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Iowa Politics Roundup: Collins Considers Bid for RNC Chair - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 26 November 2010 12:40

Huckabee Woos Iowa Social Conservatives

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Sunday congratulated Iowans who successfully ousted three state Supreme Court justices and said it “may have been the most important election in America” on November 2.

“I am here also today to congratulate the people of Iowa for their decision in what was a remarkable election, an election that resonated all across America,” Huckabee said. “And that is to say that the judicial branch is – as are all branches of government – subject to the ultimate bosses in a society like ours, the people.”

Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Republican Iowa caucuses, was in Des Moines to deliver the keynote address at the Iowa Family Policy Center’s annual “Celebrate the Family” fundraiser at a church in Beaverdale. Organizers said the event drew a crowd of more than 1,500 people.

The former Arkansas governor gave no clues whether he would seek the Republican nomination for president again in 2012, but said he is definitely not on a timetable.

Though 2012 was not the focus of his keynote, the former Arkansas governor did reflect some on his 2008 campaign and the difficulties he encountered. Huckabee said that he felt faith-based voters are taken less seriously.

“Faith-based voters are sometimes sneered at, laughed at,” Huckabee said. “I got used to it during the presidential debates. I would go to the debates and some of the candidates would get 16, 18, 20 minutes to talk. I’d get three or four. And when I’d finally get a question it would be, ‘Oh, let’s throw you a religious question.’ Somehow they overlooked the fact that I had governed a state longer than anyone on the stage for either the Democrats or the Republicans. ... It was, ‘You were a pastor.’”

Huckabee said he is not ashamed of being a pastor because it means he understands the lives of people. “But it was a way of trying to denigrate that somehow people of faith are just a little bit intellectually inferior to people who don’t believe anything,” he said.

Huckabee also said many of America’s economic problems can be tied to problems with the family. In what he called “the dad deficit,” Huckabee said roughly $300 billion is spent by the federal government each year to prop up single-parent households whose fathers walked out. He also asserted that many of the personal traits that led to the failure of the banking industry and to the economic downturn are taught at the family level.

“I don’t care how much we change the tax code and tax policy; we will never be able to get our economy righted because what has wronged it is not just an economic issue,” he said. “It is an issue that goes to the very heart of what the family leader is, like it or not.”

The approximately 1,500 who attended Sunday’s event matched the number that attended the Republican Party of Iowa’s Ronald Reagan Dinner in September headlined by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, another potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

Palin Returning to Iowa

Palin’s new book America by Heart will be released Tuesday, and she’ll return to Iowa on Saturday for her third visit in the past year.

Palin will be at the Borders bookstore in West Des Moines from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. She’ll also make a stop at the Walmart Supercenter store in Spirit Lake from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 2. The stops come as part of her nine-day, 16-stop signing tour.

Iowa GOP Gets New Executive Director

Chad Olsen, the veteran Republican operative who led the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2010 coordinated-campaign operations as its Iowa Victory Director, is the new executive director of the party.

No formal announcement was made, but Olsen and Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) Chair Matt Strawn acknowledged that Olsen was confirmed by the State Central Committee on November 13.

Olsen is a father of two who lives in Panora. He’s worked as the Iowa GOP’s Victory Director since mid-April and previously worked in the Iowa GOP’s political department. He was a key organizer of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, directed Steve Forbes’ Iowa campaign in 2000, led Steve Sukup’s primary gubernatorial campaign in 2002, and was the state director for Tommy Thompson’s presidential exploratory committee in 2007.

Strawn announced earlier this month that Jim Anderson, the party’s executive director and a former deputy political director at the Republican National Committee, would leave Iowa after about a year in the job to return to Washington, DC. Prior to that, Jeff Boeyink served as executive director before leaving to become Terry Branstad’s campaign manager.

Activist Karger Looks to Raise Awareness of Gay Issues with Presidential Run

California gay activist Fred Karger used a visit to Des Moines to try to establish his credentials as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, naming a state director for his exploratory committee and launching his first statewide cable TV ad.

“The fact that if I run, I would be the first openly gay candidate in the history of the country, gives me a reason to be here,” Karger said during a sparsely attended press conference at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. “I’m doing it to raise the issue of LGBTQ equality, to set an example. ... I’m probably not going to win it.”

Karger, 60, launched a 90-second TV ad called “Independence Day” that’s airing on Fox News in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities, Mason City, Ames, Burlington, and Fort Dodge. He said he paid less than $1,000 to air the ad for less than a week.

He also named Nathan Treloar as state director of his exploratory committee. Treloar is a former communications director for the Republican Party of Iowa and a former House Majority Fund finance director who also worked on Greg Ganske’s U.S. Senate campaign and on Bob Vander Plaats’ first gubernatorial campaign.

This was Karger’s fifth trip to Iowa this year. He said he’ll decide in the next several months whether he’ll throw his hat in the ring.

Karger, who was an activist on Proposition 8 in California, has never run for office but said he’s run dozens of campaigns. He acknowledged that he made four contributions totaling $2,300 to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and also backed former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, his second choice.

“I’m not walking away from that,” he said. “I’ve supported Republicans and Democrats, not just voting but with my checkbook. I was a Hillary Clinton supporter last time. I was so disenchanted with the Republican Party that I didn’t support any of the Republicans, but I liked her.”

Karger, who calls himself an “independent Republican,” stood in front of a banner that read “Fred Who?” and insisted that he’s a serious and credible candidate. He said he hopes to attract the 37 percent of independent voters in Iowa and 42 percent of independent voters in New Hampshire who are unhappy with the two parties and have instead gone to the center.

“I think that the public is kind of hungry for that type of leadership right now,” he said. “I hope to bring back a lot of people that have left.”

This weekly summary comes from IowaPolitics.com, an online government and politics news service. Reporter Andrew Duffelmeyer and other correspondents contributed to this report.

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