RPII: Biden campaigns, Harkin Steak Fry bites, early voting

Republican Party of Iowa Intel (RPII) is a regular update to Iowa GOP activists and other interested parties featuring news and information about Iowa Republicans and campaigns. Send tips—news from your area, events, etc.—to patch [at] iowagop.org with [RPII] in the subject field.

DES MOINES—Vice President Joe Biden returned to Iowa Wednesday morning for a partisan campaign rally on the west steps of the Iowa State Capitol that he billed to U.S. taxpayers.

In a releaseRepublican Party of Iowa leaders criticized Biden for using his official office to pay for a partisan, campaign trip to Iowa in the home stretch of the midterm elections.

I’d love nothing more than for Joe Biden to be a 2016 presidential candidate,” said Jeff Kaufmann, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa and a seventh-generation livestock farmer from Wilton. “If that wish won’t come true, then I’d at least wish he would campaign on his own dime and not bill the taxpayers of Iowa and America.

“Time and time again, when I served in the Iowa House of Representatives, I saw Republicans stand with the middle class,” said Kaufmann, a community college professor. “I saw them stand for property rights. I saw them stand against the overreach of big government. I have no doubt that the party I lead is the party of the the working class.”

While campaigning in the Hawkeye State, Biden made national newsby referring to the former prime minister of Singapore as “the wisest man in the Orient.”

The Republican National Committee highlighted the remark, which came just hours after he apologized for using the derogatory term “Shylocks” in a Tuesday speech.

“Vice President Joe Biden’s insensitive remarks are offensive to both Asian-Americans and our Asian allies abroad,” said Ninio Fetalvo, the Republican National Committee Asian American and Pacific Islander spokesman, in a statement. “His comment is not only disrespectful but also uses unacceptable imperialist undertones.” Fetalvo called on Biden to apologize.

STEAK FRY BITES… The top ten morsels from last weekend’s steak fry
1. Republicans reminded Iowans and journalists about Hillary Clinton’s record and disastrous 2008 caucus performance:
“Unless there’s been some kind of a born again experience in terms of her ability to interact with the common person and the common Iowan, I think she’s got some issues,” said Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann [in a Friday conference call with RNC chairman Reince Priebus].
“If it was your job as national party job chairman to recruit a whole slew of volunteers, to raise a whole bunch of money and unify your party, you’d want nothing more than for Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee,” Priebus said. Clinton suffered her “most stinging political defeat” in the 2008 precinct caucuses because she’s “one of most out-of-touch politicians in America, Priebus said. He said it appears she is repeating her doomed 2008 strategy of trying to build an “air of inevitability.”
Kaufmann agreed Clinton doesn’t appear to have learned any lessons from that 2008 defeat. Iowans want presidential candidates who can sit down and talk about the issues with them face-to-face, he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think Mrs. Clinton fits that particular bill,” he said. “That’s probably the explanation why she finished third last time.”
2. Even Tom Harkin doesn’t know where Hillary Clinton stands on the issues.
Tom Harkin: “I Do” Have Real Questions About Where Clinton Stands On Issues

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“Well, I don’t know,” Harkin said in response to a question from ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “I think this is something that will be developed and we’ll find out when—if when and if she decides to run, you know, what’s her vision for America?”
“So you still have real questions about where she stands on those central issues?” Karl said. “I do everybody,” Harkin said.
3. Hillary Clinton’s bubble. “Hillary Clinton is trapped in a bubble… After arriving in a motorcade, she was driven to the site of a gas grill to cook steaks as hundreds of media people watched. The site was so far from the crowd that it was impossible to see her. She did not walk down the grass hill and shake hands with the throng below. She did not sit in the tents and eat with the people who paid $30 for their meals… ‘Hillary is part of the political machine, and we need somebody to break through,’ said Brenda Brink, a dietician from Huxley.”
4. Clinton promises retail politicking, refuses to sign anything except her own nameA supporter asks Clinton to write “Jermaine” on an item she is signing. She responds, “I just can sign my name.” Sorry Jermaine! The rules of rope line autographs are unbendingly rigid and must be obeyed!
5. Whoops! Bill Clinton forgets Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley’s name: “When Bubba brought his speech down the closing stretch, no one updated him on Braley’s name. ‘You know what you ought to do to honor the Harkin legacy, and that is to elect Bruce Bailey, a new governor, and all these congressional candidates. Thank you and God bless you all,’ Clinton said.”
6. POLITICO headline: “Why Hillary hates Iowa.” “Hello, Iowa!” says Hillary Clinton, who has not set foot in Iowa for six years and eight months, and in fact, until quite recently has loathed the place. She cautiously enunciates each word from her prepared text, even the jokes. She is careful, modulated, meticulous. She is Hillary…
[POLITICO, 9/14]
7. Clinton pretends to campaign among voters but dodges questions. Clinton was asked by an immigration activist if she backs the President’s decision to delay executive action on immigration reform until after the midterms. Ever the crowd pleaser, she responds, “You know, I think we have to elect more Democrats.”
8. Hillary Clinton didn’t commit to returning to Iowa. Asked by a reporter if she’ll be back to Iowa again, she said, “Well, we’ll do what we can.” [Associated Press, 9/15] But, at least she said it won’t take another seven years… “It’s really great to be back,” she said. “Let’s not let another seven years go by.” [U.S. News & World Report, 9/15]
9. Clinton was not the only potential Democrat running for president in Iowa last weekendIn a cramped church basement a few miles from downtown, a crowd of more than 400 sweltered through a 90-minute discussion Sunday night with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist” independent senator from Vermont who’s considering a run for president as a Democrat… Even at the steak fry, billed as Clinton’s big debut back to Iowa, Ready for Hillary supporters were met with Ready for Warren supporters. [ABC News, 9/15] “People at [Sanders’ Dubuque] event liked the fact he was courting Iowa despite Clinton’s front-runner status and was willing to stand up and possibly challenge her from the left.” [CNN.com, 9/14]
10. RNC issues research reports on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record and dismal caucus campaign in 2008
Benghazi: Two Years Later
[RNC, 9/10]

Hillary’s Hawkeye Return
[RNC, 9/12]


Ernst rallies Johnson County GOP Fri. in Iowa City
U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst and other Republicans for local, state and federal offices gathered in Iowa City late Friday to rally support ahead of Nov. 4 elections.
[Iowa City Press-Citizen, 9/13]

Ernst began a new ad campaign this week, starting with “About.” In the new ad, Joni talks about the topics that matter most to her and how she plans to work in Washington to protect Iowa for the next generation.


Two polls released today—one from Quinnipiac University and one from FOX News—show encouraging signs for Republicans and state Sen. Joni Ernst.

Quinnipiac PollErnst leads Braley 50-44 percent among likely voters. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,167 likely voters Sept. 10-15 with a +/- 2.9% margin of error.

Key takeawaysErnst is winning independent voters by 7 points (50-43). Ernst has a positive favorability rating while more Iowans dislike Braley than like him. On key character traits, Ernst is outpolling Braley: “Ernst is honest and trustworthy, voters say 55 – 28 percent, well ahead of Braley’s 45 – 36 percent. Ernst cares about their needs and problems, voters say 52 – 37 percent, edging Braley’s 48 – 37 percent. Ernst has strong leadership qualities, voters say 60 – 25 percent, ahead of Braley’s 48 – 34 percent.”

FOX Poll: Ernst and Braley tied at 41 percent. Fox, in conjunction with a Republican and Democrat polling firm, surveyed 600 likely voters Sept. 14-16 with a +/-4% margin of error.

Key takeawaysOnly 38 percent support President Obama’s job performance (57 percent disapprove). Likely voters under 35 have an even worse impression of Obama: 28-64% approval rating (-36%). 54 percent think the country is not better off than it was in 2008 (37 percent think it is).

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds released a video showing them voting early, and you can click the graphic below to request an absentee ballot to bank your vote for the GOP team:

ICYMI: Congressman Braley still blames neighbor for chicken legal threat

Congressman Bruce Braley is now blaming his neighbor for his decision to threaten a lawsuit against her,” said Republican Party of Iowa spokesman Jahan Wilcox. “If Congressman Braley doesn’t even take responsibility for picking a legal fight with his next-door neighbor over a couple of chickens, how can we ever trust him in Washington?

The Iowa GOP responded to an attack by Washington insider Bruce Braley smearing Joni Ernst’s exceptional record in support of RFS by reminding voters about Braley’s $120,000 in oil stocks.

Click here to read the Republican Party of Iowa’s weekly round-up of U.S. Senate race news. Hint… it was another rough week for Rep. Bruce Braley.

Congressman Latham chided Rep. Braley for being the only Iowan to vote against the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act“It is troubling that Congressman Braley was the only Iowan to vote for the EPA over farmers, and even worse he then claimed he had a different position. There is no shortage of Washington politicians that never mean what they say. Iowans expect more from their own representatives, especially on such an important issue to our state’s workforce and economic security.”


NEW NRCC ad for David Young: “Endorse“: Rep. Tom Latham: “I’m proud to endorse David Young as our next Congressman.” Sen. Chuck Grassley: “I worked with David for 7 years, and I can tell you he’ll be a great representative for Iowa. David will fight for lower taxes,  and less spending.” Latham: “And he’ll work to cut the debt. America faces serious challenges and we need people like David in Congress.” Grassley: “Join Tom and me, and let’s send David Young to Congress.”
[NRCC IE, 9/15]

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Young seems most polished in 3rd District debate“: “I was on the panel for this debate instead of watching it at home on TV like most voters would have. With that proviso, my impression was that Young was more polished and sure of his answers. Appel often seemed hesitant and tentative, not even completing sentences at times.”

ICYMIIowa GOP chair: Appel refusal to pull terrorist passports a dangerous, ignorant response to ISIS threat

Staci Appel was asked outright if she would confiscate passports from known American terrorists and inconceivably said she wouldn’t,” said Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann. “This is a dangerous and ignorant position, and it is clear she does not fully understand the threat posed by the new Islamic State.”

Miller-Meeks for Congress releases ad: “Problem,” a testimonial from Marty Ford, a retired Army Nurse Corps soldier.


Rod Blum ad: “Dirt Floors

“Dirt Floors” Rod Blum for Congress Ad

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DES MOINES—At a Greater Des Moines Partnership forum Tuesday, Gov. Terry Branstad spoke at length on policy issues and released a policy proposal to create the Center for Human Capital Enrichment.

Branstad spoke on several issues including college affordability, Iowa’s  property tax reduction, education reform and renewable fuels. He railed against the administration of President Barack Obama for injecting uncertainty into the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has harmed Iowa’s ag economy. Iowa has 42, ethanol plants, 12 biodiesel plants and two cellulosic ethanol plants, Branstad noted.

He invited Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy to the Iowa State Fair last year to see Iowa’s ag economy up close after she had only been on the job three weeks. Nonetheless, Branstad said his administration was blindsided when the EPA proposed cutting the mandate for the first time in Nov. 2013.

“Whoa,” Branstad said. “We were shocked. We were deeply disappointed.” He asked the EPA to hold a hearing on the issue in Iowa, “ground zero for renewable fuels,” but McCarthy refused. So, Branstad held his own panel. At a meeting with McCarthy in February, she promised a decision on the issue by June. There’s still no word from the Obama administration. Branstad said the EPA has said that it has punted the matter to the Office of Management and Budget.

“I’m a persistent guy,” Branstad said. “I’m not going to give up. The Obama administration has messed this up big time and really hurt the agricultural economy.” Branstad noted that the price of corn has plummeted, and orders for farm equipment have fallen. He suggested that Obama is playing politics by delaying and decision until after the Nov. midterms—while farmers struggle in the meantime.

“I love this state, and we’re not done yet,” Branstad said. “We’ve got a lot more to do, and I truly want to make Iowa the envy of the nation.”

Branstad will debate his opponent Sat. night in Burlington. The debate will air live on C-SPAN at 7 p.m.


DES MOINES—Gov. Terry Branstad spoke on behalf of Adam Gregg, a  former legislative aide and attorney running for Attorney General, at an event for young Republicans last week.

Gregg noted that he’s logged more than 13,000 miles on his car and plans to visit all 99 counties (he’s logged 78 so far). He’s focused his campaign on serious issues, including countering cyber crimes and enforcing immigration laws.
“Crimes that happened door-to-door now happen in your email inbox,” Gregg said, talking about his proposal to create a division dedicated to cyber crime in the AG’s office. He said in conversations with county sheriffs and attorneys around the state, local officials have told him that they don’t have the resources and the FBI usually won’t get involved.
Gregg said the Attorney General should know how to use email—a technology incumbent Democrat Tom Miller does not use.
The Drake University Law School graduate, Central College graduate and Hawarden native also said he would push to streamline government by reforming Iowa’s burdensome occupational licensing laws, as the AG’s office is the legal counsel for all state boards and agencies.
“Many of those don’t protect the health and safety of Iowans,” he said. “They just protect entrenched interests who created barriers for competitors to enter the market,” citing regulatory boards for hair braiders, shampooers and landscape architects as unnecessary.
Gregg also criticized Miller for his actions on immigration law. Earlier this month, Gregg’s campaign released an email showing that Miller’s office advised county attorneys to release suspected illegal immigrants from custody, even when federal law enforcement requested the detention of potentially dangerous inmates.
As a result, 22 county attorneys are not following the 48-hour hold requests from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency. Miller based his analysis on one lone Oregon decision based on pressure from liberal groups such as the ACLU—and he ignored plenty of contrary court opinions.
“I would have given county attorney’s practical legal advice instead of just throwing open the jailhouse doors,” Gregg said.
Gregg also hammered Miller for his close ties to the Obama administration. Miller was the first Iowa elected official to endorse Obama in 2008 and chaired his campaign in 2012.
“When is he going to use that relationship to help Iowans?” Gregg asked, noting that Miller has filed briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court to back the Obama administration on Obamacare, the Hobby Lobby case and a case that could have undermined Iowa’s right to work law. Miller also refuses to visit all 99 counties and is rarely seen outside of Des Moines or D.C.
“If you had a lawyer who wouldn’t meet with you or give you legal advice, you would fire him,” Gregg said. “The Attorney General is the last line of defense against the federal government. It can challenge government on behalf of Iowa and Iowans. Tom Miller hasn’t challenges the Obama administration on any significant issue.”
Branstad called Gregg a “strategic thinker,” and reamed Miller.
The Attorney General is Iowa’s lawyer, but you never know when you can trust him,” Branstad said, noting that Miller did not support Iowa farmers when California attempted to impose regulations on the cage size used by Iowa chicken farmers. Branstad thought he had Miller’s support.
“Low and behold, at the last minute, [Miller] pulls out because he doesn’t want to offend interest groups in California, such as PETA,” Branstad said. “We’ve gone to bat for that. Where’s the Attorney General? Not there to help us.
Gregg campaign releases first general election ad: “Iowa attorney general candidate Adam Gregg’s first television ad of the campaign, ‘Fighting for Iowa,’ has him touting his ‘passion and the energy to fight every single day or Iowa families, Iowa farmers, and our Constitutional freedoms.’ … Gregg has criticized Miller for accepting campaign contributions from lawyers in the finance, insurance and real estate industries during a time when Miller was actively investigating their role in possible improper foreclosure practices.”
Gregg is also running a digital ad campaign. “AG4AG.” 
“I’ve traveled to 78 counties as of today, and Iowans of all walks of life have told me in no uncertain terms: they want an Attorney General who represents Iowa, and not President Obama. We will continue to press our case that Iowans deserve an Attorney General they can be proud of, and one who independently represents their interests,” Gregg said in a campaign release.
Iowa GOP releaseDemocrats nominated Brad Anderson, a partisan political operative, as their candidate for Secretary of State. Anderson, a Chicago native, directed the 2012 campaign for President Barack Obama in Iowa.
Iowans have a clear choice for Secretary of State: Paul Pate, a proven public servant and small businessman, or Brad Anderson, a partisan operative,” said Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann, a seventh generation livestock farmer and community college professor from Wilton. “Iowans will be better served with a chief elections officer who will run the office professionally and impartially instead of a Chicago-style partisan with a political axe to grind.”
Republicans are calling on the Democratic candidate for secretary of state to release a “comprehensive list” of his political clients and projects.
[Radio Iowa, 9/10]