September 1, 2015

Trump blasts ‘impotent’ DC politicians, says ‘silent majority’ backing his campaign (AUDIO)

Donald Trump at his event in Dubuque.

Donald Trump at his event in Dubuque.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a huge crowd in Dubuque tonight they are part of the “silent majority” that has catapulted him to the top of the polls — and he made a plea for them to stick with him when the voting starts five months from now.

“You know, it’s one thing to have the ‘summer of Trump’,” Trump said. “It doesn’t mean anything unless we win both the nomination and we’ve got to beat Hillary or whoever’s running.”

The crowd cheered Trump’s vow to stop eating Oreos because Nabisco is moving production from Chicago to Mexico and they cheered Trump’s promise to tax any foreign-made cars that are imported into the U.S.

“Who would you rather have negotiating against China, against Iran — what a deal that is, o.k., you talk about incompetent people — against anybody: Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton or Trump?” Trump asked.

The crowd roared his name, and then began chanting “Trump” over and over.

Trump called Republican members of congress “weak people” who have failed to follow through on their campaign promises, like “knocking out” ObamaCare.

“I don’t know. There’s something about Washington. They look at these beautiful buildings, these beautiful halls and all of a sudden they become impotent. Is that an appropriate word? I think so. It doesn’t work. Put those two together,” Trump said, and the crowd laughed and cheered. “Something happens to ’em and all of a sudden they’re not fighters.”

AUDIO of Trump’s remarks in Dubuque, 55:00

Sam Clovis, a former Sioux City radio talk show host and Morningside College economics professor who ran for the U.S Senate last year, has signed on as Trump’s national co-chair and a senior policy advisor. Clovis introduced Trump to the Dubuque crowd.

“It’s a time to choose an alternative to electing the same kind of people over and over again and getting the same results,” Clovis said. “It’s time to disrupt the status quo.”

Clovis had been working for Rick Perry, but was among the Perry campaign operatives who were asked to continue working without pay. Clovis told reporters at a news conference before Tuesday night’s rally that he holds Perry in high regard, but left the Perry campaign as it transitions to a new phase. Trump took questions from reporters for more than half an hour and engaged in a lengthy and sometimes terse exchange over immigration policy with a reporter from Univision. Early in the news conference, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos stood and tried to engage with Trump and Trump repeatedly told Ramos to “sit down” because he had called upon another reporter to ask a question. A security guard escorted Ramos from the room, but Ramos returned later, then Ramos and Trump engaged in a testy, five-minute exchange on the subject.

AUDIO of Trump’s news conference, 32:00

(Photo by Asya Akca)

Iowa State Fair tops old attendance mark


The Grand Concourse at the Iowa State Fair.

A record number of people attended the 2015 Iowa State Fair which ended Sunday. “We had an estimated attendance of 1,117,398 for our 11 days of the 2015 fair,” spokesperson MindyWilliamson said. That broke the previous record from 2008.

Attendance at the ’08 fair hit 1,109,150. Back in April, Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill into law which mandates schools start classes no earlier than August 23rd.

“The fact that schools started after the state fair, I think, definitely played a factor,” Williamson said. “If you looked around the fairgrounds, there were a lot of families enjoying weekdays, not just the weekends.” In addition, more students participated in FFA and 4-H activities at this year’s fair, according to Williamson.

She also gives credit to popular grandstand acts and good weather. “Mother Nature cooperated pretty well this year. We did have some rain on Tuesday and a good shower on Thursday night as well,” Williamson said. “Our attendance on Tuesday was 75,000, but our weekends definitely made up for that.”

The fair had seven days with more than 100,000 people. There were only two days with at least 100,000 people during last year’s fair. The 2016 Iowa State Fair is scheduled for August 11-21.



Protests over pigs, debates and citizenship confront candidates at the State Fair


Protestors shouted “citizenship now” at both Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal’s Soap Box appearances.

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie used all of his 20 minutes on The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox today to take 16 questions from the State Fair crowd.

And Christie employed his trademark combative style to swat back at a few protesters, including animal rights activists who tried to disrupt his appearance.

“I have to tell you the truth when something like that happens and I’m here in Iowa, man, I feel right at home. It feels like I’m back in Jersey for a couple of minutes, so thank you, Iowa, for doing that,” Christie said to cheers from the crowd.

Christie also took a swipe at some of his competitors for changing their positions on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“Here’s what I say to the other candidates: Make up your mind,” Christie said. “Don’t say one thing in Iowa and say something different in New Hampshire and something different in South Carolina. You’ve got a position. Tell the people of the country what your position is…I’m for the Renewable Fuels Standard and that won’t change and when I’m president, we will enforce the law that’s on the books — all the laws that are on the books.”

Animal rights activists storm the stage as Chris Christie was speaking.

Animal rights activists storm the stage as Chris Christie was speaking.

A group of protesters standing at the back of the crowd chanted “Citizenship now!” throughout Christie’s appearance. The majority of the crowd cheered this declaration from Christie: “Well, if I’m president of the United States, I don’t think anybody who knowingly came here illegally should become a citizen. I just don’t believe they should become a citizen.”

The same group of protesters chanted an hour later during GOP candidate Bobby Jindal’s turn on the Soapbox stage. Jindal at three different points in his speech addressed the protesters directly,

“If you want to come to our country, come legally, learn English, adopt our values,” Jindal said to cheers. “And when you get here, roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

Jindal accused “big business” of sending the protesters and he told the crowd his parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from India, did it “the right way” and became naturalized citizens.

Earlier in the morning, a smaller group of protesters at the State Fair tried to confront the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, arguing the party should have more debates featuring the candidates vying for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The group was in place well before DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz arrived at The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.

Protestors calling for more debates.

Protestors calling for more debates.

“Hi, we’re collecting signatures to pressure the Democratic National Committee to allow more debates. They’re only hosting six debates in this election cycle and candidates are restricted from attending any outside debates,” one of the protesters repeated to passersby.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was greeted with cheers and some boos when she began speaking — and when she ended.

“We want debates,” the protesters shouted over and over.

Kim Frederick of Houston shouted back: “We want you guys to shut up.”

Frederick periodically yelled out criticism during former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech at the Fair earlier in the week. On Saturday, Frederick said she didn’t try to “shut down” Perry’s whole speech.

“I didn’t do that,” she said, in reference to the “Allow Debates” protesters. “That’s inappropriate.”

Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, has been chair of the Democratic National Committee since December of 2011. This is the first time during her tenure that Democrats have had a competitive presidential race and the party has sanctioned six debates among the 2016 candidates.

(Photos by Asya Akca)

July unemployment rate moves up half a percent

Workforce-DevelopmentThe state unemployment rate moved up slightly in July to 3.8 percent after dropping to 3.7 percent in June. Iowa Workforce Development deputy director, Ed Wallace, says the change was actually only half a percent that was rounded up in the final figure. “We continue to add jobs in virtually all sectors, but had a slight uptick over the past month,” Wallace says.

The move up in the unemployment numbers ends a trend that saw the number holding steady of decreasing. “This is the first slight uptick in almost six months. We continue to add jobs in a lot of different sectors. It’s our strong hope that we’ll continue to increase the number of working Iowans across the state,” Wallace says. The department’s report shows nonfarm employment gained 8,100 jobs in July. Wallace says even with the increase in jobs, movement among temporary workers was part of the reason for the slight change in the unemployment rate.

“Some of the firms that hire temporary workers in various industries had some of those workers transition into different positions or transition to different places. So we saw a slight job in the number of temporary workers and somewhat of a weaker showing in professional and business services,” according to Wallace. He says the transition into the school year for college students and teachers also impacted the job numbers.”Some of the students who had been in the service industry are headed back to school. However, we have seen an uptick in educators hired over the last month — primarily due to school districts hiring across the great state.”

There have been some announcements of job losses recently, most notably the closing of the Tyson plant in Denison, which leaves 400 people out of work. Wallace says those jobs may not show up in the unemployment numbers as other jobs are available to those workers. “Its our hope with the Tyson plant closing and other closings that we are able to transition many of those workers in to other positions — because there are many employers who are hiring in the regions that have layoffs,” Wallace says.

Wallace says the state still remains close to the full unemployment level, which is 3.5 percent. He says Iowa is in better shape than one year ago in July when the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, and the Iowa rate remains below the national rate of 5.3 percent.


House GOP chooses Upmeyer as speaker-select, first woman to hold the post (AUDIO)

Linda Upm

Linda Upmeyer holding a press conference at the Iowa House.

Republicans in the Iowa House have just elected the first woman speaker of the house in state history. Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake will become speaker in January, when the 2016 Iowa legislature convenes.

“It’s really an exciting day for me on many levels,” Upmeyer told reporters late this morning.

Upmeyer’s late father, Del Stromer served as House Speaker in the early 1980s and Upmeyer grew emotional this morning as she talked about him.

“My dad was an amazing man and so it’s really something to live up to knowing what a good job he did as speaker, watching that and being able to follow in his footsteps,” Upmeyer said, “and I think that there are many things that I learned from him that will hold me in good stead as I do this work.”

Harriet Stromer, Upmeyer’s mother, served as a secretary to her husband during his 23-year legislative career.

“This morning, my mother gave me the lapel pin that was a gavel that she’d given him when he was first elected speaker,” Upmeyer said. “So it’s just a very special moment for our family.”

Upmeyer, though, does not plan to wear that pin until she formally becomes speaker. Her title today is “Speaker-select” and Upmeyer said her new status as the legislature’s first female speaker may be an inspiration to other women to seek public office.

“But you know, I’ve never felt like there was a glass ceiling that I needed to break,” Upmeyer said. “However, in visiting with the public as I go out and recruit candidates and help members campaign, it’s my hope and I know it’s true that there’s a young lady out there somewhere that is going to say: ‘I can do this, too.'”

Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection in 2016 and will be stepping down from his role in January. The 57 Republicans who serve in the Iowa House met this morning to elect Upmeyer as Paulsen’s successor. She will become the top-ranking Republican in the legislature. Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, unsuccessfully challenged Upmeyer today, to send a message that things need to be run differently in the legislature.

“I feel like I’m in that movie, Groundhog Day,” Byrnes told reporters. “…It’s the same leadership in the House, the same leadership in the Senate. It’s the same governor and the parameters just feel like they’re just set and we can’t move from them. We need new ideas. We need new energy, we need to be able to accept other people’s concepts and infuse those in and I hope that, you know, she can do that.”

According to Byrnes, rank-and-file legislators are upset with missed deadlines, as the legislature has failed to set state school aid levels on time and met for weeks past its scheduled adjournment date. Byrnes also said Iowans are soured by the hyper-partisanship they see from statehouse politicians.

“We’re not lighting the world on fire with Iowans right now and we need to do a better job,” Byrnes said.

Upmeyer told reporters she’ll address the concerns Brynes raised.

“We never should be comfortable with where we’re at,” Upmeyer said. “We always should be striving for innovation and to do things smarter and better and so I absolutely applaud that.”

AUDIO of Upmeyer speaking with reporters after her election as speaker-select

House Republicans are keeping the vote-count on the speaker’s race secret. Representative Chris Hagenow of Windsor Height was chosen by his Republican peers to serve as House Majority Leader in January. The majority leader is the number two Republican in the House and runs the House debate schedule. Upmeyer has held that job for the past five years. Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, was among those who emerged from the private meeting of House Republicans to comment on Upmeyer’s election.

“I think she’s proven herself as majority leader to step into the post of speaker,” Heaton said.

Representative Linda Miller, a Republican from Davenport, said the other Republican women in the house are the chairs of committees and didn’t want to move into leadership posts.  Miller sees Upmeyer’s advancement, though, as a recruiting tool for female candidates.

“Hopefully just by virtue of Linda being the speaker, that kind of notoriety will actually help us recruit more women or at least have them think about the job,” Miller told reporters. “Women have to be asked. Men never have to be asked to run for the job. Never.”

Twenty-five years ago, when Republicans won majority control of the Iowa House, Mary Lundby of Marion sought the job of House Speaker, but lost that election. Lundy soon ran for the senate and later became Senate Co-Majority Leader, the first woman to be elected by her peers to a top leadership spot in the legislature.

(Photo by Asya Akca)

Twenty arrested in central Iowa prostitution sting

Police-lightsPolice in central Iowa have arrested 20 people in a nearly 12-hour undercover prostitution sting.

The sting, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, was set up “after complaints from local business owners and citizens” about activity at a Des Moines area motel, although authorities aren’t revealing where the motel is in Polk County. The sting started at noon on Tuesday and ended just before midnight.

Nineteen of the people arrested were from central Iowa. One 27-year-old man listed Phoenix, Arizona, as his home address. A 31-year-old sports reporter for The Des Moines Register and a 54-year-old from Dallas Center who is a city councilman were among those arrested. Two of those arrested did not have an I-D and police say they have been unable to verify their identities.

The Des Moines Register is reporting another eight people were arrested at a Ramada Inn near the Des Moines Airport and charged with prostitution on Tuesday as well.

Perry dismisses Trump’s call to ‘build a wall’ as ‘political rhetoric’

Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Soap Box.

Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register’s Soap Box.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry used some frank language during his speech this morning at the Iowa State Fair.

“Washington, D.C. has decided that they are the fount of all wisdom. Washington, D.C. has decided that all decisions need to be made there. And you know what my answer to Washington, D.C. is?” Perry asked the crowd. “I’m mad as hell and I’m going to do something about it to change it.”

Perry mentioned his hometown of Paint Creek, Texas, often during his speech on The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox and presented himself as someone who could restore the American Dream for disillusioned Americans.

“We’re not going to do it unless we deconstruct that crap that’s going on in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said, to applause from the crowd. “I’m telling you, that is the challenge of our lifetime and you need a leader who understands how to do that.”

AUDIO of Perry’s speech at the fair

Perry repeated his campaign theme, that he was a “competent, confident leader” during his 14 year run as governor of Texas. And Perry told the state fair crowd that voters have had a “belly full” of the federal bureaucracy.

“I know that we can put in place policies that will free Americans from overtaxation,” Perry said, “and it starts with breaking up that cabal in Washington, D.C.”

Perry told reporters later that he’s offering a campaign “of solutions” to issues like immigration rather the “just build a wall” idea Donald Trump has advanced.

“That may be good political rhetoric, but the real focus is on how are you going to secure the border,” Perry said.

Perry advocates strategic placement of border patrol agents “at the right places”, fencing in “metropolitan areas” and aerial monitoring.

“Aviation assets that can fly from Tijuana to El Paso to Brownsville. That’s 1933 miles. This is an incredibly long border and looking down 24/7 with the technology we have available today, identifying activities that are clearly illegal or suspicious and fast response teams that can go there at that particular point in time,” Perry said.

Perry suggested Trump’s call for a wall is inferior to that kind of response to security at the southern border.

“Lay it out and use your common sense about which one of these can happen quicker, which one is more effective,” Perry said. “If you just build a wall and you don’t have the other aspects, then all you’ve done is spend a lot of time and a lot of money.”

There was a lone heckler during Perry’s speech and Kim Frederick of Houston spoke with reporters during and after Perry’s appearance.

“I’m from Texas and I’ve just got to say that’s a load,” she said as she walked away at the conclusion of Perry’s speech. “That’s a big old load.”

Frederick periodically yelled about the high rate of uninsured Texans and the state’s education record during Perry’s remarks.

(Photo by Asya Akca)