Political Mercury

Former governor makes his case

Douglas Burns


In a wide-ranging interview at Cronk’s Cafe Restaurant & Lounge in Denison, former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad discussed how he plans to appeal to the GOP base and reach out to independents in his 2010 race for a fifth term in Terrace Hill.

As of Jan. 4, independent voters in Iowa — at 778,498 — outnumbered Republicans, 610,068, and Democrats, 722,946, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

Branstad, who is opposed to same-sex marriage, also explains in the interview why he believes children raised by homosexual parents are at a disadvantage.

In addition, the former governor responds to stinging political charges from a socially conservative group, the Iowa Family Political Action Committee. That organization, which supports Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats for governor, recently said the following: “Branstad also brings with him a loyalty to long-term political partners that seems to trump his loyalty to biblical principles.”

Branstad joins Vander Plaats and state Reps. Rod Roberts of Carroll and Christopher Rants of Sioux City in the Republican race. Branstad tells us why he hasn’t publicly criticized them in the campaign so far. The same, as you will see, cannot be said of the former four-term governor’s evaluation of Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.

Question: Do you think you’ll have a lot of independents flood into the Republican primary and help you out? Independents tend not to be as ideological as maybe Vander Plaats supporters are.

Branstad: We expect to do very well among Republicans, but we also expect that there will be a number of young people who tend to be more independent that will participate because they see that I offer a future that’s going to provide a good education and good jobs and restore fiscal responsibility. And they are the ones that are going to have to pay back all this debt being racked up by all the Democrats.

Question: The Iowa Family Policy Center’s political arm sent out a press release (in endorsing Vander Plaats) that even for someone like me who has been covering politics for 20 years was really pretty stunning. They basically charged that you’re putting your politics and ambition ahead of your belief in God. Most Christians believe one’s most intimate relationship is with God. Do you find that offensive, that somebody is challenging your Christianity that way?

Branstad: I’m just disappointed that people would do that. My philosophy is to follow the Golden Rule, and that is to treat other people as you’d want them to treat you. I have not said anything negative about any of the other Republicans. I won’t. I’m going to abide by Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, and I’m going to continue to focus on my vision and my goals and my experience and what I want to do for the people of Iowa. I’ll let people make their own judgment on that, but I’m not going to judge other people.

Question: You personally, why do you think a child is better off with one man and one woman as parents than a same-sex couple? What’s the harm with someone being raised by a same-sex or homosexual couple?

Branstad: I think it’s important for children to have a loving and supportive environment. The studies that have been done show that if you have both a husband and a wife in the home together, those children tend to be the most successful. That’s not to say that you can’t survive in a single-parent home or another different type of environment. But it’s just more difficult, and the chances of success are not as great as they are in a more traditional home environment.

Question: You have had some criticism for Gov. Culver. Has he done anything right as governor? Is there anything you’d want to give Gov. Culver credit for doing?

Branstad: Certainly I think he’s done some good things in terms of responding to the disasters. The first ice storm that occurred after he became governor, I advised him to get back to the state as quick as you can and be hands-on involved and try to do what you can to help people relieve the suffering and provide assistance. I think he’s done that.

Question: You looked around the GOP field for governor, or just the field for governor, and said, ‘I’ve got more experience; I’ve got the ability to do it.’ Why don’t you do the same thing for the presidency in 2012? If you look at Mitt Romney, you look at Mike Huckabee, you look at Sarah Palin, the three top Republican names and all former governors, you have more experience than they do. The Iowa Caucuses are first. Why go for governor again when you would be a credible presidential candidate?

Branstad: First of all, I guess I’m flattered that somebody would even suggest that. My experience and my knowledge is in Iowa and in state government. I never wanted to go to Washington. I really wouldn’t feel comfortable there. Obviously I think there are big changes that need to be made there, but I’m just not the right one to do that. CV


Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

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