Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Christie Coming to Iowa

Courting Christie: The Iowans who flew to New Jersey for a private dinner in the governor's mansion with Governor Chris Christie Tuesday evening may not be able to say they convinced him to run for president. But they did help break the news that Christie will come to Iowa this summer. A spokesperson for the group says Christie told the group he will speak at Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's education summit in July. Tonight, Branstad's Communications Director Tim Albrecht responded, "We've discussed this possibility with Governor Christie. We believe in the bipartisan nature of the conference. Former (North Carolina) Governor Jim Hunt, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have confirmed (all are Democrats). Christie would fill an important role in the education summit should he decide to attend."

There's no mention yet of Christie's visit on the summit's website.

Christie's coming to Iowa...let the speculation begin.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Palin to Iowa, Maybe

Palin, Palin, Palin: Is Sarah Palin news? I'm not trying to be a smart a$% here. I'm being serious. We have been speculating for months, actually years now, whether she will run for president. She might be building a house in Arizona. A presidential launching palace? The national media are all over this bus tour she has begun this week. As per usual, there is little to no access for reporters to Palin, outside of Fox, of course, the source of one of her paychecks.

Pawlenty, Paul, Cain, Gingrich, Johnson have all announced they were running for president. Santorum, Bachmann and Romney will likely add their names to the list in the next few weeks, as well. Huntsman and Perry might, too. So where is Palin in all of this? Good question. Fox took Gingrich and Santorum off the air as contributors because of their interest in running for president. Yet, Palin remains on the air, despite this latest bus tour. Palin told CNN Monday that her bus tour might come to Iowa "at some point". And let's not forget the Palin movie coming to the state next month.

If she comes, then, I guess we should cover her. And I'm not saying she is not newsworthy at all. After all, she was the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee. But all of this breathless national coverage, though, on her every move, tweet and Facebook post? It all just seems to be a bit much. We have plenty of other declared and nearly-declared candidates on the Republican side. We need to start vetting them. What do they believe? What are their ideas? How will they solve the country's problems? Are they more than just red-meat soundbites? And, of course, I'm not forgetting the president. Since it doesn't appear he will have a Democratic primary opponent, then that changed pre-primary coverage. But we still need to know what he will do in the future. What about the debt? Unemployment? Declining schools? Entitlement programs?

What would Palin do if we quit covering her. For now. If even Fox doesn't think she is serious enough yet for a presidential run (since she is still a paid contributor on the air for the network), then why should we?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Matt Paul to USDA

Headed East: Matt Paul was a trusted member of Tom Vilsack's inner circle during both of Vilsack's terms as Iowa governor. Paul's duties at various times included scheduler, communications director and senior adviser. When Vilsack headed out to D.C. to become the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 2 years ago (after a short presidential run with Paul again by his side), Paul stayed in Des Moines. He joined Link Strategies, which then lead to LPCA Public Strategies. But now Paul is joining his old boss once again. He will become communications director for the USDA. I have never been out there that office. But I found one article that shows Paul may have a little work to do to smooth things out in that agency. The Washington Post reported Paul's predecessor had some problems with some of the long-time workers there. Workers filed complaints against her. She left. Paul enters.

Paul, by the way, has been a contributor to Channel 13's "The Insiders" as a Democratic analyst. This morning's show may be his last for a while. He went out with his prediction that if Republican Michele Bachmann runs for president (and it sounds a lot like she will), she will win the Iowa Caucuses.

Here's the link to the Insiders' show.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Romney Returns

Feeling Burned: Mitt Romney made his return to Iowa. It's his first trip to the Des Moines metro in about 7 months. Last year, he came here to sell his book and to help campaign for Terry Branstad's eventual return to the governor's mansion. The event offered a pretty comfortable backdrop for Romney at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. The Greater Des Moines Partnership helped put it on in front of about 200 people. No questions on the social issues, issues Romney struggled with in the past (he has been on both sides of same-sex marriages and abortion questions, which isn't something that's endeared him to some of the social conservatives). The questions submitted by people beforehand covered money matters.

The way it turned out, Romney didn't have to answer too many questions about any topic. His opening comments were probably 20 minutes long or so. The moderator, Lynn Campbell of iowapolitics.com, (now part of The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity) then followed with a handful of questions about where Romney's been for the past 7 months, why he's spending a lot more time in other states like New Hampshire and whether he'll compete in the Republican Party of Iowa's high-profile candidate cattle call, AKA straw poll, in August. The answers to those questions, by the way, in order...working on his book, campaigning differently this time and he's not sure--it'll be up to his political team.

OK, my questions... does Romney really not get involved in making the decision on whether to compete in the straw poll? Does he already know that the answer is no and just doesn't want to tick off Iowa Republicans this early? Does he want to swoop in later and make a late summer surprise entrance to take part in the straw poll? Or will it just depend on which other candidates are in the race and where he stands in the polls then?

Another question...Romney talked about this campaign will be different than 2008 because these are "lean" times. True, they are. VERY lean for a lot of Iowans these days. But when Romney talks about lean times, does it have the same resonance as when Oprah, another mega-richer does? Maybe that's not fair. I don't know. But will Iowans relate to a really rich guy, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, when he talks about cutting back on the way he spends money?

Random question...will he ever wear a tie again? I think he has been tie-less in his last 3 Iowa appearances (all after the 2008 election). This reminds me a bit of when Al Gore tried to loosen up his image. Remember when they tried to soften him up with those earth tone suits?

Finally, the whole popcorn incident during Romney's appearance was just bizarre. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs spokesman Jeff Morgan told me someone Thursday had put leftover popcorn in the microwave to store it overnight so the mice wouldn't get into it (perhaps, that's a whole other matter that may need to be addressed?) and then someone Friday put in leftovers into the microwave to heat up for lunch. Oops! The double-popped popcorn started burning, the smell started filling the air and the fire alarms went off again and again. That sent Romney and the rest of us outside the building. Before we went outside, Romney said he was going to meet with people outside, sign autographs and pose for pictures. He did for about 5 or 10 minutes, then got into an SUV, stopped to talk with former Iowa Governor Bob Ray for a few minutes and then drove off. Before the event I was told he was supposed to talk with local reporters after the Q and A session (this was all before the popcorn fiasco). But we never saw Romney again.

I wonder when he'll return. And how often.

Man Nearly Drowns with Life Jacket By His Side

Water Rescue: The crummy weather may have screwed up your weekend fun in the sun in central Iowa. But it apparently nearly cost one man his life. Thanks to a passerby and a DNR officer, he's still alive. But the incident may offer a lesson, too. The man went into the water with his life jacket by his side but not on his back.


CLEAR LAKE – High winds are being blamed for the capsizing of a boat and a Mason City man needing to be rescued from the waters of Clear Lake early Saturday evening.

Brent R. Radcliffe, 42, was being evaluated at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa after being rescued from the water approximately 600 feet off the Sea Wall at Clear Lake. He is not believed to have suffered life threatening injuries.

Radcliffe ended up in the water after high winds capsized his 16-foot Jon boat shortly after 5 p.m.. He was in the water approximately 15 minutes before being rescued by the operator of a jet ski, Dustin Cassady, 28, of Clear Lake and a DNR water patrol boat that arrived on the scene at about the same time.

“He (Radcliffe) was very, very lucky. He was just starting to go under when the operator of the jet ski was able to grab his arm and hold him. But if the rescue boat had not been right there too, I don’t think he would have been able to hang on to Mr. Radcliffe much longer and get him to safety,” said DNR Conservation Officer Ben Bergman.

Radcliffe was taken to the hospital by Clear Lake Fire and Rescue Ambulance. Alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

Bergman said the incident is a reminder to other boaters.

“First of all, Mr. Radcliffe was not wearing a life jacket even though there was one sitting right next to him when the boat was capsized. Second of all, boaters really need to be conscious of the conditions. Clear Lake had very high winds at the time of the incident which makes the water very unpredictable,” Bergman said.

The water temperature at Clear Lake on Saturday was only a little over 60 degrees, said Bergman, significantly raising the risk of hypothermia for people who are in the water for an extended period of time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


2012 Talk: So how glad is Michele Bachmann that she didn't plan on announcing her presidential run Thursday night in Des Moines for the Polk County Republicans dinner after all? What a debacle that would have been. Bachmann told us Thursday night, the idea had been discussed. But instead, she said she is now planning on making her announcement next month in Waterloo, her Iowa hometown (is there anyone in this entire state who DOESN'T think that announcement will be that she is running for president?).

I thought I'd share a little about how the day went. Around noon, MSNBC said something about the pending vote in Congress on extending the Patriot Act. That meant Bachmann could have a bit of a problem: does she skip the vote and honor her commitment in Iowa? Or does she stay in D.C. to vote and miss a chance to talk before several hundred Republican die-hards (and possibly tick them off)? People in both time zones tried to figure out a way she could do both. Bachmann's people arranged to have a private plane waiting in D.C. They had two scenarios. If it would be a late-night vote, Bachmann would fly into Des Moines for the dinner, jump back on the plane and vote in D.C. If the vote came late afternoon, she would vote first and then come to Des Moines. Forgive the phrase, but it all seemed up in the air for hours. And poor Kevin McLaughlin. If there's anyone I feel sorry for with all of this, it's he. He's the new Polk County Republican chairman. So he is in charge of the event. It's a headache enough to figure out a "plan B" if your headliner for the night may be a no-show, especially at 75 bucks a ticket. But Kevin had more pressing concerns. His wife was delivering their third son, George. Despite that, they did come up with a "plan B". Or maybe it was a "plan C or D" at that point.

They got Bachmann on the phone for a conference call with reporters about an hour before she was scheduled to speak (while the guests ate in the other room). That's when we heard from her that she would make her announcement in Waterloo. About an hour later, they Skyped her in. The idea may have been there. The execution wasn't. The computer screen froze with her image on it quite a few times as she tried to address the crowd. The audio was choppy. And the signal went down completely at one point. That brought groans from the crowd. I'm also a bit baffled why Bachmann chose to praise Donald Trump during her remarks. Trump? The same guy who had just hosed the Republican Party of Iowa by backing out of speaking before the record crowd for the Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines? (but did get NBC to up his paycheck for continuing "Celebrity Apprentice" before he announced he wouldn't run for president). I wonder if Bachmann knew all that had happened?

I would have loved to poll all the people in the room after the dinner. Did the whole event help or hurt Bachmann in their eyes? After all, that's what will matter come caucus time. Bachmann did "appear" (unlike the Donald). Do they give her props for staying in D.C. and doing her job by voting on the bill before Congress? Or do Iowans think she dissed them by staying out there for a vote that would have passed without her?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pawlenty Running for President

T Paw 2: Let's be honest, it's difficult to keep a big announcement secret in politics today. Usually some "source close to" the candidate lets some reporter know what's about to happen. Tim Pawlenty's announcement was a bit different. He pre-announced his own announcement. Aides let it out late last week that Pawlenty would announce his candidacy in Des Moines Monday. Well, not all aides. Eric Woolson, who signed on to lead Pawlenty's Iowa communications efforts still kept his lips mostly sealed to me on Sunday during our interview (and I wasn't even trying to get him to say what the announcement would be!) Woolson mentioned a few times the "major announcement" that was coming Monday. No leaks from him, gov.

Pawlenty provided his own leak, I guess you could say. He sent out a message on Facebook Sunday announcing what he would announce Monday. O.K., so much for the drama.

Pawlenty's campaign picked a picturesque setting for his Des Moines announcement Monday (by the way, how do Minnesotans feel about their former governor making his big announcement in Iowa rather than his home state?) using the roof/deck of the State Historical Building in downtown's East Village (yes, New Yorkers, Iowa has one, too). The golden dome of the capitol provided the backdrop and temperatures around 80 offered about the best weather one could hope this time of year. I doubt it will be difficult Tuesday to figure out whether your co-workers snuck off Monday to listen to the speech in person. Just look for the sunburn. If the campaign wanted to win over Iowans, maybe it could have offered some SPF protection (even the crotchety media-types would have had to accept that offer).

About 200 people came to hear the speech. Here's the verbatim of it. The crowd several times offered standing ovations, but this wasn't the loud rah-rah kind of announcement Iowans have seen in the past from some other candidates (Barack Obama to name one). Again and again, Pawlenty talked of the need to tell the truth to Americans. We'll see if this is the theme he uses during his Iowa campaign. If it is, expect to hear the Democrats offer their version of his truth, too. Democrats have made Pawlenty the prime target the past week. I counted 8 news releases from the party involving Pawlenty in the past 4 days. Is he the candidate they most fear right now? At least for now?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mitch Daniels Not Running; Pawlenty and Gingrich Praise Him

Hoosier Headline: So...the man some Republicans hoped would get into the race for president announced he won't be doing it. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has earned the recent praise of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley. But in an email announcement in the wee hours Sunday, Daniels told supporters he would not be running for president in 2012. Iowa Republicans had been telling me privately for the past 2 months they doubted Daniels would run, citing family concerns. Daniels' email today pointed to those family concerns as the reason he couldn't run for president. His wife previously ran off with another man, married him and left Daniels to care for the couple's 4 daughters. That would make for some uncomfortable interviews had he decided to run.

Who does this help the most? Perhaps, my email inbox offers a hint...from the candidates who may have let out a big....whewwwwww! today after Daniels' email went out.

This came from former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's campaign:

"Mitch Daniels is a friend of mine and one of the best governors in the country. While he may not be running, he is an intellectual powerhouse and will continue to play a leading role in the Party's politics and the Nation's policies. Mitch and I agree that America's out-of-control national debt is a threat to our nation's future, and that the next president must restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, DC. Mary and I wish Cheri and Mitch all the best."

And this one came from former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich:

"Mitch Daniels is a great Governor and a remarkable innovator. Mitch has brought successful reforms to Indiana that should be replicated across the country and in Washington. He will continue to be an important leader in solving America’s problems. I hope he remains in public service."

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman apparently sent out a statement praising Daniels, too. But I didn't get anything from his campaign. So until he seems more interested in actively competing in the Iowa Caucuses, we'll skip him...at least for now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trump is Out for Lincoln Day Dinner

Trump Dump: So much for the Donald's "the Decision". And so much for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Days Dinner in downtown Des Moines. Trump has now backed out of the dinner, alerting the party just today. Monday, the party thought Trump would say Tuesday whether he was still coming. That turned into Wednesday. Still nothing. Trump's spokesman told Channel 13 Wednesday, the decision would come next Monday. As is the case dealing with Trump so far this year, pinning down actual decisions proves difficult, as I learned when I tried to book him for WHO radio last month. The party said Trump's staff called today to say he would no longer come to the dinner. So now what?

The party's spokesman tells me it's just too late in the game to now try to find another speaker for the June 10th event. He declined to say how many tickets were sold. But earlier Chairman Matt Strawn said the event would be bigger than ever before.

The decision no doubt costs the party a good chunk of change. But I doubt some Republicans will mind. Not everyone was too pleased with Trump's behavior as he supposedly considered a presidential run, from the birther claims to the f-bomb-filled speech in Vegas. Not exactly what Iowans are used to seeing and hearing from presidential candidates. Iowans will just have to settle for Trump on his tv show.

Here's the response from the party on the cancelation (It doesn't sound like Mr. Trump will soon be getting another invite from Iowa, what do you think?):

Earlier today the Iowa GOP was informed that Mr. Trump will not attend and keynote the June 10 Lincoln Dinner. Citing Mr. Trump’s unique appeal and the close proximity to the event, the Iowa GOP has decided to cancel the 2011 Lincoln Dinner.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn issued the comment below following Mr. Trump’s decision to cancel his appearance at the Lincoln Dinner.

“In Iowa, your word is your bond. We are disappointed that Mr. Trump has chosen not to honor his commitment to Iowa Republicans.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trump Still On for Republican Party Dinner, For Now

The Decision: What is going on over at the Republican Party of Iowa?

I've never had a problem getting return phone calls for there, but I sure have the past 2 days. It's all about the Donald. Trump is supposed to headline the party's Lincoln Day Dinner June 10th. But since he's no longer a possible presidential candidate (and already bailing out of other events like the Indy 500), plus there's that f-bomb speech in Las Vegas from last month, is he the right guy to still headline the dinner? Trump did help sell a record number of tickets, according to the party previously. I don't know how many exactly, since I haven't heard back from the party. Senator Chuck Grassley told me he still supports Trump as the guest. Governor Terry Branstad's spokesman also told me the governor still supports Trump, if that's the person the party wants.

The party sent out this statement on Monday about Trump:

Iowa GOP Spokesman Casey Mills issued the comment below regarding the status of the June 10 Lincoln Dinner.

"While our invitation to Mr. Trump never hinged on a potential Trump candidacy, Iowans responded enthusiastically and with great interest in his appearance at our annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Today, it is our understanding that Mr. Trump is reassessing his commitment. We anticipate a final decision on his June 10 appearance will be made tomorrow and we will make further comments at that time."

Tomorrow (Tuesday) has now come and gone with no announcement. So has today (Wednesday). Still nothing from the party.

Trump's spokesman, Michael Cohen, told us this afternoon Trump will call Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn next Monday to discuss his availability. That's May 23rd, 18 days before the dinner. If Trump is out, that would make it REALLY difficult for the party to find another big-name guest (if the person isn't a present candidate/possible candidate) who would make the big crowd happy.

I've been asking around for replacement ideas. The most popular choices Republicans' recommend have been:

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (his spokeswoman told me early this evening no one has called to invite Daniels as a Trump replacement)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

If you get on the Channel 13 Facebook page, there are dozens of other ideas...including Mike Huckabee (would he still sell tickets now that he's disappointed his Iowa supporters?), Trump--not the man, just his hair, and even Bob Saget. What does that guy do these days after Full House emptied out?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sorenson vs. Gronstal

Shouting Senators: Hey, who says there's no excitement at the Iowa Statehouse as we watch day after day of seemingly no progress on budget issues? Last night, the senate debated a Democratic plan to try to ban a late-term abortion clinic that's scheduled to open in Council Bluffs. Radio Iowa has the background on this, but Indianola Senator Kent Sorenson and Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal got into a bit in the "well" of the senate of chambers last night as the sides argued over the next procedural move during the debate. Here's part of that exchange.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trump Not Running for President, Coming to Iowa Dinner?

The Donald is the Done: O.K., be honest: who really thought Donald Trump would give up the "Celebrity Apprentice" on NBC so he could run for president? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

It's just a coincidence that on the exact same day NBC announces its new fall lineup, which includes Trump's show, that Trump announces he won't run for president? Trump has plummeted in the polls after he kept pushing the birthers' claims Barack Obama was born somewhere other than the U.S. And he followed that up with his profanity-laced speech in Las Vegas, which horrified some of the Iowa big money-types I talked to. Trump had one associate working the phones a little talking to prominent Iowa Republican activists last month, but I don't know of anyone who had signed on to work with him. And I never even saw an Iowan ever named to the "Draft Trump" movement. Good thing for that non-existent Iowan with the new developments.

So what about the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Day Dinner? Trump was supposed to headline the event on June 10th. Will the party dis-invite Trump now? Will Trump dis-invite himself? I just received this statement from the party, which essentially says, stay tuned.

Iowa GOP Spokesman Casey Mills issued the comment below regarding the status of the June 10 Lincoln Dinner.

"While our invitation to Mr. Trump never hinged on a potential Trump candidacy, Iowans responded enthusiastically and with great interest in his appearance at our annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Today, it is our understanding that Mr. Trump is reassessing his commitment. We anticipate a final decision on his June 10 appearance will be made tomorrow and we will make further comments at that time."

DCCC Target Latham for Medicare Vote

Targeting Tom: National Democrats are trying to help out Des Moines area Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell, who they think might be vulnerable in his race against redistricted Republican Congressman Tom Latham in 2012. This is according to a story in Roll Call this morning. And if you live in the newly configured 3rd Congressional District, it means your phone might be ringing.

Here's the story.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Huckabee Not Running for President

Huck No: So, now what? Mike Huckabee's announcement on his Fox show this weekend was...so...drawn...o...u...t, didn't you think? So he hyped it all week. Then, even during the actual announcement, he talked about how people wanted him to run, he could raise the money and he was strong in the polls....He just kept building and building and building and then...he said his now famous (infamous, depending on your point of view) line, "All the factors say go, but my heart says no."

If he had decided not to run, then why put all the hype into all of this, especially if he is saying this was a decision he reached with God? Is there a disconnect to you on this? If this is a spiritual decision, then was all the hype spiritual, too? Why didn't he just say he prayed about it and decided for whatever reason, he wouldn't run?

Here's his statement:

The pundits and members of the political class who have spoken with certainty about my decision to run or not for President in 2012 are amusing if not amazing to think that they knew what even I didn’t know until late this week. The past few months have... been times of deep personal reflection. Even though I wasn’t actively establishing a campaign organization or seeking financial support to run again, polls have consistently put me at or near the top to be the Republican nominee. When possible candidates were discussed in the media and despite polls that showed me in the lead, my name would often go unmentioned while a candidate barely registering single digits was touted as a “front-runner.” I found comfort that the nomination would not be made by commentators, columnists, or consultants, but by the rank and file voters in the Republican primary, and their support is strong and has been growing. Concerns that I had about raising the necessary funds to be competitive or being able to win in states outside the South were answered when signs of strong financial support materialized and when polls showed me winning in states like Pennsylvania, Maine, and even New Jersey. That kind of shattered the notion that I was only a regional candidate or only supported by social conservatives. I had not done much toward a race because my life was filled with work that I truly love here at Fox News, doing radio commentaries on my daily Huckabee Report on 600 radio stations, traveling the country for speaking engagements, and helping good conservative, pro-life candidates who were running for office. Other people probably thought about it more than I did. I don’t have an issue with my family being supportive. My wife actually encouraged me to do it, despite knowing full well it would subject her and the rest of the family to brutal and savage personal attacks. My adult children have also made it clear they would be with me no matter what. When people asked me what it would take for me to run, I would tell them the same thing---pray for me to have clarity in the decision. I don’t expect everyone to understand this, but I’m a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. That relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the decision is ultimately not a political one, a financial one, or even a practical one ---it’s a spiritual one. The past few weeks, the external signs and signals and answers to many of the obstacles point strongly toward running. When I am with people encouraging me to run, it’s easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line. Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments did I have not only clarity, but an inexplicable inner peace—a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say GO, but my heart says NO. And that is the decision I have made and in it have finally found resolution. I don’t fully understand it myself—but I’m sure the pundits will. But I know that under the best of circumstances, being President is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human capacity. For me, to do it apart from an inner confidence that I was undertaking it with God’s full blessing is unthinkable. I can’t know or predict the future, but I know for now my answer is clear and firm. I will not seek the Republican nomination for President this year. I will gladly continue doing what I do and helping others in their campaigns for Congress, governorships, and other positions. I’ll certainly give more detail about this decision in due time and especially to those who have faithfully and so sacrificially been part of the process. I know I will deeply disappoint many people I love. So many good and dear people have put forth extraordinary effort without any assurance I would mount a campaign. It pains me to let them down. I also know my decision will delight just as many who aren’t that fond of me. I am eternally grateful for the faithful support of my wife, children and real friends who promised to stand with me no matter what. I had come to believe I would be in the race for President. I won’t be. But I will for sure be re-dedicating myself to standing for and communicating the principles of common sense, Constitutional government, and civil discourse that I believe are critical to the survival of our great Republic. From New York, This is MH, goodnight God bless, and I’ll be back next week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mike Huckabee for President

Huck, Part 2?--It really didn't seem like 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee winner would give up all the millions he makes with books, speeches, radio and tv to run for president again. Friday, even his 2008 national campaign manager Ed Rollins doubted Huckabee would run. And Wednesday Huckabee tweeted this:

Excited to share with you new education company I started. Will make animated history videos for kids. Preview here: http://bit.ly/lkuWIR

Surely, if he's starting an education company, he won't run for president, will he?

There's a lot of Twitter and Facebook chatter from his followers that he will run. The group, Stuck on Huck, which has encouraged people not to give up on Huckabee until he decides, posted this on Facebook: (not this much suspense since Lebron James, huh?)

Mike Huckabee is making his 2012 presidential decision tonight on "The Huckabee Show" at 7 p.m. CST. There hasn't been this much suspense to a decision since Lebron James told the word he was going to play for the Miami Heat on ESPN last fall. The Iowa grassroots supporters are ready, willing and able to fuel a second campaign - knowing that because Iowa has the first caucus - the "Huck Starts Here."

Is that wishful thinking or does someone know something? Even Fox news reported yesterday, it looks like Huckabee won't run. And since Huckabee works for Fox....?

The speculation should end soon. Huckabee is supposed to announce on his show tonight his plans for 2012. His show airs at 7pm central on the Fox News Channel.

What's your guess?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paul for President

Paul's Prediction: Is there anyone who doesn't think Ron Paul is about to announce his third run for president? Tuesday afternoon, Paul opened his Iowa campaign headquarters in Ankeny. When a reporter asked when he would decide whether he would run for president again, Paul said he was "on the verge" of his decision and would announce it within a week. Unless Paul just took out a day-to-day lease on his new Iowa office, I think we all know what decision he will make.

Here is Paul's speech before a few dozen supporters (plenty of red, white and blue in the room):

DCI Finds Fatal Shooting Justified

Johnson vs. Johnson: State investigators have ruled a Nevada police officer's fatal shooting of a man (both men are named Johnson, although they aren't related) was justified. Here's the release:

DCI, AG’s Findings Released in Nevada Officer Involved Shooting

Nevada, IOWA --- The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has completed its investigation into the officer involved shooting in Nevada, Iowa on April 10, 2011 involving Nevada Police Officer David Johnson and Nevada resident Kevin Johnson.

Upon completion of the DCI investigation, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, who reviewed the case at the request of the Story County Attorney, examined the circumstances of the April 10th incident, including the actions of both Kevin Johnson and Officer David Johnson. The Attorney General’s Office determined Officer Johnson was justified under the laws of the State of Iowa in using deadly force. In its full report, the Attorney General’s Office stated:

“Officer Johnson was in a life or death situation created by Kevin Johnson’s actions. Had Kevin Johnson complied with the officer’s commands and not charged at him there would have been no need for Officer Johnson to use deadly force.”

Click here to view the complete findings of the Attorney General’s Office.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is also releasing the 911 call placed by Ms. Jennifer Johnson, requesting help at her residence.

Click here to listen to the 911 call from April 10, 2011.

Celebrating bin Laden's Death

Death Dance: O.K., be honest, what was your reaction when you found out U.S. Navy Seals had killed Osama bin Laden? Relief? Excitement? Joy? There were spontaneous celebrations all over the country, including one with several hundred students who gathered in the streets at Iowa State University in Ames. Is it right to celebrate someone else's death even if he is the accused mastermind of the worst attack on American soil? The Public Research Religion Institute released a survey today that shows 62% of Americans think it's wrong to celebrate a person's death, regardless of what the person did. Here are the findings.

What do you think? Did you celebrate? Is it wrong to celebrate?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vilsack Listening On-Line

I'm Listening: Those were Dr. Frasier Crane's words on his tv show in the 1990s.

YouTube let me down as I tried to find those words, but I did find his theme song. So we will be back after these messages...

Anyway...Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack sent out a message to Story County Democrats (where she will live as she gets set to run for Congress in Iowa's 4th District). Apparently, Democrats are also looking for a place to live for Vilsack's Campaign Manager Patrick Brown. So if you have a room...

Here's Vilsack's email:

Dear Story Dems,

When I announced that I was exploring the possibility of representing Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives, I was shocked -- and humbled -- by the outpouring of support that flooded in. People I’ve met this past week have made it clear that it’s important to listen to Iowa families about their priorities.

I have spent the last week traveling throughout Northwest Iowa, listening to people of the 4th district talk about their priorities. The stories they've shared have been truly touching. I have seen the innovation of Iowans from the research park in Ames to an ethanol plant in Galva to the wind farm near Jefferson.

I want to hear from you about your priorities and what's happening in your community.
Today, I am launching my online listening tour - use this form to share your story with me.

I need you -- we will only succeed if this is a people-powered campaign. Please tell your friends and family what we’re doing and invite them to sign up for our email list. Spread the word about our Facebook and Twitter presence -- you’re going to see me start tweeting from the road as I continue my listening tour.
Please join me on this journey. Your input, advice and support are crucial. Thanks again for everything you do and for sharing your ideas about your priorities and what we can do, together, for Iowa.

Christie Vilsack

PS. Don’t forget to join my online listening tour by clicking here.
Follow me on Twitter
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Paid for by Christie Vilsack for Iowa
PO Box 641
Ames, IA 50010

Monday, May 09, 2011

Iowans Fly to New Jersey to Meet with Christie

Chasing Christie: So what does this mean for the race for president in 2012? Gary Kirke, a prominent Iowa businessman and major Republican donor, is part of a group with about a half dozen other influential money men from the state who will fly to New Jersey to meet with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie has already said a gazillion times (yes, I counted) that he won't run for president in 2012. And he has told the Iowa group this, as well. Here's the one thing that might make this a little more interesting, though: Christie turned down the group's request last month to come see him. But this time he said, yes. And the group will fly to New Jersey to meet with him on May 31st.

Kirke said Iowans (and the nation, for that matter) shouldn't interpret this as meaning his group doesn't like the current crop of Republican candidates. He said they are all good candidates. But he thinks Christie would be a good campaigner and that would match him up better with President Barack Obama. Kirke told me, "Governor Christie, it doesn't look like he'll run this time. But if he does, I think he has a good chance of winning."

So if Kirke knows this going in that Christie probably won't run, what's the point? He said, "You never give up. I've worked against all types of odds all my life. You know, we still need to go over there and talk him into it, if we can...try to get the door open."

Kirke has already spoken with plenty of candidates this cycle: Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Herman Cain. What about Donald Trump? Kirke told me he called Trump to try to come out to New York for a visit. But Trump never called him back. Trump's assistant, Michael Cohen, did talk to Kirke when Cohen visited Des Moines last month.

Kirke said at first he considered Trump "a substantial guy". But he said Trump's speech last month in Las Vegas where he frequently dropped the f-bombs as he complained about the president "turned me off a little". Kirke continued, "I don't think a person who wants to be presidential should really be saying that kind of stuff in a public speech."

So is Kirke done with Trump? He wouldn't say that. Here's what he did say: "I haven't ruled him out. I don't see him as a big chance of winning the nomination."

So what does all of this mean? Kirke isn't saying the rest of the field isn't good enough, although some Iowa Republicans have told me privately they are concerned none of the announced field may be able to beat the president. This is coming, in particular, from the more moderate side of the party, which would rather see campaigning focused on fiscal issues like cutting the federal debt and shrinking the deficit, rather than whether two men should get married. But the fact that Kirke is talking at all, regardless of what he is saying about the rest of the current Republican field, speaks loudly it would seem. Kirke hasn't given a television interview in 7 years. Talking on tv is not something he normally likes to do. But he did this time, when Chris Christie was involved.

Here's the full interview with Kirke. I also included what Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has to say about the Christie recruiting trip.

For his part, Christie doesn't seem to be changing his public words about a run. He appeared this morning on a conservative talk radio show in Philadelphia. Christie hardly sounded like a man who was fired up about campaigning on a cold winter in Iowa. Here are two things that stood out: Christie said, "On a personal level, you've got to feel like you're ready to get on that airplane and fly all over the country and sleep in some bad beds in West Des Moines, Iowa." (Christie campaigned in West Des Moines last year on behalf of Republican Terry Branstad's campaign for governor. But what's wrong with West Des Moines' beds?!)

Christie also said, "When you're sleeping in the Des Moines Marriott and it's 18 below, wind's blowing and alarm clock goes off at 5...and they go, OK, it's time to go out to the factory to campaign, you gotta want it that badly."

Does this sound like a guy who wants to run for president in 2012? Or does he want to finish a term in office as New Jersey's governor first, do prominent speeches across the country, travel the world for some foreign policy experience and then run in 2016, if Republicans fail to take back the White House in 2012?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

First Lady's UNI Speech Written by U of I Grad

VIP Visit: Iowa gets some more VIP attention from the White House as First Lady Michelle Obama served as the graduation day speaker for the University of Northern Iowa Saturday. Apparently she had some help coming up with her words of inspiration for the UNI students...from a University of Iowa graduate. The Cedar Rapids Gazette has the story. What do Panthers' fans think of the help from the Hawkeye?!

Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson has an audio recording of the first lady's words.

Iowa Teen Doesn't Pay For Gas, Kills Friend, According to Police

Sad. Just Sad: An Iowa teen filled and fled and now his friend is dead because of his actions, according to Ames police. Police say 18-year-old Kaleb Hoversten had two friends in the car when he drove off from a gas station without paying, raced 90-miles-per-hour to try to get away from police, collided with an SUV, killing his friend. All for $52.62 in gas.

Here's the release from Ames PD:

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, at 1:07a.m., Ames Police received a report of a gas drive off at the Kum & Go located at 4506 Lincoln Way. It was reported that a white male wearing a black shirt and driving a purple Firebird had left the store without paying for $52.62 in gas. Shortly after receiving this call, an Ames police officer located a vehicle and driver matching this description traveling eastbound on Lincoln Way at Hayward. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle by activating his emergency lights and siren. After the officer activated his emergency lights and siren, the vehicle accelerated to a speed estimated to be in excess of 90 mph. At that point, the officer decreased his speed and followed the vehicle at a distance.

The driver continued at a high rate of speed eastbound on Lincoln Way. The Firebird then collided with a 1997 Toyota 4Runner at the intersection of Lincoln Way and Duff Avenue. The Firebird was occupied by three individuals. One of the occupants was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was identified as Brice Nelson, age 16, of Nevada. The driver of the Firebird was identified as Kaleb Hoversten, age 18, of Ames. Hoversten was treated and released from Mary Greeley Medical Center for minor injuries. The other passenger of the Firebird was identified as Tori Page, age 14, of Nevada. Page was transferred to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. The driver of the Toyota was identified as William Schroeder, age 38, of Ames. Schroeder was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Des Moines.

The driver of the Firebird, Kaleb Hoversten, was charged with Vehicular Homicide, a class C Felony, Driving Under Suspension, a simple misdemeanor and Theft 5th, a simple misdemeanor. Additional charges may be forthcoming.

Investigation continues by the Ames Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol. Anyone with information relating to this incident is encouraged to contact the Ames Police Department at (515) 239-5133

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

bin Laden Pictures

Death Watch: If the White House releases the gruesome photos of Osama bin Laden after U.S. troops shot and killed him, do you want to see them? bin Laden got shot twice, one time near the left eye. The pictures won't be pretty. Far from it. Media outlets all over the country should be having the debate now about what they will do. To show or not to show the pictures? Obviously, we don't know exactly how unsightly the pictures will be yet, as I write this. But it seems we all deserve to have the discussion. We don't normally show bodies, and for good reason, especially severely damaged bodies. But this would seem to be an exception, at least it seems that way to me. I think this is a picture both the American public and the world would want to see to both shut up the conspiracy theorists who think bin Laden isn't dead or died years ago and to offer that final piece of closure (sorry, I hate that saying but it's all I could think of in this case).

What do you think?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Funeral Scheduled for Fallen Iowa Soldier

James Justice: The Iowa National Guard just released details on funeral services for Staff Sergeant James Justice of Grimes. Justice died trying to save the lives of other injured soldiers in Afghanistan. Pretty safe to call him a hero, don't you think?

Here's what we know from the guard:

Funeral services have been scheduled for Staff Sgt. James Justice, 32, of Grimes, Iowa. Justice was killed by enemy small arms fire during combat operations on Saturday, April 23, in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan at approximately 10 a.m., local Afghanistan time. Wounded in the attack was Spc. Zachary Durham, 21, of Des Moines, Iowa. Both Soldiers were assigned to Troop A, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.

The attack happened during rescue operations of a U.S. Army OH-58 helicopter crew who were injured when their aircraft made a hard landing in Alah Say District, Kapisa Province,
Afghanistan. Justice and Durham responded to the scene as members of a Quick Reaction Force (“QRF”) and came under fire from enemy forces at the crash site. Justice died at the scene and Durham was evacuated to Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan for medical treatment and is currently receiving additional medical care at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The cause of the helicopter crash is unknown at this time and under investigation.

Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for Staff Sgt. Justice as follows:

Services will begin with a visitation from 4-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 2, at the IKM-Manning Middle School gymnasium, 755 Main St., Manilla. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m. for visitation prior to funeral), Wednesday, May 3, IKM-Manning High School gymnasium, 209 10th St., Manning. Graveside service and burial will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. at a later date.

James A. Justice was born June 30, 1978 in Manning, grew up in Manilla, and graduated from
Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla High School in 1997. While in high school he participated in football,
baseball and track. Justice enlisted as an Infantryman in Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th
Infantry, Iowa Army National Guard in September 1998 at Denison, Iowa and completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Benning, Ga. in May 1999. He previously deployed to Operation Desert Spring (Kuwait) in 2001, the Multinational Force Observer peacekeeping mission (Sinai Peninsula, Egypt) in 2003-2004, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006.

Prior to his mobilization, he was employed full-time by the Iowa National Guard at Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa. He loved to spend time with his daughter and his dog, Kinnick. He could often be found tinkering around the house and cooking for his family. James was an avid Iowa Hawkeye and Minnesota Vikings football fan. In his spare time he liked to golf, hang-out with his friends, and work on tractors with his dad.

He is survived by his wife, Amanda, and daughter, Caydence, of Grimes; his father and mother, Larry and Lillian Justice, brother Kenny Justice, sisters Denise Christensen and Christy (Kevin) Lingle, nieces Stephanie (Justin) Ahrenholtz, Jessica (Alisa) Lingle, Katie Lingle and Rebecca Lingle, all of Manilla; nephew Doug (Sarah) Ridgley and their children, Emirsann and Elliette, all of Omaha, Neb.; parents-in-law Bill and Sue Sand, brother–in-law Bob Buckli, and grandparents-in-law Archie and Carol Sand, all of Eau Claire, Wis.; brother-in-law Tim (Kacee) Buckli of Omaha, Neb.; sisters-in-law Amy (Clyde) Buckli-Loew of Chetek, Wis. and Annie (Tony) Luer of Fall Creek, Wis.; his dog, Kinnick; and many other friends and family. Justice was preceded in death by his grandparents Kenneth and Katherine Justice, and Maynard and Nora Gunnlaugsson; brother-in-law Lyle Christensen; aunt and uncle Alta and Merlin Nulle; and his best buddy, his dog Kado.

The family of Staff Sgt. James A. Justice issued the following statement:

“James Alan Justice meant many things to every person he encountered. He was the funny best friend named "Juice" that could be counted on when needing to be cheered up; the uncle who always knew just what to say and when to hand out hugs; the son who was his parents’ pride and joy; the father who loved his little girl more than anything in the world and couldn't wait to have more children; and the husband who loved to put a smile on his wife's face. One thing James was to everyone was the ultimate soldier. He loved the military and he looked forward to every deployment. While we were stunned and extremely saddened to learn of his tragic death, we all take solace knowing that James died doing what he loved best: serving his country beside the men and women he revered and trusted.

Through his four tours of duty, James had many accomplishments but above all, he made life-long friendships. The outpouring of support and prayers during this time from friends, fellow Soldiers and strangers alike has been astonishing, but proved what we all knew: that James was a one-of-a-kind guy and deeply loved by all who had the opportunity to know him and serve with him. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Iowa National Guard for the opportunities they have provided to James over the past 13 years. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge all of his fellow Iowa National Guard Soldiers both at home and serving overseas. May God be with you always.

We are sure that you can understand and will honor our request for family privacy at this time, as we are focused on working with military officials to return James' body home for military service and burial. We thank you for your thoughts, prayers and kindness at this extremely difficult time.

We are deeply saddened by our loss, but extremely proud of the honorable way he served America as a leader in the U.S. Army. We will remember him, his strength, his infectious sense of humor, his faith in God, and his love for his family, friends and country with great pride.”

Justice was part of the approximately 2,800 members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division deployed to Afhanistan. These Iowa Soldiers reported to their mobilization station at Camp Shelby, Miss. in July 2010 for additional training and preparation before departing for the Afghanistan theater of operations. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in November 2010, where the Soldiers provide full-spectrum operations in a combat theater, including lethal and non-lethal capabilities, support to Afghan National Army and Police units, and assistance to humanitarian relief initiatives.