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Iowa Politics Roundup: Iowa Straw Poll Gets a Boost with Fox News Debate - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 17 December 2010 11:01

Santorum Plans to Hire Iowa Staffer in Early 2011

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) – one of the most upfront about his ambitions to run for president in 2012 – indicated Wednesday night to members of the Quad City Tea Party that he would soon put a staffer in Iowa.

This was Santorum’s eighth visit to Iowa. On his way out the door at Wednesday night’s event in Bettendorf, Santorum was asked, “When will you put a staffer in Iowa?”

“Soon,” he said.

“How soon is ‘soon’ – in the first quarter?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile. “Some time in the first three months.”

The move would put Santorum on equal footing with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who in September became the first 2012 prospect to hire a full-time Iowa staffer in advance of the August 2011 Iowa straw poll and February 2012 Iowa caucuses kicking off the nation’s presidential-nominating process.

Sixty people turned out at the Bettendorf Public Library on a cold, snowy night to hear Santorum’s opinions and stands on the issues. Santorum told the group that he was in Washington, D.C., last week, “and you are very much on their minds there.”

Typical of potential presidential candidates in the early stages of a campaign, the former senator gave the crowd a short biography of himself. “I wonder if I can make a contribution to the country [again], so I’m out kicking tires, and now it’s your turn to kick this tire,” he said.

Santorum on Wednesday told how a social conservative can win votes from independents in the middle.

“As you look across the country, social conservatives won in 2010,” he said. “I think Americans believe in strong communities, strong families, respect for human life, and I think a candidate who holds those views will do very well in America.”

And Santorum gave his assessment of how he compares philosophically with other potential 2012 presidential candidates. “I would suspect that my voting record and Newt Gingrich’s voting record are pretty close,” he said. “I might be a little more different than [U.S. Senator John] Thune [R-South Dakota].”

Santorum declared that America is on a road to fiscal insolvency.

“It’s about duty, and we all need to pitch in,” he proclaimed. “If we’re told the truth about where we are economically and we lay out a vision on what we need to do to get our house in order, then we’ll see the opportunity that will be presented when our economy is restored. We have to create a better opportunity for America through better management of our resources in Washington.”

When asked why some politicians didn’t have the courage of their convictions, Santorum told these Tea Party activists that they play a very important role. “You are the backbone of Congress,” he said. “They’ll stand up if you stand with them.”

GOP Considers Changes to Four-Year-Old Preschool

Iowa House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer this week questioned the value of the state’s program for preschool for four-year-olds, saying that the state shouldn’t subsidize preschool for families that can afford it, and that there were other avenues available before the program for families that couldn’t.

“It’s not that it does nothing for kids,” Upmeyer (R-Garner) said Wednesday at an forum featuring legislative leaders. “By the time you get to third or fourth grade, you see no difference. So especially children in poverty, children in homes without the resources, without the perhaps parenting. But children that are perhaps at risk in some way, those kids absolutely benefit, and those kids absolutely received that benefit before.”

Upmeyer said legislators have also never been able to get data on how many kids in Iowa were not able to access preschool before the program began, and she said families that weren’t able to send their children to preschool before the program began still had access to Head Start and empowerment dollars.

“We started this on a premise that in my mind is faulty,” Upmeyer said. “You need good research and good reasons to do what you do. This is a very expensive program.”

Upmeyer said the state should go back to look at how things were done before the statewide four-year-old preschool program began. “What we’ve essentially done is put those kids into an additional grade that we’ve added to the K-12 education and put it on the backs of property-tax payers,” she said.

Incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Des Moines) sharply disagreed with Upmeyer, saying studies have shown children that go to preschool are more likely to be successful later in life.

“I thought that the concept was pretty well settled, that the more you invest in education, particularly for three- and four-year-olds, the better you do in that age group, that life will be much better for that individual later on,” McCarthy said.

But Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) said McCarthy is wrong about the research, and “it’s very, very questionable whether there is benefit.”

“That said, whether we call it an investment, whether we call it spending, it’s taxpayers’ dollars, and I think we need to look: Are we holding these folks accountable, and are we getting what we expect to get?” McKinley said.

Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) said he believes there will still be a four-year-old=preschool program at the end of the 2011 legislative session. “I predict our caucus in the Senate will be very strong, probably draw a line in the sand on that issue,” he said.

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

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