February 13, 2016

Congressman King responds to ‘fury’ over Caucus Night (AUDIO)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King today said there is “fury…boiling over” about the results of Iowa’s Caucuses, but King said he had “no ill intent” with his tweet on Caucus night that it looked like Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential race.

Carson backers say King — who backs Ted Cruz — misled some Carson supporters into switching to Cruz.

“If I had it to do over again knowing what I know now, I would not have issued that information, however accurate it was,” King told Radio Iowa. “But knowing when I knew then, having reviewed the chronology or had access to, I would be compelled to do the same thing given the information that I had.”

King said he had a 45-minute private meeting with Carson Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. and the two emerged as friends.

“My understanding of that conversation is that Ben is satisfied, as am I,” King said early this afternoon.

Donald Trump has said Cruz and King cheated by telling Iowans heading into the caucuses that Carson was dropping out. Governor Terry Branstad has gone so far as to use the word “unethical” to describe King’s actions. King said Branstad was “out of line” to openly call for the defeat of Cruz in the Caucuses because of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate.

“So now we have a governor making remarks publicly about my ethics?” King asked rhetorically during his interview with Radio Iowa. “I think he should go back and examine the ethics of the ARF organization that’s headed by his son and examine the motives of those people.”

America’s Renewable Future is a Super PAC headed by Eric Branstad, the governor’s oldest son, and it campaigned against Cruz. King acknowledges that it appears there is now a rift within the Iowa GOP.

“It’s too bad that there are those that want to try to start a fire and throw gas on it and to disparage the Ted Cruz victory and actually it drags us all down,” King said. “And I would like to think that especially the high-profile Republicans in the state are more prudent than that and it doesn’t look like they’re demonstrating that this week, at least. Maybe next week.”

King said Iowans “can be proud” of the results from Monday night and he’s willing to take the “arrows” being directed his way.

“The American people — and Iowans in particular — we like to take some pride in being very vigorous competitors, but also we ought to take some pride in being able to accept the loss as long as we did all we can do morally and ethically and vigorously to achieve our objectives,” King said. “And if the people that did not achieve their objectives aren’t able to look at their effort that way, I think that would explain some of the fury that’s boiling over here.”

AUDIO of King’s interview with Radio Iowa

(A previous version of this story indicated King had no regrets about his Tweet, but the congressman has contacted Radio Iowa this afternoon to indicate he had “no ill intent” in sending the Tweet.)

Commission likely to consider changes in Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

The man who managed President Obama’s 2012 reelection effort in Iowa expects Iowa Democratic Party leaders will convene a commission to propose possible changes in the party’s presidential caucus procedures.

Brad Anderson says Democrats should consider having straw poll ballots, just like Republicans do at their Caucuses.

“The one thing that is troubling is in a close race there should be some kind of recount procedure and right now because of the way it’s done on the Democratic side, it’s just not possible,” Anderson says. “We don’t have ballots.”

Democrats decide the winner of their caucuses by counting the number of delegates each presidential candidate wins — and there are complex calculations for determining those “delegate equivalents”.

“We need to form a commission that takes a look at it in the same way that Republicans did in 2012,” Anderson says. “I think there are very fair questions, but I think at the end of the day this process is one that makes Iowa the center of attention and we have always handled the spotlight fairly well.”

The Iowa Republican Party tinkered with the rules for its caucuses after Mitt Romney was declared the winner on Caucus Night, Rick Santorum won a “canvas” of most precincts 10 days later and Ron Paul had the most delegates at the party’s national convention. Anderson, who backed Hillary Clinton in the Caucuses, says there are specific things that need to be addressed by Iowa Democrats, like the “logistical challenges” that were evident on Monday night.

“Certainly, some of these precincts have just gotten too big,” Anderson says.

For example, Anderson went to his precinct on Caucus Night, but the crowd was too big for the elementary school gymnasium — so people were sent outside to conduct the caucus in the school’s parking lot.

Craig Robinson, a Republican activist who once served as the political director for the Republican Party of Iowa, says the two parties should collaborate on technology, so — for example — people aren’t filling out paper voter registration forms on Caucus Night.

“I think the parties need to work together for the next four years, not just in the year of the caucus,” Robinson says. “…There needs to be some existing infrastructure built.”

Robinson attended his GOP precinct caucus in Ankeny, where 200 people were forced to fill out the paperwork to change their voter registration before the caucus could start. Robinson says the use of technology would help speed that process.

Robinson and Anderson made their comments today during taping of “Iowa Press” which airs tonight on Iowa Public Television.

‘Let’s not blow this out of proportion,’ Sanders says of Iowa Caucus results

Bernie Sanders in Burlington, IA.

Bernie Sanders in Burlington. (file photo)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is tamping down the furor over the results of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses.

Sanders and Hillary Clinton debated last night in New Hampshire, on MSNBC, and one of the questions was about the photo finish here on Monday night.

Moderator Chuck Todd mentioned The Des Moines Register editorial saying that “something smells” and the way the Caucuses were run was a “debacle.”

“I agree with The Des Moines Register, but let’s not blow this out of proportion,” Sanders said. “This is not like a winner-take-all thing. I think where we now stand, correct me if I’m wrong, you have 22 delegates. I have 20 delegates. We need 2500 delegates to win the nomination. This is not the biggest deal in the world.”

The Sanders campaign has been reviewing all the reports it received from Sanders precinct captains. Sanders said they believe he’d receive “at least two more” if there was an audit of the results.

“At the end of the day, no matter how it’s recounted, it will break roughly even and, by the way, I love and respect the caucus process in Iowa, see, and I don’t have to say it because they voted already,” Sanders said, to laughter from the audience in the debate hall.

But Sanders suggested the arcane rules for how the Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses are run should be changed.

“Look, I think people are blowing this up out of proportion, but I think we need improvements in the process by which results are determined,” Sanders said.

Hillary Clinton was asked if she would oppose the idea of auditing the Democratic Party’s Iowa Caucus results.

“Whatever they decide to do, that’s fine,” Clinton replied.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced the final results shortly before noon on Tuesday. It was the closest contest in the history of the Iowa Caucuses.

AUDIO of this segment of the debate, courtesy of MSNBC

Branstad says Cruz employed ‘unethical and unfair’ tactics Monday night (AUDIO)

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad      (file photo)

Governor Terry Branstad is crediting Ted Cruz for running an “old-fashioned”, 99-county campaign that yielded victory in Monday night’s Iowa Caucuses, but Branstad is joining the chorus criticizing Cruz for “questionable” campaign tactics.

“This thing that they distributed on Caucus night saying that Dr. Carson was likely to drop out and his supporters should support Cruz, that is, I think, unethical and unfair,” Branstad said this morning. “I think there’ll be repercussions to that.”

Cruz has apologized to Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who finished fourth in the Caucuses on Monday night. Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Cruz backer, helped spread the drop out rumor and Branstad said King owes Carson an apology.

“You know, we have a strong sense of fairness in Iowa,” Branstad said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “Distributing information that was not true about a candidate right at the time people are voting in the Caucuses is an inappropriate thing.”

King tweeted: “Carson looks like he’s out” on Caucus night. King has told reporters in Washington, D.C. he had an “obligation” to tell Iowans about a report he’d seen indicating Carson was flying home to Florida Monday night rather than going to New Hampshire. Branstad is not out personally recruiting a Republican to challenge King in a primary this June.

“Yet I think there are a number of people in the renewable fuels industry that are not happy with (King),” Branstad says. “I guess time will tell what happens.”

Branstad is a critic of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate. Two weeks before the Caucuses Branstad said he hoped Cruz would be defeated — a move Congressman King blasted as a “de facto endorsement” of Donald Trump.

“Well, I did,” Branstad said today of his wish for Cruz’s defeat. “Actually, I think Trump, by skipping the debate, hurt himself.”

Branstad’s 2010 and 2014 campaign managers migrated to New Jersey Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. Christie finished 10th, with fewer than 3300 votes. Branstad said Christie didn’t spend enough time campaigning in Iowa.

“None of the governors did well,” Branstad said. “…Rubio came on strong at the end because people were looking for somebody new.”

The Caucus winner was someone Branstad opposed and Christie finished next to last, but Branstad rejects the notion Monday’s Caucus results are in any way a rebuke of him.

“First of all I’m not running for president. I’ve never had an interest in running for president or national office,” Branstad said. “My focus is on my state and jobs in my state and farm income.”

AUDIO of Radio Iowa’s interview with Governor Terry Branstad

Branstad attended his precinct caucus Monday night, but he is not revealing who he voted for. Branstad said the record turn-out for Monday’s Republican Caucuses was “an encouraging sign” for the fall election, since Iowa is likely to be a toss-up state in the presidential race.

Santorum ends 2016 campaign after 11th place Iowa finish

Rick Santorum (file photo)

Rick Santorum (file photo)

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has ended his second campaign for the White House after a disappointing 11th place finish in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. Walt Rogers, a state legislator from Cedar Falls, was Santorum’s Iowa campaign chairman.

“Everywhere we went, everybody said: ‘We love Rick. We love what he stands for. We love him. We just don’t think he’s got a chance to win,'” Rogers said today, “so they discarded him right away.”

Rogers said, to him, Santorum was a candidate with the right kind of credentials for the time, but there was a “mentality” that Santorum’s “chance” had been in 2008, after he won the Iowa Caucuses.

“It was just a frustrating year,” Rogers said. “It seemed to be the year that people wanted something new.”

Santorum got fewer than 1800 votes on Caucus Night, about one percent of the total. Santorum finished last among the 11 candidates who campaigned in Iowa.

“Four people in our caucus voted for him: me, my wife and two other people, Rogers told Radio Iowa, with a laugh.

Rogers had a minute to speak at his precinct on Santorum’s behalf and he told a story about his first meeting with Santorum.

“All of us legislators get courted by everybody and Rick Santorum called me and, four years ago, came to my house, spent a couple of hours at my house with my family, my kids and he really won my kids over with authenticity,” Rogers said. “They said: ‘Dad, you worry about the politics but this guy is the real deal. We really like him. We would back you supporting him.’ And at that point we became friends and I’ve supported him ever since.”

Santorum has endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s bid for the White House. Two other GOP candidates have suspended their campaigns. Rand Paul ended his presidential campaign Wednesday morning. Mike Huckabee dropped out on Caucus Night. He won the Iowa Caucuses in 2008 with 34 percent of the vote. Four years later, Santorum got nearly one out of every four votes cast on Caucus Night.

Rand Paul exits race after fifth place showing in Iowa Caucuses

Rand Paul (file photo)

Rand Paul (file photo)

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul finished fifth in the Iowa Caucuses Monday night and today he announced his 2016 presidential campaign is finished.

“Although today I will suspend my campaign for the presidency,” Paul said, “I will continue to fight on for liberty, for the constitution, for justice in the United States Senate.”

Paul was running on two tracks this season: as a candidate seeking the presidency and as a candidate seeking another six year term in the senate, in case the White House bid didn’t work out. Paul entered the presidential campaign season as one of the favorites to do well in Iowa. Two former Iowa Republican Party chairmen were working on his Iowa campaign.

“Kelly and I are deeply grateful to our outstanding staff and tireless volunteers and supporters, people who believe in liberty,” Paul said in a video statement.

Senator Paul’s father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, ran for president three times and formed the “Campaign for Liberty” to elect like-minded conservatives. The congressman’s son had hoped to inherit all of those “liberty movement” activists, but there were defections to other candidates like Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and even Bernie Sanders.

“It has been a privilege to give voice to the liberty movement in this race and I believe we have broadened the debate by being part of it,” Paul said today.

Senator Paul got nearly 8500 votes on Monday night. That was four-and-a-half percent of the votes cast and put him in fifth place. In 2012, his father finished third in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, with more than 21 percent of the vote.

Iowa Democratic Party chair says 2016 Iowa Caucus results ‘are final’

Andy McGuire (file photo)

Andy McGuire (file photo)

Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire late this afternoon said the results of her party’s caucuses “are final” and there will be no “recount” despite the photo-finish.

“I think we did a great job with the turnout we had and with the incredible closeness of the race and we reported the results and we stand by them,” she said during a Radio Iowa interview.

The results were reported just before noon today — nearly 17 hours after the Caucuses commenced Monday night. The Iowa Democratic Party announced Hillary Clinton won 3.77 more “delegate equivalents” on Caucus Night than Bernie Sanders. Clinton is calling it a victory. Sanders calls it a virtual tie. At one point today, the Sanders campaign suggested raw vote totals for each candidate should be released. McGuire said that will not happen.

“And the reason we don’t do that is this is a Caucus,” she told Radio Iowa. “This is not a straw poll.”

Some of the Democratic activists who attended the caucuses have contacted Radio Iowa to complain their precinct meetings were poorly run. One precinct in Des Moines failed to report its results on Caucus night and the reluctantly-elected chair of that precinct meeting handed in the results this morning.

“We always want to have the most well-organized caucuses we can, but when you’re dealing with volunteers and you’re dealing with overflow crowds, this actually a good thing for us,” McGuire said, “so I’ll take that — that there were more Democrats than we think were maybe going to come.”

McGuire rejected reports the party failed to recruit at least one person to serve as a temporary chair to start each precinct meeting.

“We have volunteers all over the state, 1681 of them that do their very best to have a wonderfully-run caucus,” McGuire said. “…We had 171,000-plus turnout which is a higher turnout than I think anyone expected.”

The campaign manager for Bernie Sanders has blasted the “arcane” rules by which the caucuses are run. For example, the Microsoft “app” designed to handle the results recorded seven “coin tosses” to determine which candidate would get a delegate.

“Six of them went to Bernie Sanders,” McGuire said this afternoon. “Five of those were between Hillary and Bernie Sanders. One of those was between Sanders and O’Malley and then there was one for Clinton, between Clinton and Sanders.”

The rules “haven’t changed,” according to McGuire.

“When there’s a tie, you’re going to have a game of chance and if there’s two people involved in a tie, typically we tell them in the rules — written down for everybody to see at all the trainings we did — that there’s a flip of the coin,” McGuire said. “Certainly that’s a very equitable way to do this.”

There may have been more “coin flips” at rural precincts where delegate counts were telephoned in rather than calculated and reported using the Microsoft app. All three presidential campaigns had representations in the “tabulation room” on Monday night and McGuire said any “grievances” raised then were addressed then. She has not personally talked to any representative of the Sanders campaign since then.

The results of the Republican Party’s caucuses in 2012 were razor thin as well, with the chairman of the Iowa GOP declaring Mitt Romney the winner on Caucus Night, then 10 days later releasing a “canvas” of precincts that indicated Rick Santorum won.