Two factions of the Iowa Republican Party may be setting past conflicts aside and uniting for the 2014 election.
Governor Terry Branstad was a featured speaker at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames that was hosted by Bob Vander Plaats — Branstad’s 2010 Republican rival.
Robert Cramer — chairman of the board for The Family Leader, the organization Vander Plaats now leads — told the crowd gathered for the day-long event in Ames that the organization has “been building a bridge” with Branstad and Kim Reynolds, the lieutenant governor.
“What I feel like our calling is now is to start the communication and the fact that the governor and lieutenant governor are here is a great symbol that that’s going to work,” Cramer said. “And what I mean is that we need to start communicating so that we understand where they’re coming from, they understand where we’re coming from — so that we can work together on all the things that we agree on.”
Earlier this year Branstad nominated Cramer to serve on the board that governs the state universities. but Cramer lost a confirmation vote in the Iowa Senate, largely because of Cramer’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Governor Branstad stood by me. He defended me. He stood up and stood up to those who were saying things that weren’t true about me and so I really appreciated that and I want to give him a round of applause for taking a stand for me,” Cramer said, and the crowd applauded.
Cramer and Reynolds just returned from a mission trip to South Africa.
“To see Kim Reynolds washing the feet of kids and putting shoes on them, praying with some elderly ladies, holding babies — she just jumped in enthusiastically to serve God and to serve people…She and her husband have grown really close with our family and so I’d appreciate it if you would give a big welcome to my friend, Kim Reynolds,” Cramer told the crowd.
AUDIO of remarks from Cramer and Reynolds, 10:00
In June of 2010, after Branstad won the GOP’s nomination for governor and announced he wanted Reynolds as his running mate, backers of Vander Plaats attending the party’s state convention nominated him to be lieutenant governor. Reynolds won the vote that day, but the rift between Vander Plaats backers and Branstad supporters hadn’t shown such public signs of healing until today.
“I want to thank you, too, for allowing the governor and I to be here today,” Reynolds said as she began her short speech at the summit. “It is an honor to be a witness to such a significant crowd of committed soldiers to the cause of family.”
Branstad’s speech was interrupted a dozen times by applause and cheers.
“I want to say again how much I appreciate the invitation and the opportunity to be with you. God bless you all,” Branstad said to close his seven-minute speech, earning more applause.
AUDIO of Branstad’s remarks, 8:00
However, Vander Plaats himself did not mention Branstad or Reynolds by name when he spoke to the crowd — so it was not a public endorsement of Branstad’s bid for reelection. Congressman Steve King and Senator Chuck Grassley were the other two Iowa Republican elected officials who spoke at today’s event and Vander Plaats did introduce King and Grassley this morning.