November 28, 2015

Southwest Iowa farmer carves half-an-acre Sanders ‘yard sign’ in field

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (file photo)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (file photo)

A southwest Iowa farmer has carved the first name of his favorite presidential candidate into the landscape.

“I had a couple of yard signs stolen and I was out on my tractor there that day and it just kind of hit me. I though: ‘Geez. I’ve got a perfect place for this.’ It’s soybean stubble which would make it show up good, over next to the road. So I just thought: ‘I’ll go try it. It probably won’t work. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just scratch through it if it doesn’t’ and it just seemed to turn out perfect,” says 68-year-old Michael Pattavina of Clarinda, a Bernie Sanders supporter.

He didn’t map out a plan for the “Bernie” in his bean field. Pattavina just used a chisel plow on the back of his tractor to cut a seven-foot-wide swath as he wrote out the six letters in his field.

“It probably took me about 20 to 30 minutes to do it,” Pattavina says. “The ‘B’ is about 60 feet tall.”

Pattavina’s “flat Bernie” billboard is the talk of the town.

“Whenever I see somebody on the street, they talk to me about it and say they really like it and everything — even the conservatives,” Pattavina says. “I might mention that I live in an ultra-conservative area.”

The sign can clearly be seen from the air, as the name “Bernie” covers about half an acre in Pattavina’s field. Pattavina says he didn’t do it “to be popular” but he would love to hear from his favorite candidate at some point.

“It only cost me a few cents for the fuel and a little bit of time and that’s exactly what Bernie’s all about,” Pattavina says.

The farm Pattavina lives on has been in his family for 158 years and Pattavina has farmed the ground all his life.

(Reporting by Alisa Nelson of the Missourinet)

New poll finds little change in Democratic presidential race in Iowa

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in Iowa is “virtually unchanged” from October.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the support of 51 percent of Iowa likely Democratic Caucus goers. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is nine points behind, at 42 percent.

“Not much has changed, but there’s news in that,” assistant poll director Peter Brown says. “Essentially Secretary Clinton has taken a solid, not overwhelming, but solid lead in the Caucuses and for her, that’s just fine.”

Brown says the only way Clinton will lose the nomination would be if Sanders is able to beat her in the early states of Iowa or New Hampshire.

“That might allow him to generate some momentum and perhaps, then, create some problems for Secretary Clinton,” Brown says. “But if she stays 10 points ahead of him, whether or not some pundit says: ‘Well that’s not a very big win,’ sometimes in politics, a win really is a win.”

Pollsters asked likely Iowa Caucus goers to rate which candidate they believe would best manage the economy.

“Historically, the candidate who is judged the best able to handle the economy generally always wins the Democratic nomination and yet we have here is a situation here where Senator Sanders is viewed as best able to handle the economy,” Brown says. “It doesn’t seem to be making a difference in the horse race numbers.”

The poll found Martin O’Malley, the other Democrat running for president, had the support of four percent of likely Iowa Caucus-goers.

Quinnipiac University conducted its poll from November 16th through the 20th and released the results for the Republican presidential race in Iowa yesterday. Likely participants in both party’s caucuses were asked about a key topic on the campaign trail.

“Eighty percent of Iowans who are going to vote in the Republican Caucuses say they don’t want any Syrian refugees allowed in the United States or Iowa,” Brown says. “Conversely, 80 percent of Democrats say: ‘Sure, we as a country should admit them.'”

Brown says it shows how strongly this issue splits along party lines.

“The question of whether the United States and Iowa should take in Syrian refugees is a great way to see the huge division among Iowans,” Brown says.

A national poll conducted last week by Bloomberg Politics found 53 percent of all Americans oppose admitting Syrian refugees and Brown says that shows independent voters are leaning against allowing refugees from Syrian into the U.S.

Rubio backs RFS, but says it should expire as scheduled in 2022

Marco Rubio (file photo)

Marco Rubio (file photo)

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he supports the so-called ethanol mandate — now that it’s in place, but he favors letting it expire seven years from now.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard is not something that I would have voted for had I been in the senate, but it is now existing law and I think it would be unfair to simply yank it away from people that have made investments based on its existence,” Rubio says. “So my argument is we should allow it to continue until it expires and hopefully by then the industry will be able to sustain itself.”

The Renewable Fuels Standard is set to end in 2022. The Obama Administration has a November 30th deadline to release the federally-required ethanol production levels not only for 2016, but this year and last year, too, since previous deadlines were missed.

Rubio has just wrapped up a five-day tour of the state. During a stop this week in Carroll, Rubio argued expanding overseas trade is important to rural America. Rubio, who is a senator from Florida, says the Trans Pacific Partnership could unlock consumer markets like Japan where some U.S. agricultural products aren’t sold.

“I’ve seen the impact that the South Korean deal has had on Florida citrus,” Rubio says. “It’s been very positive for Florida citrus growers and I would imagine that to open it up to all of the Asia-Pacific region to more export would be more profitable not just to them, but to all agriculture across the country.”

Rubio isn’t commiting to voting for the trade agreement, though.

“I support free trade,” Rubio says. “I want to support a Trans Pacific Partnership. Whether this specific one they’ve negotiated is the right one for our country, we’re in the process of reviewing that.”

Congress must vote to either ratify or reject the Trans Pacific Partnership. A date for that vote is not yet scheduled.

(Reporting by Chantelle Grove, KCIM, Carroll’ additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Trump gains 5 points, Cruz up 13 in new Quinnipiac University Poll

Ted Cruz (file photo)

Ted Cruz (file photo)

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds businessman Donald Trump has the support of 25 percent of likely Iowa Republican Caucus goers and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has 23 percent. Peter Brown, the assistant director of the poll, says support for Cruz has more than doubled in the past four weeks.

“Senator Cruz is the hot candidate in Iowa. There’s no doubt about that,” Brown says. “That’s a very big jump in just one month.”

Retired surgeon Ben Carson is in third place, but his support in Iowa dropped by 10 percent in the past month — while Cruz picked up 13 points. Brown says those trends are “mathematically linked.”

“Many of these are the same people,” Brown says. “Not all, necessarily, but many.”

The poll was taken from November 16th through the 20th — after the terrorist attacks in Paris — and only six percent of those surveyed gave Carson high marks on foreign policy experience, while Cruz topped the chart as the candidate judged “best able to handle” foreign affairs.

“Dr. Carson’s background which is relatively light on foreign policy experience and Senator Cruz’s relative depth, you know, it’s not terribly surprising there’s been this movement,” Brown says. “Also Senator Cruz seemed to get the best grades out of the last televised debate, so that’s helpful.”

Support for Florida Senator Marco Rubio held steady in the month-to-month comparison. Brown says the GOP candidates are now clearly separated into two tiers.

“There’s the first tier, which is made up of four candidates — two insiders, Senators Cruz and Rubio; and two outsiders, Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump — and everybody else is pretty far back,” Brown says. “This is Iowa, so anything’s possible, but for someone to move from that bottom tier into that top tier is going to take an awful lot of work and good luck.”

Thirty percent of likely Iowa Republican Caucus-goers listed “terrorism” and “foreign policy” as their top issues, while 24 percent said “jobs and the economy” are their number one concern.

Rubio is pressing for changes in work visa program

Marco Rubio (file photo)

Marco Rubio (file photo)

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is calling for new limits in the program that allows U.S. companies to get work visas for foreigners.

“The H1B program is a program designed to allow American companies to hire foreigners with special skills when they cannot find an American to do the job,” Rubio said. “And the problem today is that the program is being abused.”

It is illegal for a U.S. company to replace a worker with a foreigner who holds an H1B work visa, but Rubio said U.S. firms are contracting with companies based in India who then hire foreigners, then get those foreigners visas and transfer them to work in the United States.

“Under this program, you are supposed to attest, sign a piece of paper, that says: ‘We tried to hire Americans to do this work, but we couldn’t find anybody and so therefore we hired this foreigner,'” Rubio said. “…Even if you could improve the company’s not telling the truth, no one is enforcing it.”

According to Rubio, all too often American workers who are being laid off have to train the foreign workers being brought in through the visa program.

“What’s it’s being used for, in essence, is a run around way of replacing American workers,” Rubio said.

Rubio said it’s time to limit the number of visas that can be held by American companies seeking to out-source operations. Rubio is in the midst of a five-day campaign swing through Iowa, his most extensive visit to the state since he started his campaign. Rubio, who is a Florida senator, joked about the snow during a visit to Oskaloosa this weekend.

“Thank you so much for being here today,” Rubio said. “…I know how hard it is. I know every time we get these snow storms in Miami, it’s hard to get to where we’re going.”

Rubio is casting the 2016 election as a “generational choice” and he’s warning the next president must address the ballooning federal debt.

“The cause of our debt is not foreign aid. I know a lot of people point to that,” Rubio said in Oskaloosa. “Foreign aid is less than one percent of our budget. The causes of our debt are the way Social Security and Medicaid are structured for future generations.”

Rubio campaigned in Carroll this morning. He’ll be in Council Bluffs over the noon hour. Tomorrow, Rubio will hold a town hall meeting in Grinnell.

(Reporting by Kyler Meyers, KBOE, Oskaloosa; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Clinton touts $6,000 federal tax credit for family caregivers

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Hillary Clinton (file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says it’s time to pay more attention to the “caring economy.”

She is proposing a new federal tax credit that would offset some of what people spend to care for an elderly or disabled relative.

“The bottom line for me is caregiving takes a lot of love,” Clinton says, “and a lot of challenging experiences that often test one’s emotional and physical well-being.”

Clinton also is proposing a recalculation of Social Security benefits for caregivers.

“All the time that people take out of paid work to care for a family member can end up putting a big dent in their retirement benefits,” Clinton says.

Clinton says it is predominantly women who leave the workforce to care for a spouse or a parent.

“I want to expand Social Security by taking into account the often overlooked and undervalued work of family caregivers,” Clinton says.

Clinton made her comments during a town hall meeting in Clinton, Iowa, today. About 400 people attended and Clinton told them her husband is a “fanatic” football fan who’s been following the Iowa Hawkeye’s winning season.

“Three weeks ago he goes: ‘You know, I think Iowa is really for real.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, it looks like it.’…And he goes: I’m wondering whether I can get there before the season’s over,'” Clinton said, laughing along with the crowd “And I said: ‘Well, let’s try to figure that out.'”

Iowa played its final home game this past Saturday. The undefeated Hawkeyes play their final regular season game at Nebraska on Friday.

(Reporting by Dave Vickers, KROS, Clinton; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)



‘Coarsening’ of America a concern raised by 7 GOP candidates


Seven Republicans spoke at the Family Leader Presidential Forum.

Seven Republican presidential candidates gathered around a table in Des Moines tonight — in front of hundreds of Christian conservatives — for a discussion that focused on the “coarsening” of America and how to spark a revival.

Protesters disrupted the event twice and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee responded.

“Have you ever noticed that liberals come to an event like this and yell at us, but do you ever see conservatives going to their events and interrupting them like that?” Huckabee asked and the crowd cheered. “I mean, seriously.”

Huckabee later said he wasn’t bothered by the protesters, because they won’t be thrown in prison or shot like they would in other countries where there are no free speech rights. Texas Senator Ted Cruz told the crowd the greatest moral threat facing the county is an assault on Christian values by Washington, by Hollywood and by the media.

“Mr. President, this is America…You know what? He can’t have either our God or our guns,” Cruz said, to cheers.

Retired surgeon Ben Carson criticized political correctness, especially on college campuses.

“When we look at the constitution, it is there to make sure that all are treated fairly, but it means that everybody has equal rights,” Carson said. “Nobody has extra rights.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the country is threatened by an erosion of values and it starts at the top.

“This week, in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, we had a president that spent more time attacking Republicans than he did talking about how we’re going to attack ISIS,” Rubio said, “and these are the sorts of things that further coarsen the political discourse in this country.”

In the event’s second hour, moderator Frank Luntz asked the candidates to define what they would consider to be a “just” war. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said it’s time for acknowledge Islamic terrorists believe they are in a holy war.

“We have a president who won’t even identify ISIS as Islamic, nor will he identify it as a state,” Santorum said. “…This is delusional and it’s costing us lives.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul called not only for broader background checks on refugees from more than 30 countries where Islamic terrorists cells are forming, plus Paul said there should be broader restrictions on all travel into the United States.

“We have to make dead certain who people are before they come here,” Paul said, to applause.

Toward the end of the event, the moderator asked questions designed to the get the candidates to talk about their faith and how it had been challenged. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina discussed her battle with cancer, her daughter’s death and how faith had sustained her during it all.

“I do think it’s worth saying that people of faith make better leaders,” Fiorina said.

The forum was organized by The Family Leader and Bob Vander Plaats, the group’s president, urged the crowd to consider what was said by the candidates, pray about what they heard and choose one to support.

“Tonight is a special night,” Vander Plaats said to welcome the crowd. “We need leadership in this country.”

Vander Plaats and The Family Leader’s board of directors will meet to consider endorsing one of the candidates.