20 takeaways from Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit1/28/2015
1. Scott Walker is the real political deal. The Wisconsin governor — who went to grade school in Plainfield, Iowa — showed connectivity, policy bona fides and earnest seriousness. Walker focused effectively on education, which is where Iowans spend the majority of their state taxes.
And he offered a foundational philosophy: “The measure of success in government is how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”
2. A bold prayer. Congressman Steve King asked God, in the form of a public prayer launching his Iowa Freedom Summit Saturday, to select the president He will use to “restore the soul of America.”
Presumably, God is listening to King. If God selects Hillary Clinton for the White House, what is King going to do: Tell us God was asleep on that prayer, or challenge the Divine intervention he solicited before a national audience?
3. A sure-thing applause line for the rest of Senator Charles Grassley’s political career: “I’m Chuck Grassley, and I’m a farmer.” Singer, thank the songwriter. Bruce Braley ought to at least get some royalties from Grassley for that.
4. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made himself relevant in Iowa Saturday with a terrific speech, one that played to and against stereotype. Christie argued that a pro-life Republican can win women and Hispanics in a blue state. And he made this point: If his New Jersey ways are so off-putting, then why do Iowans keep inviting him to the Hawkeye State?
The most moving and genuine family story presented at the summit in Des Moines: Christie talked of being at his mother’s death bed on a Friday morning. She urged him to go back to work, saying it is where he should be, according to Christie. “There’s nothing left unsaid between us,” Christie’s mother told him.
Mother and son had talked bluntly and honestly during their relationship, and that, Christie said, is how he operates as governor.
Bonus political points: One gets the sense that Steve King really likes Christie personally.
5. Senator Joni Ernst could be not only the first woman to serve as a federal elected official from Iowa, but the first to do so as a hologram.
Ernst is so carefully managed and scripted, existing outside the traditional give-and-take with the Iowa public and media, that her image could be beamed in remotely from Conservative Wind-Up Doll Central without her actually appearing in the flesh. Perhaps this is already happening and we’re just slow on the technological uptake.
6. Mike Huckabee is running for president. Why did the former Arkansas governor leave Fox News? “It wasn’t so I could go deer hunting every Saturday,” he said.
7. Joni Ernst for president? The biggest boost for Ernst came from former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore who commented on her nationally televised rebuttal to the president last week. “I kind of think she should have been giving the State of the Union,” Gilmore said.
8. And on the eighth day, God created Ronald Reagan. Ambassodor John Bolton said Reagan was the only president “who can amend Scripture and make it better.” Bolton was referring to Reagan’s Matthew-inspired “City on a Hill” speech. Prediction: Bolton will announce that Reagan’s body has been exhumed, revealing holes in his hands.
9. Remember the Alamo. “If Washington refuses to secure the border, Texas will,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
10. Is there a Sarah Palin action figure? And does it come with a leather wardrobe? If a truck stop on the interstate could be a sovereign nation, Palin would make a wonderful president for it.
11. Big thinking from Palin: Decentralize the federal government and move agencies outside of Washington. D.C., and around the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should be in “farm country,” she said.
12. There’s starch in that blue collar. “We need to be the party of the worker,” said former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Most people in America work for other people, meaning Republican calls for boosts to entrepreneurship and investment, while right-minded, are hitting the wrong audience, Santorum said. The GOP needs to show it is the voice of the working class, Santorum said.
13. The Obama Hater Of The Day Award goes to … Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who said: “This president doesn’t believe in America.”
14. Congressman Steve King emerged on the Hoyt Sherman stage in Des Moines to theme music from the movie “Rocky.” Republican operatives must have forgotten to download “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.”
15. Donald Trump’s extraordinary self-confidence is cloud clearing: “I’m the one person that can make this country great again. That’s all I know,” Trump said during a session with reporters.
16. Political Mercury’s best question to a potential presidential candidate: Mr. Trump, why haven’t you built anything in Iowa? Are we too small for you? The Donald’s answer: he’s considered building here, and loves Iowa.
17. Citizens United President David Bossie maintained a straight face while complaining about “crony capitalism.”
18. Ben Carson on Obamacare: “Even if it worked, I’d oppose it.”
19. Bushes are safe with Sarah Palin. There’s no beating around them. “Screw the left and Hollywood,” Palin said.
20. Speaking of Bushes, Jeb made the right calendar call. The former Florida governor and likely Republican presidential candidate steered clear of King’s cattle call, and the swirl of ant-immigrant sentiment that surrounds King. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.