The top Republican in the Iowa House was a key backer of Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House. Romney dropped out of the race this month and this past week Romney endorsed John McCain. During a Friday appearance on Iowa Public Television, House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City was asked if he was ready to follow Romney’s lead.
“Do you endorse Mr. McCain as well?” Rants was asked by Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson. “Uh, I’ll be supporting Senator McCain,” Rant replied. Mike Glover of the Associated Press said: “There’s enthusiasm.”
Rants continued: “Look, he’s the nominee…I would prefer John McCain over Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama any day.” Glover followed up: “Is that the level of excitement among Republicans for this nominee?”
Rants offered this response: “I think when we finally find out who the Democratic nominee is and we start exploring their record and their position and we get past this sort of this, ‘We believe in change,’ whatever change is and, ‘We believe in hope,’ whatever hope is — when we really start talking about the issues, I think Republicans will come home.”
Rants even suggested Republicans will be “fired up” about the fall election, using the phrase Obama has recited over and over in Iowa and on down the campaign trail.
As for why Romney lost, Rants offers this analysis. “We didn’t respond early enough, I think, to Mike Huckabee’s surge. A lot of people will go back and say, you know, we shouldn’t have played in the (Iowa Republican Party’s) Straw Poll (in Ames this past August) after some of the other names got out like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani,” Rants says. “…I think what makes a difference in some of those early states particularly like New Hampshire if when you have…Independents and Democrats who vote in a Republican primary you don’t always get the true Republican candidate.”
Rants expects Iowa to be a “swing state” in the fall election — meaning the race between McCain and whomever Democrats nominate will be too close to call in Iowa.