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Political Mercury

Clovis: Obama’s race shields him from impeachment


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis, a firebrand northwest Iowa conservative, says he believes many congressional Republicans want to impeach President Obama. The only thing standing in their way, Clovis said in an interview, is the color of the president’s skin.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis (left) speaks with his campaign manager Chuck Laudner in Carroll following an interview. Photo by Douglas Burns

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis (left) speaks with his campaign manager Chuck Laudner in Carroll following an interview. Photo by Douglas Burns

“I would say there are people in the House of Representatives right now that would very much like to take the opportunity to start the process,” Clovis said of impeaching the nation’s first African-American president. “And I think the reason that they’re not is because they’re concerned about the media.”

In an interview, Clovis, who did not provide reasons for why the president would be vulnerable to impeachment, said the media would cover the issues surrounding such proceedings differently with a black president than a white one with the same record.

“It’s not that what he has done would not rise to the level where it might be impeachable,” Clovis said. “I don’t think it’s a practical, pragmatic issue. And simply because I don’t think the nation is ready for it.”

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He said the impeachment of President Bill Clinton didn’t end well.

“Now we have a situation where race is thrown into the cards as well,” Clovis said. “Whether we like it or not, race is an issue.”

In a wide-ranging, 45-minute interview, Clovis, a retired Air Force colonel and a former conservative talk-radio host in Sioux City, had strong criticism for Obama on foreign policy.

Clovis said the Obama administration is guilty of placating Iran, Syria and Egypt. Obama has also “agitated and aggravated” Israel and South Korea, the GOP candidate said.

“Those are all things that I think show that you really don’t care about the friendships, the alliances and the long-standing relationships that we’ve had with a lot of these nations around the world,” Clovis said.

Back on the home front, Clovis is a staunch advocate of term limits and said he would serve only two, six-year terms in the Senate. House members should be limited to 12 years as well, he said.

Breaking up the seniority system is central to cutting government spending and limiting federal power, Clovis said.

“I think that system is a system that’s fraught with the potential for corruption, and I really do think the special interests, and the seniority system that are applied inside each conference in the Senate, is really something I don’t think is appropriate,” Clovis said.

Bottom line: It’s not right for members of Congress to focus on bringing projects and funding programs in their states, Clovis said.

“If you’re no longer concerned about incumbency and re-election, you have the opportunity then to really focus on what’s best for the nation and then what’s best for the state if you’re a U.S. senator,” Clovis said.

Sooner or later, he said, members of Congress need to see some of their own pet programs cut or killed for the betterment of the nation.

The Republican U.S. Senate field now includes Clovis; state Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak; former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker of Clive; Mark Jacobs of West Des Moines, the retired CEO of Texas-based Reliant Energy; and Ames car salesman Scott Schaben.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is the presumptive Democratic candidate. Veteran U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is retiring at the end of the year.

Clovis said that recent endorsements from Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a long-standing conservative organization with roots in the early 1970s battles over the Equal Rights Amendment for women, and the Citizens United Victory Fund, show that while other candidates in the field are getting airtime, he’s stoking the grassroots base.

“That exactly where we are, and I’m not trying to be coy,” Clovis said.

Polls now, several months before the June primary, are more about name recognition than substance, Clovis said.

“If you’re looking for form, we have candidates you can look at that are pretty attractive,” Clovis said. “If you’re looking for substance, the choices are pretty few. They’re very few, and they’re very simple — and it comes straight to me. I think this is what people are finding out across the state.”

Clovis said he connects with rank-and-file Republicans who make the call on their fall candidate.

“I can talk their language,” Clovis said. “Even though I have the education, background and all the other factors that go into this, I have a way of being able to communicate with people and they understand.”

Clovis, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, raised questions about two of his primary opponents. It’s fair to ask whether Jacobs, who recently moved to Iowa after a career in Texas, is a “certifiable Iowan” who is seeking to serve out of “genuineness,” said Clovis.

“Is this an opportunistic thing that’s occurring?” Clovis said. “Did this come about because of some plan, or did he just think it was a good idea?”

Clovis said the clearest distinction on the GOP side of the Senate race is between his candidacy and that of Jacobs.

What’s more, conservatives will have trust issues with Ernst, Clovis said, citing support her campaign has from Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and party insider David Oman, a former chief of staff to Govs. Terry Branstad and Robert Ray.

Ernst’s connections with the establishment will trouble many GOP primary voters, Clovis said.

“I would suggest that it might,” Clovis said.

He added, “The situation as I see it is that you are known by the people with whom you associate.”

Clovis said Iowans can clearly see that there are “big government people” endorsing other Republicans in the race. 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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