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Iowa Politics Roundup: Branstad Budget Makes $360 Million in Cuts, Increases Casino Tax - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 28 January 2011 13:56

Santorum Sees No Rush to Declare Presidential Run

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said he’ll decide between now and the Iowa Straw Poll in August whether he’ll run for president and categorized himself as currently “sitting toward the bottom of the pack” among potential candidates.

“The drop-dead date, if you will, is the straw poll,” he said Tuesday in an interview with “Sometime between now and the straw poll, we’ll make a decision and we’ll go forward. I don’t see anybody trying to push down the starting gate at this point, and I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. Right now, it’s an opportunity for me to get around, talk to folks, learn, listen and get feedback as to whether they think this is a good idea or not. Test the waters.”

Santorum is the most frequent potential presidential candidate to visit Iowa in the past two years. Tuesday marked his ninth visit to the first-in-the-nation-caucus state since 2009; he’s spent at least 15 days here.

Santorum told and repeated to a sparse audience at the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association’s annual summit that he went from being a skeptic of renewable fuels such as ethanol to being a proponent after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I guess you could say I’ve had a mixed record on that,” he said in an interview. “Prior to 9/11, I was not a big fan of ethanol subsidies, but 2001 changed my mind on a lot of things, and one of them was trying to support domestic energy, and this is part of it.”

In his speech, Santorum later elaborated on how his position on the issue has evolved. He said the terrorist attacks would not have happened if it were not for oil.

“As Americans, we need to look at how we are going to blunt or thwart this threat to the security of our country,” he said. “And the obvious answer is to deprive it of the resources to be able to be a threat. And the way you do that is by reducing the demand for the product that they want to sell and that they can sell for their benefit. So post-9/11, I went from someone who was skeptical at best of developing domestic sources of energy to being a grand proponent of such things.”

Gingrich Urges Focus on American Energy Production

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich used a visit to Des Moines on Tuesday to tout his support for renewable energy and flex-fuel cars, to offer suggestions for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, and to confirm that he’ll make a decision in late February on whether he’ll run for president in 2012.

“Callista and I will sit down at the very end of February,” Gingrich said. “We’re looking at a lot of things. We’re trying to work through a lot of different things because we run four small businesses. And we’ll make a decision probably by the end of February on whether or not to launch an exploratory committee, and when we do we’ll announce it probably by March 1 or so.”

In his speech at the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association’s annual summit in Des Moines, Gingrich touted his renewable-energy credentials. He said the United States must maximize the development of flex-fuel cars. He called for replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with an environmental-solutions agency that focuses more on incentives and new technology and less on regulation.

And he said if the United States kept $400 billion a year at home that’s currently going out of the country to buy energy, we’d be dramatically better off.

“To be clear, I’m for all American energy,” Gingrich said. “I am for oil where appropriate, natural gas where appropriate, nuclear where appropriate, wind where appropriate, solar where appropriate, and I’m for renewable fuels and I’m for coal. We have more coal than Saudi Arabia has oil. So I’m for looking around and figuring out what’s the maximum way to get American energy to create American jobs to make Americans wealthier and strengthen American national security.”

But later in an interview with reporters, Gingrich acknowledged that he does not support federal ethanol subsidies.

“If they’re prepared to insist on a flex-fuel vehicle, and every car in America is capable of buying ethanol, I think the industry can stand on its own,” Gingrich said. “I’m not advocating the tax credit beyond this year; I’m advocating that we shift to a fully competitive ability for every gas station to be able to have ethanol and for every car that pulls up to be able to use ethanol. But they should also be able to use methane. It should be a genuine flex-fuel vehicle for national-security reasons.”

Before his speech, Gingrich also met with Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds in their formal office at the Capitol. He also planned to meet with Tea Party members during his visit to Iowa.

“I just listen to ’em,” Gingrich said. “We try to meet with leaders all across the country and listen to ’em and see what their thinking is and what their concerns are. I’m deeply committed to constitutional government. I’m deeply committed to returning power from Washington to the states and the people thereof under the 10th Amendment. I find that as a general rule, we have a great deal in common with Tea Party leaders.”

Bachmann Says Issues, Not Election, Prompted Iowa Visit

U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann did not give a straight answer about whether she will be running for president in 2012 during a visit to Des Moines but said she was there to “be a part of the conversation” about the big issues in the 2012 election.

“I didn’t come here for personal ambition,” said Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican. “I don’t feel pressure to make a decision [about running for president] any time soon.”

Speculation has been rising that the three-term congresswoman could seek the Republican bid for president in the 2012 election once she announced plans to travel to Iowa.

She spoke at an Iowans for Tax Relief fundraiser, predicting that the significant issues in the 2012 presidential election will be the U.S. health-care system and the country’s “overwhelming debt.”

Bachmann expressed fears about the possible collapse of the private insurance industry, which “would have a big impact in the Des Moines area. People are getting less and paying more.”

Bachmann criticized “Obamacare,” government ownership of mortgage companies and automobile producers, and growing government oversight over fields such as student loans. It is “stunning” what has occurred in the past two years, said Bachmann, who added that the “answer is not with political figures”, but with people.

Bachmann compared President Obama’s policies over the past two years to a form of slavery.

“It’s slavery of a different kind – a bondage to debt,” said Bachmann.

“If we want to kill Obamacare and socialized medicine, it must be done in 2012,” said Bachmann. “We need a bold, strong, constitutional candidate.”

She applauded Iowans for ousting three of the Supreme Court justices who signed on to a decision to legalize gay marriage and for electing a new Republican governor and lieutenant governor last year.

“You rock here in the state of Iowa!” said Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo.

This weekly summary comes from, an online government and politics news service.

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