not totally unwarranted.  But, at the time, the administration and leadership would have nothing to do with it.

Except that the President wanted $1.6 trillion of tax decreases.  But obviously the President and the White House weren’t thinking anything about what Republicans might vote against it. And when you have a 50-50 Senate, you can’t lose a lot of Republicans.

After very difficult negotiations, I finally rounded up enough votes to support $1.3 trillion in tax relief.

A hailstorm of criticism followed.  There were Republican House members who held press conferences denouncing the fact that we weren’t able to achieve the whole $1.6 trillion.

Now, those House members were more professional in their criticism than we witness almost every day from the current Minority Leader.

But, it was still a very contentious and difficult period that included both the budget and reconciliation process.

Minority Leader Reid has also recently brought up the pressure I came under in regard to Obamacare back in 2009.

Of course, his version is his usual attempt to rewrite the actual history.

As the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee at the time, I was involved in very in-depth negotiations to try to come up with a healthcare solution.

We started in November 2008. We had negotiations between three Republicans and three Democrats on the Finance Committee. We met hours and hours, almost totally time consuming. So we met in November 2008, through mid-September 2009, and then they decided that they — the other side — decided they ought to go political and not worry about Republicans.

The Minority Leader, in his usual inaccurate statement of the facts, has tried to say Republicans walked out of those negotiations.

The fact is, we were given a deadline and told if we didn’t agree to the latest draft of the bill, then the Democrats would have to move on.

And I would ask anybody in the Senate who wants some reference on this to talk to Senator Snowe or Senator Enzi.  I was the other Republican.  Talk to Senator Baucus. Talk to Senator Conrad. And the then-Senator from New Mexico. The President called six of us down to the White House in early August 2009.

The first question I got was, would you, Senator Grassley, be willing to go along with two or three Republicans to have a bipartisan bill with Obamacare.  And I said, Mr. President, the answer is no because, what do you think we have been working on for nine months?  We have been working trying to get a broad bipartisan agreement. It’s something like 70-75 votes that we’re trying to get if you really want to change social policy and have it stick. We didn’t abandon this until 2009, but my idea is that probably it was that meeting at the White House in early August 2009, where this President decided we don’t want to mess around with those Republicans any more, we’ve got 60 votes, we’re going to move ahead.

Well, that happened in September. The fact is we were given that deadline and we were shoved out of the room.

So, when we didn’t bow to this pressure and agree to their demands, it ended up being a partisan document, and that’s why it still doesn’t have majority support of the American people. I want the Minority Leader to know that’s what happened, not what he described a couple of weeks ago.

Eventually, as we all know, the former Majority Leader, now Minority Leader, had his staff rewrite the bill in secret in the backrooms of his leadership offices.

And, we ended up with the disaster called Obamacare we have today.

The Senate Minority leader also recently proclaimed that rather than follow Leader McConnell, “Republicans are sprinting in the opposite direction.”

He also wishfully claimed that the Republican façade was cracking on the issue.

Senator Schumer fancifully stated, “Because of the pressure, Republicans are beginning to change.”

You can almost hear the ruby slippers on the other side clicking while they wish this narrative were true.

The fact is, the pressure they’ve applied thus far has had no impact on this Senator’s principled position.

Our side knows and believes that what we’re doing is right, and when that’s the case, it’s not hard to withstand the outrage and pressure they’ve manufactured.

This pressure pales in comparison to what I’ve endured and withstood from both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

400 Plus Tea Party Patriots From Iowa Rally Behind Grassley

Grassley listens to a question during the 2009 Reuters Washington Summit in WashingtonWhile some Republicans in the U.S Senate have softened their positions on whether or not hearing on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court should be held, Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee, has stood firm on his position not to hold hearings.

Now over 400 grassroots activists from Iowa have signed on to a pledge supporting Grassley’s position. Below is a letter being circulated by Tea Party Patriots thanking Grassley for recognizing that the Supreme Court will function perfectly fine with eight justices over the next ten months. The letter also encourages him to do everything in his power as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to block President Obama from putting one more Justice on the Supreme Court.

“Americans are looking forward to being part of this process and having our voices be heard in the November election before Justice Scalia’s replacement is confirmed,” the letter reads.



The Honorable Chuck Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

March 23, 2016

Dear Chairman Grassley,

I am writing to thank you for your commitment to upholding the Constitution and standing firm in opposing a confirmation hearing for any Supreme Court nominee President Obama makes during this lame duck period.

The Democrats often remind us that elections have consequences. Indeed, elections certainly do have consequences, but the Democrats would prefer to forget that the 2014 elections ever took place. Americans gave the Republicans the majority in the Senate, in large part because we wanted to make sure that President Obama’s reckless agenda would not be rubber-stamped during his last two years in office. Part of President Obama’s agenda now includes making his third appointment to the Supreme Court, but there simply is no reason to rush this process.

President Obama, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and others on the political Left are rushing to put another liberal Justice on the Court, and it’s easy to understand why. Replacing Justice Scalia, the Court’s most thoughtful originalist, with a progressive, “results-oriented” Justice would dramatically change the make-up of the Court, and would immediately change the outcome of several major upcoming decisions.

Thank you for recognizing that the Supreme Court will function perfectly fine with eight justices over the next ten months. Please do everything within your power as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to block President Obama from putting one more Justice on the Supreme Court. Americans are looking forward to being part of this process and having our voices be heard in the November election before Justice Scalia’s replacement is confirmed.


Joe Villirillo, Adel, IA
Louise Bernhardt, Akron, IA
garry klemme, Akron, IA
Kay Quirk, Alta, IA
Lyndal Bahney, Altoona, IA
John Cosner, Altoona, IA
Robert Pence, Altoona, IA
Charles Ainsworth, Amana, IA
Bill Leibold, Ames, IA
Michael Means, Ames, IA
Bruce Niehm, Ames, IA
Jerold Peterson, Ames, IA
David Rood, Ames, IA
monte toresdahl, Ames, IA
Ramona Wierson, Ames, IA
michael davies, Anamosa, IA
Dwight Axtell, Ankeny, IA
Keith Carlson, Ankeny, IA
Ksenia Gardino, Ankeny, IA
Pamela Havnen, Ankeny, IA
Phil Rekemeyer, Ankeny, IA
Martin Vogel, Ankeny, IA
Bill Mullin, Arnolds Park, IA
Keith Witzke, Arthur, IA
Kris Ennis, Asbury, IA
Carol Schmidt, Asbury, IA
Gene Hammons, Atalissa, IA
Max Argo, Atlantic, IA
Julie Pohlsander, Audubon, IA
Lotus Paulsen, Avoca, IA
steven johanson, Badger, IA
Melissa Banian, Bettendorf, IA
Larry Nissen, Bettendorf, IA
Ann Quist, Bettendorf, IA
Donald Keith Twite, Bettendorf, IA
Pamela Blackman, Blanchard, IA
Nell Moore, Bloomfield, IA
fred hawley, Blue Grass, IA
DENNIS Price, Blue Grass, IA
Steven Coe, Boone, IA
Pat Hastie, Boone, IA
Sandy Monen, Boone, IA
carol wiltsey, Boone, IA
Mary Wise, Boone, IA
Boyd Bonnett, Brooklyn, IA
Melinda Holder, Brooklyn, IA
Gary L Carlson, Buffalo Center, IA
Janice Kiewiet, Buffalo Center, IA
Dean Connelly, Burlington, IA
Todd Darnall, Burlington, IA
Carl J Lensgraf, Burlington, IA
Gary L Zachmeyer, Burlington, IA
Barbara Himes, Bussey, IA
Joseph Loesch, Calmar, IA
Ken Meiners, Carroll, IA
steve riley, Carroll, IA
Ash Kading, Casey, IA
Jim Burford, Cedar Falls, IA
Keith Coppage, Cedar Falls, IA
Eric Lawson, Cedar Falls, IA
Ralph Mentzer, Cedar Falls, IA
Eugene Schwickerath, Cedar Falls, IA
David Williams, Cedar Falls, IA
Ray And Linda Agrimson, Cedar Rapids, IA
Carl Clore, Cedar Rapids, IA
sheryl combs, Cedar Rapids, IA
Lance Greco, Cedar Rapids, IA
David J. Detwiler, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Kapler, Cedar Rapids, IA
Brett Lund, Cedar Rapids, IA
John McInerney, Cedar Rapids, IA
Dale Marvin Nordby, Cedar Rapids, IA
Sarah Pauley, Cedar Rapids, IA
Larry Pernicka, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Petermann, Cedar Rapids, IA
Myron Rupp, Cedar Rapids, IA
Yvonne Savoy, Cedar Rapids, IA
Elisabeth Wellington, Cedar Rapids, IA
Connie Whitmore, Cedar Rapids, IA
Gerald Janicke, Centerville, IA
Lee Schwerdtfeger, Centerville, IA
Myrna Ladwig, Chester, IA
Vanessia Oden, Cincinnati, IA
Dennis L Binder Jr, City not submitted, IA
Lawrence Boeckmann, City not submitted, IA
Christopher Brittain, City not submitted, IA
Mark Burkart, City not submitted, IA
Larry Clement, City not submitted, IA
Van Delashmutt, City not submitted, IA
John Dommerman, City not submitted, IA
Celene Eliason, City not submitted, IA
Grace Gabrielsen, City not submitted, IA
Ed Hardgrave, City not submitted, IA
marv johnson, City not submitted, IA
tom mace, City not submitted, IA
Doug Maxson, City not submitted, IA
Brian McKnight, City not submitted, IA
See McRemer, City not submitted, IA
Alan Meyer, City not submitted, IA
Don Miller, City not submitted, IA
Michael Nevins, City not submitted, IA
Leonard Pistek, City not submitted, IA
Alvin Rottinghaus, City not submitted, IA
Richard Steggall, City not submitted, IA
Dale Whitaker, City not submitted, IA
Martha Pauley, Clear Lake, IA
Robert Speakar, Clear Lake, IA
Allen Schmid, Clinton, IA
Cheryl Devoto, Clive, IA
Greta Kelso, Clive, IA
Patricia Liittschwager, Clive, IA
Wendell Ross, Colfax, IA
melodie applegate, Colo, IA
Betty Henderson, Colo, IA
William Tucker, Colo, IA
Gary Nielsen, Coralville, IA
David Clayton, Council Bluffs, IA
Craig Congdon, Council Bluffs, IA
Billy Daniels, Council Bluffs, IA
Edwin Daugherty, Council Bluffs, IA
Brad Elgan, Council Bluffs, IA
Mike Franks, Council Bluffs, IA
John Guehlstorff Iii, Council Bluffs, IA
Marjorie Matzen, Council Bluffs, IA
Max McCord, Council Bluffs, IA
Freddie Miller, Council Bluffs, IA
Joni Paez, Council Bluffs, IA
Lenny Scaletta, Council Bluffs, IA
James Shaw, Council Bluffs, IA
Pat Toscano, Council Bluffs, IA
Tim Moore, Crescent, IA
Joseph Villarreal, Crescent, IA
Stan Kepros, Cresco, IA
Jeanne Ruiz, Cresco, IA
John Botts, Cumming, IA
Donald Hawbaker, Dallas Center, IA
Lee Inghram, Danville, IA
Keith Avey, Davenport, IA
Shelia Clayton, Davenport, IA
Nancy Gronewold, Davenport, IA
Terry Honnold, Davenport, IA
Mark Jasper, Davenport, IA
Rayanne Moser, Davenport, IA
Roger Risch, Davenport, IA
Joe Speer, Davenport, IA
Terry Welty, Davenport, IA
Alan Yoder, Davenport, IA
Daniel Carolan, Decorah, IA
Thomas Hansen, Decorah, IA
Janice Tyler, Decorah, IA
Noel JOHNSON, Denison, IA
jim samples, Denmark, IA
Shirley Bird, Des Moines, IA
Paul Bisanti, Des Moines, IA
Wayne Brill, Des Moines, IA
Doug DeFord, Des Moines, IA
Thomas Dudley, Des Moines, IA
Darrell Ferguson, Des Moines, IA
William Hackley, Des Moines, IA
clifford hammers, Des Moines, IA
Marjorie Hansen, Des Moines, IA
Gary Lee, Des Moines, IA
James Leporte, Des Moines, IA
James Lyttle, Des Moines, IA
Vincent Meek, Des Moines, IA
Ron Quick, Des Moines, IA
Shirley Reiste, Des Moines, IA
David Ross, Des Moines, IA
Willia Sansenbach, Des Moines, IA
Rick Trim, Des Moines, IA
Frank Tursi, Des Moines, IA
Bob Wells, Des Moines, IA
Dennis Wilhelm, Des Moines, IA
Jena Merical, Dexter, IA
Theresa Huinker, Dubuque, IA
Janice Labonne, Dubuque, IA
John Muenster, Dubuque, IA
Jeffrey Robbins, Dubuque, IA
Julie Schilling, Dubuque, IA
Michael Stallsmith, Dubuque, IA
Scott Woywood, Dubuque, IA
David Kramer, Dyersville, IA
Dave KRAMER, Dyersville, IA
Earl and Jeanne McBride, Eagle Grove, IA
John and Norma Irwin, Early, IA
Teresa Meeks, Eldridge, IA
Darrell Rude, Eldridge, IA
Bill Hansen, Estherville, IA
Merle Dockendorff, Fairfield, IA
Dick Bries, Farley, IA
Jackie Williams, Farley, IA
Jingles Waterman, Fayette, IA
John Frank, Fontanelle, IA
marty daggett, Forest City, IA
Patricia Nessa, Forest city, IA
Donald Mack, Fort Madison, IA
Monica Stupka, Garner, IA
Donald Stupka, Garner, IA
jason reinke, Geneva, IA
Tom Demory, Glenwood, IA
Wayne Herman, Glidden, IA
Roger Harvey, Grimes, IA
Dwight Bisgard, Griswold, IA
Cara Hall, Grundy Center, IA
Mike Mikels, Harlan, IA
Karla Mikkelsen, Harlan, IA
Kelly Robinson, Harlan, IA
Dorothy Carrothers, Hedrick, IA
Bradley Lewis, Hiawatha, IA
DON DOLL, Hornick, IA
Kevin Kollbaum, Hornick, IA
Joseph Wilson, Hudson, IA
Lavonne Spaans, Hull, IA
Gary Hendricks, Humboldt, IA
Colleen Johnson, Humboldt, IA
Amy Dettbarn, Huxley, IA
rebecca dunbar, Indianola, IA
Michelle Fetters Steen, Indianola, IA
Ricky Halvorsen, Indianola, IA
Jay & Donna Drisen, Inwood, IA
Jacqueline Bienlien, Iowa City, IA
Richard Couch, Iowa City, IA
Sandy Lloyd, Iowa City, IA
Dianne Molander, Iowa City, IA
chad murphy, Iowa City, IA
Martin Wenck, Iowa City, IA
Bill Bonin, Iowa Falls, IA
Jerry Hitch, Iowa Falls, IA
Jean O’Malia, Iowa Falls, IA
Jim Furman, Johnston, IA
Joe Hamling, Johnston, IA
jeanne jennings, Johnston, IA
Jack Koopal, Johnston, IA
Michael Nelson, Johnston, IA
Kent Wildrick, Johnston, IA
Len Garrison, Kingsley, IA
Anthony Rothrock, Kingsley, IA
Bessie Gilmore, Kiron, IA
Joseph W Linton, Knoxville, IA
Terry Smith, Lake City, IA
Andy Leppert, Lansing, IA
Robert Fonder, Laurens, IA
Rick Kislia, Le Claire, IA
Leray Bleeker, LeClaire, IA
Ron Shepherd, LeClaire, IA
Davy Yoder, Leon, IA
Doris McElmeel, Lisbon, IA
D. Shon Fagan, Macksburg, IA
philip erickson, Madrid, IA
Michelle Bockenstedt, Manchester, IA
Richard Cordes, Manchester, IA
George Durey, Manchester, IA
David Gore, Manning, IA
Bruce VonSprecken, Maquoketa, IA
Anita Felling, Marengo, IA
Kenneth Connelly, Marion, IA
Randy Gardner, Marion, IA
Anita Hansen, Marion, IA
Terry Hanson, Marion, IA
Heidi Hepker, Marion, IA
David Knuth, Marion, IA
Marilyn Mark, Marion, IA
James McPartland, Marion, IA
Timothy Morrissey, marion, IA
Kathy Patterson, Marion, IA
James Sauer, Marion, IA
sherri shreeves, Marion, IA
Allen Tupker, Marion, IA
Doug White, Marion, IA
Bill Egleston, Marshalltown, IA
Leo Neva, Marshalltown, IA
K Cassel, Mason City, IA
Daryl Muilenburg, Maurice, IA Ebert, Missouri Valley, IA
Ladonna Retzlaff, Monticello, IA
Larry Davis, Montrose, IA
Bill Ward, Moravia, IA
Judy Ray, Mount Ayr, IA
Judi Collora, Mount Pleasant, IA
Don And Carol Walden, Mount Vernon, IA
Richard Nissen, Mt Pleasant, IA
Patriot Tobey, Mt Pleasant, IA
James Jensen, Muscatine, IA
James Phillips, Muscatine, IA
Tony Rickey, Muscatine, IA
Pam Wearth, Muscatine, IA
Jerald Nott, Nashua, IA
Steven Heerts, New Hartford, IA
Russell Truex, New Hartford, IA
Linda Abernathey, Newhall, IA
Ruth Rusk, Newton, IA
Marvin Hinrichs, Nichols, IA
Dave Lewis, North Liberty, IA
Jeanette Best, Norwalk, IA
Sandra Heckart, Norwalk, IA
David Case, Oakland, IA
Cheri Schmidt, Ocheyedan, IA
Thomas Smith, Ollie, IA
Karen Hahn-Brown, Osage, IA
Mary Burkheimer, Osceola, IA
James Peddicord, Osceola, IA
Tom Wales, Oskaloosa, IA
Kurt Uhlenhake, OSSIAN, IA
Gene Coombs, Ottumwa, IA
Paul Cremer, Ottumwa, IA
Paul Halferty, Ottumwa, IA
Dwight Paris, Ottumwa, IA
Dusty Proctor, Ottumwa, IA
Joan Braatz, Oxford, IA
Duane Schlabach, Parnell, IA
Michael Kraft, Pella, IA
Jane Stoulil, Pocahontas, IA
Joy Cummings, Prairie City, IA
Jean Irwin, Primghar, IA
Larry Hodne, Ralston, IA
Linda Braden, Red Oak, IA
Dan Castleberry, Robins, IA
Bob Groeneweg, Rock Valley, IA
Neil Blaas, Rockwell City, IA
Gary Clark, Roland, IA
Billy Williams, Roland, IA
Nancy Folkerts, Rudd, IA
Phillip W Filides, Sabula, IA
Lana Myers, Sac City, IA
Martin Pearson, Sac City, IA
Kevin Kirchgatter, Saint Ansgar, IA
Ellen Ross, Saint Charles, IA
Stephanie Kuperus, Sanborn, IA
Bradley Robinson, Sergeant Bluff, IA
Alvina Krikke, Sheldon, IA
Alyda Roetman, Sheldon, IA
Edwin Verburg, Sheldon, IA
Marcia Wassenaar, Sheldon, IA
Lila Breedlove, Shenandoah, IA
Russell Gordon, Shenandoah, IA
David Brame, Sidney, IA
Jamesq Abshier, Sioux City, IA
Seth Cottrell, Sioux City, IA
Foster Ellis, Sioux City, IA
Thomas Graham, Sioux City, IA
Valerie Hair, Sioux City, IA
Deb Hale, Sioux City, IA
Ricky Harris, Sioux City, IA
Linsey Lane, Sioux City, IA
Jose Leon, Sioux City, IA
Christopher Lybbert, Sioux City, IA
Stephanie McManigal, Sioux City, IA
Mark Nahra, Sioux City, IA
Ken Reuter, Sioux City, IA
Christa Carson, Solon, IA
Ron Melsha, Solon, IA
Richard Wojno, Solon, IA
William Harmonson, Spencer, IA
Barbara Tomlinson, Spencer, IA
Lori Birkland, Spirit Lake, IA
Leroy Sorensen, Stanton, IA
Donald Mahlow, State Center, IA
Bonnie Hach, STORM LAKE, IA
Karen Lonsdale, Stuart, IA
gordon strain, thor, IA
wayne patrick, Toddville, IA
Mary Tangeman, Toddville, IA
Michael Tangeman, Toddville, IA
W.L. Bland, Urbandale, IA
Shelley Cherry, Urbandale, IA
James Fitts, Urbandale, IA
Richard Freedman, Urbandale, IA
Donna Nelson, Urbandale, IA
Bill Pim, Urbandale, IA
Bob Thenhaus, Urbandale, IA
Warren Stueve, Van Meter, IA
Dean Van Gundy, Van Meter, IA
Kip Murphy, Ventura, IA
Lowell Hyett, Wapello, IA
Michael Cole, Waterloo, IA
Craig Hawker, Waterloo, IA
cheryl helmers, Waterloo, IA
Katrin Kuriger, Waterloo, IA
Larry Martin, Waterloo, IA
Gary Moser, Waterloo, IA
Jan Seeley, Waterloo, IA
Dale Thome, Waterloo, IA
Russell Watson, Waterloo, IA
Gary Buda, Waukee, IA
Michael Manley, Waukee, IA
Michael Manley, Waukee, IA
Julie Muselman, Waukee, IA
Beverly White, Waukee, IA
James Bieber, Waukon, IA
Betty Larsen, Waukon, IA
Cliff Green, Wdm, IA
Michael Boyd, West Des Moines, IA
David Creighton Sr, West Des Moines, IA
Paul Curran, West Des Moines, IA
Dan Custis, West Des Moines, IA
Cheryl Kutscher, West des moines, IA
Colin McBee, West Des Moines, IA
Mark Miller, West Des Moines, IA
Deborah O’Donnell, West Des Moines, IA
Marianne Wadle, West Des Moines, IA
Frank Ward, West Des Moines, IA
Jacqueline Garlow, West Union, IA
Wade Mackey, Wilton, IA
Lorri Schlueter, Worthington, IA
Richard Mahlow, Zearing, IA

Prepare for Battle: The 2016 Election Just Became Even More Significant

USSCThe untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia not only will change the makeup and demeanor of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it’s also safe to say that the ensuing nomination process to find his replacement on the bench will also significantly impact that the 2016 general election.

The impact of Scalia’s death instantly changed what had already been an unruly and unpredictable race for the Republican nomination for President. With the ideological balance of the court at stake, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell wasted no time on Saturday evening following the news of Scalia’s death in putting out a statement saying, “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will be in charge of the nomination process, echoed McConnell’s sentiment. “Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice,” Grassley stated Saturday evening.

The quick reaction of McConnell and Grassley meant that the battle lines were quickly established. In his brief remarks from California about Scalia’s passing, President Obama stated that he intends to fulfill his responsibility to nominate a successor, and added that he expects the Senate to fulfill its responsibility

These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone,” said President Obama. “They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our Founders envisioned.

If Scalia’s death does anything, it puts the 2016 presidential race into perspective. Regardless of which Republican presidential candidate you may favor, there is something much larger at stake – the balance of the Supreme Court. Republicans have already signaled that they plan to stall the confirmation process in order to allow whoever is elected this November to fill the vacancy caused by Scalia’s death.

Democrats were quick to call Republicans obstructionists despite Grassley and other Republicans citing the fact that no lame-duck president in recent history has nominated someone to be a Supreme Court Justice in the final year of his presidency. And while President Obama, Democrats in Congress, and their allies in the media will likely howl about the actions of the majority party in the U.S. Senate, they would do the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot.

Democrats may not like what’s about to transpire in Washington, but it’s about time that they are forced to take some of their own medicine. It was the Democrat Senate in 2009 that took a number of unprecedented moves in order to pass the Affordable Care Act. It was the Democrats in 2013 who enacted the “nuclear option” to change the long standing rules in the U.S. Senate so that the minority party could not filibuster executive branch nominations. The rule change, while controversial, did not apply to Supreme Court nominations.

Call it whatever you want -payback, poetic justice, or partisan politics, but when the balance of the Supreme Court is in play, you better believe it’s going to be a no-holds barred contest.

The Supreme Court vacancy will significantly alter the Republican presidential race and the general election that follows. Yet, regardless of who ultimately prevails, Republicans must be steadfast in their decision not to allow President Obama to replace to Justice Scalia, who served as the conservative cornerstone on the court for nearly 30 years with liberal jurists who surely will see no problem with a president who routinely acts outside of the boundaries set forth by the constitution.

Conservatives and Republicans need to prepare for battle. It’s going to be the most intense election in history now that so much is on the line.


Cruz faces Serious Scrutiny

Photo by Dave Davidson –

Texas Senator Ted Cruz might be the favorite to win Iowa, but it’s not been smooth sailing. Cruz showed he is committed to Iowa with a six day, 28-stop bus tour of Iowa last week. But despite the impressive crowds that came out to seem him on the road, he was repeatedly asked about his opposition to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), and later in the week, he faced questions about whether he is a natural born citizen and thus, eligible to be President of the United States.

It was Donald Trump who raised the question, and while the initial response was, “there he goes again,” Trump actually was careful in crafting his argument. Trump cited Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor from Harvard, who has stated in the past that the definition of a natural born citizen isn’t settled law because the U.S. Supreme Court has never taken up the issue.

“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question,” Trump said in Clear Lake this past Saturday. “Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years? That’d be a big problem.”

It’s a simple argument designed to make voters question how well they know Cruz. It is also a line of attack that may work better than you think because both Cruz and Trump are popular with white males who listen to a lot of talk radio, and thus there are probably a number of voters who may fall into the “birther” category. If they questioned Obama’s status a few years ago, they should be equally concerned about Cruz, regardless of whether he is one of their own.

There were a couple of good articles on each side of the issue worth reading.

The Washington Post published, Ted Cruz is not eligible to be president, on Tuesday. It is written by Mary Brigid McManamon, a constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School.

Last March, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement wrote, On the Meaning of “Natural Born Citizen,” in the Harvard Law Review.

Needless to say, campaign staffers of Cruz’s opponents are getting a good laugh over this. One name I’ve heard Cruz called is the “Cuban Canuck.”

One of Cruz’s new national co-chairs, Bob Vander Plaats, has in the past praised Trump for aggressively challenging President Obama’s nationality.

You remember just over a year ago, people were basically applauding Trump because at least he was being bold and saying some stuff that others just didn’t want to say. And even the deal of Obama’s birth certificate, whether people think that was ridiculous or not, at least he said, ‘Prove to us that you were born here.

Vander Plaats has also been recorded saying, “What kind of leader wouldn’t just show the birth certificate?”


Cruz isn’t just dealing with questions about the status of his birth. On Wednesday afternoon the New York Times published an article that stated that Cruz failed to disclose that he received more than a million dollars in loans from Goldman Sachs for his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. Cruz’s wife works for Goldman Sachs.

His wife’s employment with the big investment firm and the fact that he borrowed money for the company doesn’t square with Cruz’s tea party persona.

How will this play in Iowa? Ironically, we just had a Republican U.S. Senate candidate who also worked for Goldman Sachs. Let’s just say he wasn’t really embraced by the grassroots. In the 2010 Republican Third District Congressional primary, a Des Moines Tea Party group alleged that this candidate had been “instrumental” billions of bailout money for a big bank, despite the fact he was just a local financial advisor.

Again, the underlying question in all of this just a couple weeks before the caucuses is, do we really know who Ted Cruz is?

These issues will likely come up in tonight’s Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina and in the Iowa debate later this month. It also has some people wondering if Cruz is experiencing a similar vetting to what Newt Gingrich went through in 2012. At this point four years ago, Gingrich led the polls in Iowa by an average of eight points. He finished a distant fourth in the caucuses.

Cruz has a much more robust and disciplined campaign than Gingrich ever had, but the issues he’s dealing with are substantial.

Yes. Cruz is a Hypocrite When it Comes to the RFS and Big Oil

Photo by Dave Davidson –

Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is demanding that a radio ad being run by America’s Renewable Future be taken down because he says it’s inaccurate.

The ad, entitled “Hypocrite,” states “Politicians like Ted Cruz support subsidies for big oil, but want to end support for ethanol.” Rick Tyler, Cruz’s national spokesman, told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday, “It is blatantly false to suggest that Sen. Cruz wants to end the Renewable Fuels Standard while maintaining subsidies for oil. Cruz has repeatedly stated that he would end all energy-specific subsidies, both ethanol and oil among others.”

Blatantly false? Hardly.

While it’s true that Cruz has been consistent in his opposition to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), a policy that sets the minimum amount of renewable fuels that are required to be sold in the United States, it’s the Senator’s claim that he also supports cutting off subsidies to the oil industry that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Cruz was directly asked about how, in one breath he can oppose the RFS, but in the next, advocates for subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Cruz was confronted at the Iowa GOP’s Growth and Opportunity event on October 31st at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Once again, Cruz clearly stated his position that all subsidies should be eliminated.

Cruz added, however, “When it comes to picking winners and losers, we also shouldn’t pick losers. A lot of what are called subsidies in the oil and gas industry are analogous to ordinary business deductions that every other industry gets.

Cruz was specifically asked about the Intangible Drilling Cost deduction that allows the oil and gas industry to immediately deduct the cost of preparing and drilling a new well. This special tax deduction includes everything from wages, supplies, and fuel, to site preparation. In total, it can account for over two-thirds of the cost of a new oil or gas well.

The ability to immediately deduct those expenses is a huge tax advantage that other non-oil and gas companies don’t receive. Non-oil and gas companies are only allowed depreciate capital expenses over a period of time based on the type of asset. Non-oil and gas companies are also capped on how much they can deduct, which is not the case for the oil and gas industry that has no limit on how much it can immediately deduct.

This preferential tax treatment that only the gas and oil industry receives will cost taxpayers $13.7 billion over the next ten years according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. And that’s just one of seven special subsidies the oil and gas industry receives. Taxpayers for Commonsense estimates that if subsidies for just the oil and gas industry were eliminated, taxpayers would save at least $65 billion over the next ten years.

Cruz has often referred to the RFS as a “subsidy,” but it is not. While it is a mandate on the oil industry to blend a certain amount of fuel with renewable alternatives like ethanol, it doesn’t cost federal taxpayers or the federal government a dime.

So, is Cruz a hypocrite for supporting over $65 billion in tax incentives for the gas and oil industry for the next ten years while at the same time advocating against a policy that encourages the use of a domestic fuel that’s cleaner for the environment that also doesn’t cost taxpayers anything?

Yes, clearly Cruz has a double standard.

It’s also somewhat ironic to listen to Cruz put a new twist on the argument that the government shouldn’t be picking winners or losers. In this case, he is talking about how the government should not take away something from the oil and gas industry. Ironically, this week the EPA implemented an administrative rule that subverted a law passed by Congress when it lowered the percentage of renewable fuels being blended from 15 to 10 percent.

The EPA and the Obama administration seem to be picking the oil and gas industry as a winner while Iowa farmers and the renewable fuels industry are the big losers. On this issue, Senator Cruz is standing shoulder to shoulder with President Obama, the EPA, and his home state’s special interests.

Ernst Highlights Failures Within President’s Iran Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This evening, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) took to the floor of the United States Senate to highlight the significant failures within the President’s nuclear deal with Iran, and called on Congress to reject the President’s deal.


As we come together and debate President Obama’s agreement on Iran, I believe it is one of the most consequential national security decisions we may ever face. I have heard my peers talk many times about the things that trouble them. The things that they fear. The “things that keep us up at night.” And I will tell you that this nuclear agreement is one of those things that keeps me up at night, as a mother, as a grandmother, and as a soldier. Having proudly worn our nation’s uniform for over twenty years, and having deployed to the region, I can tell you that protecting and defending this country is something that I take very seriously, and very personally.

I had hoped our President would approach the American people with a deal that reflected the high ground our nation has stood on against Iran for decades.

Unfortunately, now that I have seen the available details, I believe the President has not negotiated a good deal with Iran.  The agreement before us fails to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program and does not end Iran’s support of terrorism. The President has squandered his opportunity to enhance our national security, and the security of our Israeli and Arab allies by failing to live up to his own goal of ending Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon.

The Administration is asking the American people to accept a deal which will—at best—freeze Iran’s nuclear program for eight years.

And that’s if the Iranians actually live up to their end of the bargain. One of the major failures in this deal is the lack of anytime, anywhere inspections to ensure that they do.

In April, the President’s own Secretary of Energy—Dr. Moniz—a nuclear physicist who the President often refers to as a leading authority on nuclear programs, he said, and I quote, “we expect to have anywhere, anytime access,” end quote, when referring to what our country needed to ensure Iran was abiding by a nuclear agreement.

Well, how can we ever be certain of compliance if Iran decides to cheat and we have a weak inspection regime as part of this deal? I would argue that we can’t.

Another part of this debate that has been very troubling to me is that the President continues to tell the American people there are only two options: his agreement or war.  During one of his major speeches on this deal, he actually mentioned the word “war” 50 times in an attempt to hammer this false choice home.

Despite this misinformation campaign designed to pressure the American people into agreeing on a bad deal, our military leaders and distinguished former Administration officials clearly denied that our choice is either support the deal or go to war with Iran.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, disagreed with the President’s assessment that the American people face a choice of supporting the agreement or going to war with Iran.

Later that same week, the President’s pick to lead the United States Navy, said war was not the only alternative and that  “we need to use the full set of capabilities that the joint force and the Navy can deliver to deter that. And the military contribution is also just a subset of a ‘whole of government’ approach along with our allies in the region.”

And it’s not just leaders within our military saying this. General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, said, quote, “There is no necessity to go to war if we don’t sign this agreement. There are actions in between those two extremes.” End quote.

Dr. Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “I would echo that …” during the same hearing.

Ambassador Edelman, a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Ambassador to Turkey, said “..I agree with you, I don’t think those are the only alternatives.”

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, a former top US negotiator with Iran on its nuclear program and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said “I don’t believe that war would be inevitable…”

Rather than misrepresenting the facts and our country’s options, I challenge supporters of this agreement to explain to the American people why they are supporting a flawed and bad deal today when we should be putting our citizens’ interests and their security first.

I’d also note that this Administration was willing to leave the negotiating table without securing an end to Iran’s support of terrorism. Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror—and we are giving them a free pass in this deal to continue those efforts.

In addition to the billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which leaves Iran poised to double-down on its support of terrorism, the president also agreed to lift the UN arms embargo for advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.

As a veteran of Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom—I am beside myself, as are many other Americans who served in Iraq, regarding the President’s support for sanctions relief for one terrorist in particular—the leader of Iran’s elite covert force, the Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani.

General Soleimani is directly responsible for the deaths of several hundred of Americans and the wounding of thousands more during the Iraq War.

Throughout the Iraq War, we lost many Americans killed in action and many more wounded by Iraqi Shia militia who were supported or controlled by General Soleimani.

In 2010, Ambassador James Jeffrey, then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, said, “Up to a quarter of the American casualties and some of the more horrific incidents in which Americans were kidnapped…can be traced without doubt to these Iranian groups.”

One of the signature tools to attack American servicemembers was an Improvised Explosive Device IED known as an Explosively Formed Penetrator or EFP.

These EFPs were provided by Iran exclusively to groups they controlled in order to kill Americans.  If you ask American servicemembers who served in Iraq during the war—they will tell you these types of IEDs used by Iranian supported Shia militias were some of the most deadly and devastating types emplaced by any of the Iraqi insurgent groups—including al Qaeda in Iraq.

While many of my colleagues share the concern regarding General Soleimani and Iran’s targeting of Americans during the Iraq War, we seldom hear from Americans who have firsthand experience in fighting these Iranian supported Iraqi Shia militias.

My staff recently spoke to a currently serving U.S. Army officer, originally from Waterloo, Iowa, who deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division on a 15-month deployment to Iraq during the Surge.  This Iowan described to us the impact Iran’s effort in Iraq had on him and his tank platoon in Baghdad, saying, “the threat of EFPs was quite real during our deployment to Iraq. And I’m quoting him. Understanding the pipeline from Iran into Iraq, the abundance of the munitions and the lethality on US Forces, the sense of peril never left [our] psyche. While I was never fearful of losing a limb, I knew if I was struck, I would follow certain death, one that I welcomed ten months into a fifteen month deployment.” End quote.

Removing sanctions on Soleimani is an embarrassment for this Administration and in the words of some of our Iraq veterans, “a slap in the face.”

And then there’s Luke, a retired Army servicemember with the storied 101st Airborne Division. While on patrol during the division’s second tour to Iraq, Luke lost his leg in combat after his vehicle was hit with an Iranian made EFP.  He told us that, quote, “We come home blown up and try to put our lives back together, only to hear that our country is going to be lifting sanctions that will free up billions for Iran to kill more innocents. We may not be at war with them, but they’re at war with us. I’m a wounded veteran and I spend a great deal of time helping other guys like me. I can assure you that this deal directly affects us. It’s a slap in the face to all veterans. All those who served…” End quote.

We owe it to veterans and our current servicemembers who have sacrificed to stop Iran’s support of terror. I urge the President and my colleagues to consider Iran’s true intent, and not to underestimate Iran’s will to enhance its capability to destabilize the Middle East, threaten American security, and the security of our allies in the region and around the globe.

Mr. President, in closing, the decision we make on this agreement will have lasting results for our nation, the world, and future generations of Americans. I urge all of my colleagues to reject the President’s bad deal and put the security of the American people, our allies, and the global community first. Thank you Mr. President, I yield back the floor.


Democrats may play chess, but the 2016 Republican race is more like college football

Bush IA
Photo by Dave Davidson –

“The wise man is one who knows what he does not know,” Lao Tzu

It took me a while to figure that out for myself. In fact, after spending ten days in South Carolina before the 2012 presidential primary, I realized that I’m clueless when it comes to politics in that state. I also never pretend to understand the thinking of my Democrat friends.

Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to President Obama, penned an op-ed that CNN published on Tuesday. The article was titled, “If Jeb wants to win, he should play chess.” It could have also been titled, “Jeb should skip Iowa and focus on winning New Hampshire.”

The article essentially states that Bush should heed the advice that Clinton’s staff gave her in 2008 – abandon Iowa and focus on winning in New Hampshire. The notion that Bush should skip Iowa isn’t exactly new. Back in March, the Bush campaign itself went out of its way to make it clear that winning Iowa wasn’t a necessity in their quest for securing the Republican nomination.

Pfeiffer’s piece is a decent read, but it does contain some monumental errors. My favorite is this gem. “In 2012, Romney bet big on Iowa, spending a lot of money and time in the state, only to lose narrowly to Santorum. As a consequence, he was weaker in the later states, which extended the primary campaign far longer than he wanted, hurting his chances in the general election.”

Romney bet big on Iowa in 2008, not 2012. In 2012, he avoided Iowa like it was a plague. Eventually, Romney would engage in Iowa, but it wasn’t until the winter when the polls indicated that he could win Iowa despite his lack of a presence there. Romney went for it and campaigned hard in Iowa for the final push before the caucuses. Romney’s 2012 strategy was brilliant. And let’s be honest, it worked. Heck, he left the state victorious. Even though Santorum was declared the winner weeks later, Romney got everything he needed out of Iowa in 2012.

So, would it be wise for Jeb Bush to skip Iowa? Of course not.

Let me explain.

Just because Bush might not win Iowa doesn’t mean he should just skip Iowa all together. Winning is important, but who you beat is actually more important. For example, if Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee finishes first in Iowa, it wouldn’t send the Bush campaign into chaos if they finished in second place. In fact, it would be an easy result for their campaign to spin. Instead of focusing on who he finished behind, the media would be smart to point out that he beat candidates like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and so on.

Political pundits, media outlets, as well as activists always seem to look at things from 30,000 feet instead of up close. They see a field of candidates that totals 17 people. They see the possibility that Bush, someone from a modern political dynasty, could lose to Scott Walker, or worst yet Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Jeb Bush isn’t running against Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, or even Donald Trump. It’s kind of like football and the different conferences. Candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio play in the SEC. This has typically been the top conference in college football. This is where you expect the national champion to come out of every year. If Bush, Walker, and Rubio were SEC schools, Bush would be Alabama, Walker would be Missouri, and Rubio would be LSU. There are more than three schools in the SEC conference, but not all of them are heavy weights year in and year out. This is the same conference where Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki play.

When you look at the current polls and keep in mind what conference Bush is competing in, things suddenly don’t look so bad. In Iowa, Bush trails only Walker in his conference. In New Hampshire he leads Walker and the rest of the field. What about Trump? Well, he’s like Notre Dame. He has national fan base, lucrative TV contracts, and big expectations every year. Despite having all the advantages in the world, they last won a national championship in 1988. That’s 27 years ago.

If you take Trump out of the mix, would anyone advocate that Bush should give up on Iowa because he’s currently in second place behind Walker? Walker is unproven as a national candidate, and he doesn’t have the fundraising machine that Bush enjoys. If you surrender Iowa to him, you are just creating a bigger monster to slay down the road. Another possibility is that you give life to someone like Marco Rubio, who currently seems to be a candidate without a strategy or an early state he can win.

Since we are discussing polls, I feel that I should share my number one rule in politics. Any campaign that is obsessing about poll numbers six months before an election is doomed to fail. It doesn’t matter if you are leading in the polls or struggling. The smart campaigns ignore the polls and follow their own campaign strategy. The simple truth is that if you are running for president, you need to plant your flag in Iowa, New Hampshire or both. Yes, South Carolina plays a pivotal role, but you have to do something before you get there. Just ask Rick Perry how his South Carolina firewall worked for him in 2012.

In the presidential nomination fight, it’s as important to finish ahead of the other teams in your conference as it is to win an early contest outright. Trust me, in the end it will come down to one candidate in the SEC division, one candidate in the Big Ten, and one candidate in the ACC. It is also possible that Trump is in the mix as well.

The 2016 Republican primary fight will be nothing like the 2008 Democrat contests because there are so many Republican candidates running. Even though John Edwards ran strong in Iowa, everyone and their brother knew it was essentially a head-to-head matchup between Clinton and Obama. The rules of a head-to-head matchup don’t apply to a multifaceted contest.

In my opinion, Bush would be a fool to abandon Iowa because it will only help Walker or give life to another candidate in his own conference. Things look pretty rosy for Walker in Iowa today, but eventually he will have to fend off candidates like Huckabee, Cruz, and even Carson. The way I see things, Bush currently has the moderate establishment vote all to himself and the only one he has to keep an eye on is Rubio.

If anyone cares, here are my Republican football conferences.

SEC Teams

Jeb Bush – Florida Gators
Scott Walker – Missouri Tigers
Marco Rubio – LSU Tigers
Chris Christie – Georgia Bulldogs
John Kasich – Arkansas Razorbacks
Rick Perry – Texas A&M
Lindsey Graham – South Carolina Gamecocks
George Pataki – Vanderbilt Commodores

The Big Ten

Mike Huckabee – Wisconsin Badgers
Ted Cruz – Nebraska Cornhuskers
Bobby Jindal – Iowa Hawkeyes
Rick Santorum – Northwestern Wildcats


Donald Trump – Notre Dame


Rand Paul – Louisville Cardinals
Ben Carson – Clemson Tigers
Carly Fiorina – Boston College Eagles


Jim Gilmore – Utah State Wolverines

Graham: “Obama is misjudging the Ayatollah the way people misjudged Hitler”

Lindsey Graham
Photo by Dave Davidson –

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham might not have the standing in the national polls to make the main stage at Thursday night’s Fox News debate in Cleveland, but when it comes to national security and foreign affairs, nobody who made the cut is as experienced as he is on what is likely to be one of the major issues of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Graham was in Iowa on Friday to launch his “No Nukes for Iran” tour. The tour is designed to build the necessary support to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal the Obama Administration recently negotiated that Congress is beginning to debate. interviewed Graham about the nuclear agreement on Friday morning before his town hall meeting in West Des Moines.

“This is a disastrous deal,” Graham told “It’s technically unsound.” Graham also explained that the side agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran about access and inspection to their military facilities to determine how far along they have gotten in developing a nuclear weapon is a joke.

“It’s secret,” Graham stated. “We will never know about it, but the Iranians are bragging about how they cut off access to their military sites.”

“The last thing I’d do as president is give the Iranians more money and more weapons until they change their behavior,” Graham added.

Graham is known for prowess on foreign policy matters, so it was no surprise that the fifteen minutes or so that got to spend with Graham on Friday focused on the Obama Administration’s new deal with Iran.

Below are some segments of the interview.

What’s the current status of the Iran deal in Congress?

Bottom line is, we get sixty days to review the deal. We had hearings already. We will be voting sometime in September.

Here is what the vote is really all about. If you get 60 votes to disapprove the deal in the Senate, then the waiver the President enjoys in the current congressional sanctions is eliminated. There is not going to be approval of the deal. The only question is, can we get enough votes to disapprove the deal to override a veto? That’s the only question. If we disapprove the deal, it means that the national security waiver is eliminated, which means the President can’t do as much damage.

What would happen if Israel launched a preemptive strike against Iran? How would the current administration respond?

I doubt that Israel would do that right now because the world community has come together and blessed this deal.

Here’s my problem with the deal. You are ensuring that Iran gets a bomb, a missile to deliver it, and money to pay for all of the above. This is a dangerous, bad deal that puts us in a box. Every political party in Israel and their current government is opposed to the deal.

Graham’s Three Questions to the Obama Administration

I asked three questions that I thought were important.

I asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have they been trying to build a bomb for the last 20 years or a nuclear power program for peaceful purposes? He said a weapon. I agree.

I asked the Secretary of Defense, who is in charge of Iran? Who’s the commander and chief? The answer is the Ayatollah. Who decides if they go to war? The Ayatollah. Who decides if they break out? The Ayatollah.

I asked the Secretary of Defense the following.

If they have been trying to build a weapon, for what purpose? Do you believe that the Ayatollah is compelled by his religious beliefs to destroy Israel and attack us, because he’s also the keeper of the faith as well as their head of state?

He says, I don’t know. Well let me tell you, you shouldn’t do a deal with Iran until you can answer that question. 

I think he is compelled by his faith to develop a nuclear program and one day share that technology with terrorists or use it in a direct fashion against Israel and eventually us, because under the tenants of the Islamic faith that he practices, the state of Israel cannot exist.

Was the President’s response to Mike Huckabee’s statement a precursor of things to come for those who don’t support the deal?

I think the analogy that Mike used was inappropriate. I like Mike a lot. He’s very pro-Israel, he’s a good man, but I’m not accusing President Obama and John Kerry of walking the Jews to the ovens.

I’m accusing them of negotiating a very bad deal with a very dangerous man and not understanding the times in which we live. You know, the Munich agreement would have made sense if Hitler truly only wanted to get German speaking people under the same umbrella. If he really wanted to create a master race, it was the blunder of all time.

The question for us is, do the Iranians want a nuclear program for peaceful purposes? If they got a weapon, what would they do with it? Is it a religious theocracy that’s motivated by a religious ideology to attack Israel and attack the United States? If the answer is yes, then it’s a terrible deal.

I think Obama is misjudging the Ayatollah the way people misjudged Hitler. Hitler at least lied about what he was going to do. He told them, ‘I don’t want any more, just give me half of Czechoslovakia, and I’m good to go.’ The Ayatollah, within days of signing the deal, announced his expressed hatred of the United States and [desire for] the destruction of Israel.

Is the deal with Iran today similar to the deal with North Korea in the 1990’s?

I think it’s worse in a couple ways. The same person who brought us the North Korea deal negotiated the deal itself. This deal takes the breakout time from two months to a year if they don’t cheat. At the end of 15 years no restrictions on their enrichment program, and they can actually repurpose, which is a stunning mistake.

Just by the mere passage of time, Iran will have an industrial sized enrichment program with the repurposing component with no limitations in terms of what they can do. You give the Ayatollah a hundred million dollars of sanction relief without any requirement that he has to change his behavior regarding Israel, the United States, or the region as a whole. You lift the U.N. weapons embargo on the conventional side in five years. Giving him more money and more weapons to further destabilize the Middle East. After eight years, they can start research and development of the ICBM program.

What does voting no on this deal really mean?

If you vote no on the deal, you allow the congressional sanctions to stay in place, giving the next president, whoever he or she may be, a chance to get a better deal.

If a French or German company wants to business with Iran and the congressional sanctions remain in place, they are denied access to American banking. Our sanctions do matter.

My goal is to get a better deal. It’s not a choice between a bad deal and a war. It’s between a bad deal and a better deal.

The problem with this deal is that nobody in Iran believes that President Obama would use military force to stop their breakout. As long as that’s true, you are never going to get a good deal. And nobody in Iran believed that John Kerry would walk away. So, the next president has to convince the Iranians that we want a better deal. We are going to insist on a better deal. If you try to break out, we are going to stop you militarily. When you negotiate with the Iranians, you have to act like you want a deal less than they do and actually mean it.

What are the odds of disapproving the deal?

Fifty-fifty. Public opinion is now in the mid-fifties against the deal. If we can get public opinion above 60 percent against the deal it will make every Democrat think twice about Obama’s legacy vs. their own future. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is making this a very big vote. The Arabs need to speak up about how dangerous this deal is. I think it’s 50-50 that we can get 13 Democrats to say ‘this is a bad deal, I want a better deal.’ All of it is not bad, but it is short of what we need. I really think it’s 50-50.





Huckabee’s Resolute Defense of Israel Should Be Praised, Not Criticized

Huckabee 1111Oh the outrage!

How dare former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee compare Iran following trough on its repeated threats to wipe the nation of Israel off of the face of the earth with a nuclear weapon to the Holocaust?

From 1941 to 1945, Jews in Europe where systematically murdered by the German government. In all, approximately six million Jews were killed in gas chambers, by mass shootings, or simply worked to death at extermination camps like Auschwitz. Should Iran follow through on it’s threat to annihilate Israel, the result would be the death of over 8 million people, 6 million of them Jews.

The notion that it was disrespectful for Huckabee to compare the Holocaust to the possibility of the lives of another six million Jews being extinguished by a nuclear attack by Iran was not only wrong, but it’s also callous. Huckabee didn’t say anything wrong. His analogy, while gruesome to fathom, was quite appropriate when discussing the realities of a radical Islamic regime being put on a pathway that insures it can acquire a nuclear weapon in a decade.

On Monday, the political news media seemed quick to follow the lead of Hillary Clinton and President Obama, who criticized Huckabee’s comments on the deal that the Obama Administration made with Iran. Clinton said Huckabee’s comment, “steps over the line and should be repudiated by every person of good faith.” Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Texas Governor Rick Perry agreed with Clinton’s assessment of Huckabee’s remarks and followed suit by saying his remarks were out of line.

At a press conference in Ethiopia on Monday, President Obama said Huckabee’s statement, “would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.” reached out to Bud Hockenberg, a Des Moines attorney, who has long been involved in Iowa politics, to get his reaction to uproar about Huckabee. Hockenberg has been a Council Member for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines.

Hockenberg told, “What is sad and ridiculous is that America has agreed (1) not to be a member of the Inspection Team with the knowledge of prior Iran cheating  (2) to assist Iran as an ally in protection against any harm to their nuclear facilities; (3) to a clear and present danger to our national security with no current restrictions on Iranian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.”

Hockenberg told The Guardian, “You can always judge the seriousness of a political statement by the reaction of the opposition, and the reaction of the White House has been instant and over the top.” In the same interview, Hockenberg described Huckabee, “as someone who sees the danger of the Iran deal and expressed it in a style that is historically effective.”

A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose the deal that the Obama Administration recently-negotiated with Iran. The poll showed that 52 percent of Americans don’t want congress to approve the deal, while 44 percent do. Two-thirds of Republicans and 55 percent of independents surveyed believe the deal should be rejected. The June CNN/ORC poll found that most Americans believed it was unlikely that such a deal would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

It’s clear that the Obama Administration believes the deal reached with Iran was done in good faith, but even with a deal in place, it hasn’t stopped Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from threatening the west. On Tuesday, CNN reported that Khamenei tweeted an image that portrays President Obama holding a gun to his own head. The image features a quote from Khamenei which states, “We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but if any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S.”

It’s been widely reported that the deal negotiated by the Obama Administration includes no requirements for Iran to end its aggressiveness toward Israel or the United States, nor does it require them to stop enriching uranium, building missiles, or funding terrorism around the globe. The deal also leaves their nuclear facilities intact. If the deal wasn’t bad enough, while the Obama Administration was finalizing their “historic deal” that lifted the international sanctions that have been imposed on them, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s supposedly moderate president, attended a Quds Day rally in Tehran.

Quds Day is an annual event on the last day of Ramadan. It’s origin dates back to 1979 to express Iran’s support of the Palestinian people and oppose the existence of Israel. At the rally that Rouhani attended, Iranian protesters burned American and Israeli flags while they chanted, “Death to America, Death to Israel.” At other Quds Day events protesters burned dummies depicting President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It’s absolutely stunning that a U.S. President and the State Department could ever believe that it is possible to negotiate a deal in good faith with a radical Islamic government. Sadly this isn’t necessarily new territory for the U.S. Government. In 1994, the North Korean government signed an agreement with the U.S. that would halt and eventually dismantle the North Korean nuclear weapons program in exchange for power-producing reactors. Ten years later, the country began firing short and long range missiles, and in 2009, they detonated a nuclear devise under ground.

The condemnation of Huckabee’s statement this past weekend is shocking, especially considering that two Republican presidential candidates were quick to join the Democrats in castigating the remarks. The sad reality is that what Huckabee said this past weekend is unfortunately true. Even though some my find his choice of words to be in bad taste, he nonetheless used an accurate analogy.

It’s a sad day in the world when we chose to ignore history and turn a blind eye to the actions of radical regimes that continue to instigate hostilities around the globe. It’s more than likely that Congress will vote down Obama’s horrible deal with Iran. It’s also likely that the liberal news media will be outraged over the debate that is about to transpire. Regardless of how Huckabee voiced his support of Israel, he is on the right side of the issue and is smart not to back down amid the media and liberal outrage over his comment.

There is no middle ground when it comes to foreign policy matters involving Israel and Iran. Huckabee has staked out a pro-Israel position that you would expect out of most Republican candidates for president. It’s the same position held by most Americans. And it’s an appropriate position considering the Iran’s recent history.

I agree that terms like “Holocaust” can tend to be incorrectly used or used too often. However the word “Holocaust” should never be taken out of our lexicon because there may come a time in which it’s use may become appropriate. This is such a time given that the naïve deal the U.S. Government just signed with Iran could very well lead to a second Holocaust.



 Photo by Dave Davidson –



Ernst Calls for Congressional Approval of Iran Agreement

“The ever increasing and complex threats we face in the Middle East underscores how crucial it is that any longstanding agreement with Iran must go through Congress.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) took to the Senate floor to call for congressional approval of any final deal with Iran. Senator Ernst emphasized the need to preserve U.S. national security interests, those of our allies, and the need to maintain stability in the world.


Mr. President, I rise today to stress the importance of ensuring nuclear negotiations with Iran to preserve our national interests and our security; one that protects the security of our allies and partners in the region and maintains peace and stability in the world.

As a member of the Iowa Army National Guard and serving on the Armed Services Committee here in the Senate, I am focused on strengthening our national security, developing strategies to confront terrorism, and discuss ways to support our exceptional military. 

While I believe Iran’s long-term goal is developing nuclear weapons, its most effective line of effort against us and our allies has been through its unwavering support of terrorism.  

The Obama Administration should only accept a final deal which prohibits sanctions relief until Iran abandons its support of terrorism.

Providing Iran with sanctions relief would only enhance their opportunity to fund proxy groups which threaten our Israeli allies, and whose activities have led to horrible consequences to millions of people in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

While the Obama Administration has been seemingly eager to relieve sanctions in an effort to convince Iran to sign a nuclear deal, Congress cannot stand by and watch as a deal is negotiated that paves the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. We must take a step back and examine their actions, and it is absolutely crucial we understand who is on the other side of the negotiating table.

Iran continues to be the world’s lead sponsor of terrorism and a supporter of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad who is responsible for killing hundreds and thousands of his own people, creating the gravest humanitarian crisis in modern history, and who facilitates the continued rise of extremism and sectarianism across the region.

Iran has shown unwavering support of terrorism and has aligned themselves with groups that are hostile to the United States, our allies and partners in the region. In fact, Iran continues to fund groups that threaten our Israeli allies who are very concerned about Iran amassing nuclear capabilities and the direct threat they pose to the region. After this long-standing pattern of behavior, I do not believe we can trust Iran will curb its ambitions or support for terrorist activity on their own. 

Despite any agreement that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may agree to, I believe Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will ultimately maintain his policy of attempting to obtain a nuclear weapon, and may use any funds obtained through prematurely providing sanctions relief towards that end, as well as to support terrorists.  

Iran’s more than a quarter century long effort to obtain a nuclear weapon will not subside overnight. It is a faulty assumption to trust that Tehran is on the side of rule of law. Iran has a very troublesome track record when it comes to deception, when it comes to compliance and trustworthiness, which is why we need a deal that ensures America, and the world’s ability to verify and enforce any agreement with Iran.

This includes complete and open access, at any time, to all of Iran’s facilities – to hold them true to their word and to verify their actions. We must also have the proper enforcement mechanism in place so that any broken promise garners an appropriate and immediate response.

This accountability can be enforced through renewed and strengthened congressional sanctions. Sanctions have been effective in the past and we must keep this option on the table. In fact, these sanctions are what brought Iran to the negotiation table in the first place, so we must not be too quick to suspend them.

The ever increasing and complex threats we face in the Middle East underscores how crucial it is that any longstanding agreement with Iran must go through Congress. This enables the American people to have a voice. Congressional review is supported by a bipartisan majority of my colleagues and a majority of Americans – it’s commonsense. We must have more oversight of this process, and the opportunity for thoughtful consideration to ensure we have been very clear about our demands and the framework of any final agreement.

There is no doubt the Administration shares my concern, and the concern of many of my colleagues, regarding the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have been murdered with barrel bombs, Sarin gas, indiscriminate shelling of cities, and in prisons or the millions more who have been forced to flee their homes. 

We must stop Iran from supporting this criminal regime which has helped engulf the region.  Sanctions relief without ensuring funds would not go to Assad or to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, which is key to the survival of the regime, would do nothing to help achieve a favorable political or military solution in Syria.

With that in mind, I cosponsored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act which has bipartisan support and is before the Senate today. This legislation embraces fundamental and core principles that lay the foundation for a good deal with Iran. This deal ensures congressional review of a final agreement. It demands that no congressional sanctions be lifted during the review period, and it safeguards congressional oversight of Iranian compliance.  

This bill is a good starting point, and I want to praise the good work by the Chairman of the Committee for continuing to push for congressional review.

Our ultimate goal must be to curb all Iranian terror, and this will never happen if we do not confront and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

I believe a final deal which does not address Iran’s support of terrorism and other groups which subvert recognized governments is not in the best interests of our nation, and an agreement without these assurances will miss an opportunity to provide stability in the region.

In closing, the bottom line is that Iran must never be allowed to develop a single nuclear weapon – not now or at any point in the future. A nuclear Iran presents one of the greatest threats to peace and stability in our time.

With that, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.