November 30, 2015

Cruz backer sees senator ‘drafting’ and ready to take the lead

Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz talks to supporters.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is making a three-day campaign lap around the state, with stops in 14 cities.

“I just want to say thank you all for being here. Thank you for standing up. I’m here asking for your support, asking for your help. We are building a grassroots army,” Cruz said to conclude an appearance at the Windrow restaurant in Creston on Saturday afternoon.

Wally Miller of Creston was there to show his support for Cruz.

“He’s the only one that makes sense,” Miller said, adding he has a screening test for candidates. “When I look at someone, would I trust them with my grandkids or my chores? And I would.”

Scott McLain of Creston compared Cruz’s positioning in the race to a NASCAR move.

“He’s drafting right behind the leader at just the right time and right before the Iowa Caucuses then he will go right by the leader on the last lap,” McLain said.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in mid-November found support for Cruz in Iowa has more than doubled since October, putting Cruz into second with 23 percent support behind Donald Trump’s 25 percent.

Union County Republican chairman Joe Owens sees similar movement in his county.

“A couple of months ago it was real strong for Trump and, believe it or not, Huckabee had some strong following — people from ’08, but Ted’s really making a surge,” Owens said.

A month and a half ago Roger Burger of Lenox signed up to be a volunteer for Cruz.

“I told them I wanted yard signs right now,” Burger said, with a laugh, “and everything else.”

Burger was in the crowd of more than two dozen who gathered at the Tiger Den restaurant in Lenox to hear Cruz Saturday afternoon. Burger asked Cruz about “ObamaCare” and Cruz revealed his own family’s policy is being cancelled and he has to get new health insurance.

“Now I’m not unique in that situation,” Cruz said, adding the policy cancellation was news to his own campaign manager. “There are millions of Americans who get their policy cancelled…This is a disaster.”

Cruz is promising to make the 2016 election a “referendum” on the repeal of “ObamaCare”. Cruz may have spent more time with the crowd at the Tiger Den than originally scheduled. Someone on the campaign team locked the keys in the SUV Cruz was riding in and the Taylor County Sheriff was called to open the vehicle.

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)

Senator Grassley says take global travel alert seriously

Senator Chuck Grassley.

Senator Chuck Grassley.

Many Iowans will be traveling across the state or across the country for Thanksgiving, but a few will be making international trips in the next week.

The U.S. State Department is issuing a rare global travel alert due to increased terrorist threats. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says America’s intelligence community is keeping closely attuned to any rumblings that may indicate trouble.

“CIA, FBI use the word chatter,” Grassley says. “There’s a lot of chatter out there coming from all of the terrorist organizations that you can name, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, ISIS, probably a dozen more you could name, seems to be a lotta’ chatter.”

There are reportedly no specific threats directed at the United States, but officials are warning Americans to be more vigilant after recent multiple attacks around the world. “I think it’s reasonable to take it very serious,” Grassley says. “I hope nothing comes of it. We had the same thing July the 4th, not too much came out of it. That’s because the FBI was on top of things and arrested several people before they had an opportunity to do any damage.”

The alert from the State Department says travelers abroad should avoid large crowds and crowded places, and exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.

Grassley says, “We saw what happened in Paris so I think we ought to listen to what the State Department says.” The November 13th attacks on the French capitol for which ISIS claimed responsibility claimed 130 lives and injured hundreds. Other recent attacks struck in Denmark, Mali, Nigeria and Turkey.

The travel alert will remain in place into late February.


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.

Clergy group asks Governor Branstad to welcome Syrian refugees

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

A group of Iowa clergy has delivered a letter to Governor Terry Branstad, saying they’re praying he will “reject fear and cruelty” and welcome Syrian refugees into the state.

Branstad is one of 30 governors citing safety concerns and resisting Syrian refugee resettlement. Reverend Jessica Peterson of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Newton says she signed the letter because she believes turning away refugees is “not the American way.”

“As a follower of Jesus, a refugee himself, I am called to welcome the stranger,” she says, “to offer freedom and relief to those who are persecuted and those who are oppressed.” Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, a United Methodist minister in Des Moines, also signed the letter drafted by a group called Faith in Public Life.

“We call our governor who self-identifies as Christian to follow Christ,” he says. “We call our governor to not turn away refugees because as we all know Iowa is welcoming.” Branstad says President Obama “is in denial” about the threat Syrian refugees pose.

“We understand that one of the people involved in the killings in Paris came in with the refugees,” Branstad says. “We don’t want that to happen here in Iowa or in America and so we think it would be wise to pause and make sure that the safety of our citizens is protected.”

A national group called “Faith in Public Life” has collected signatures from about 2,000 Christian, Jewish and Muslim clerics around the country, calling on Branstad and the other Republican governors to change their minds and open their states to Syrian refugees. Catholic bishops in Iowa and across the country issued statements last week, delivering the same message.


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)