May 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m going into this race with my eyes wide open’ (AUDIO)

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stressed her connections to two presidents as she campaigned earlier this afternoon in Mason City.

“I’m going into this race with my eyes wide open about how hard it is to be the president of the United States,” Clinton said. “I have a little experience about that and I have to tell you I find it very reassuring because I have that experience to know what’s possible and how best to proceed.”

Clinton told the crowd she agreed to serve as President Obama’s first secretary of state because in America, we “close ranks after hard elections” like the one in 2008. Clinton then sent this shot at her 2016 critics.

“We can disagree and we will,” Clinton said. “We’ll have all kind of arguments, even, about the best way to do things, but we should be coming from a place of love, of loving our country and respecting one another.”

Hillary Clinton during an appearance in Mason City.

Hillary Clinton during an appearance in Mason City.

A gay married couple hosted the event at their home, for about 60 invited guests. Clinton started her remarks with a response to those who’ve criticized her for avoiding questions from the media. Clinton said she’s taking time to “talk and listen to people” — to build a “firm foundation” for her campaign.

“It really is about people-to-people connections if we’re really talking about what we want to do,” Clinton said,”but it will also give me the kind of information I need to be an even better president.”

Clinton praised President Obama for steering the economy out of the doldrums, but she said more must be done to “ignite opportunity for everybody” — not just those at the top.

“I know there are a lot of hard choices ahead of us. I wrote a book called, ‘Hard Choices’. There it is. I’ll sign that for you,” Clinton said, as someone in the crowd held up their copy. Then she returned to her message: “But I think we’re up for it. You know, I am a confident optimist.”

This is Clinton’s second trip to Iowa since she officially jumped into the race last month. Clinton will appear at another small event with invited guests in Cedar Falls tomorrow.

AUDIO of Clinton’s appearance, 33:55

(Reporting and photos in Mason City by Bob Fisher of KGLO Radio; additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Congressman King plans to attend as U.S. Supreme Court hears gay marriage arguments

Congresman Steve King.

Congresman Steve King.

Congressman Steve King has introduced legislation that seeks to forbid the federal courts from hearing same-sex marriage cases. “I wish our founding fathers might have named that Supreme Court something other than supreme,” King said.

King plans to be at the Supreme Court today as it hears arguments in a case that could make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. “Now we have a Supreme Court that thinks, ‘Oh, it’s no problem. We can redefine marriage,'” King said. “We just do that because we’re the Supreme Court, after all.'”

King cites the 1857 Dred Scott decision as evidence the nation’s highest court is sometimes wrong on social issues of the day. “It said that African Americans…could never be citizens of the United States — a Supreme Court decision,” King said. “They decided that congress could not ban slavery.”

King calls his bill the “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015.” King also warns the federal courts were created by congress and they can be abolished by congress, too, with just the U.S. Supreme Court remaining. “Down to the Supreme Court that doesn’t have to be nine judges, seven judges, five judges or three,” King says. “It could be reduced to the chief justice of the supreme court at his own card table, with his own candle, working pro bono. That’s all it takes to have the minimum amount in the Constitution.”

King says the U.S. Supreme Court should not have the “final answer” on marriage and there is “no way” he is going to accept a decision that legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states. “Marriage is at stake and the arguments before this court may well determine the future of this country,” King says. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the same-sex marriage case is likely to be released in June. Federal judges have thus far struck down same-sex marriage bans in 22 states.

Same-sex marriage bans remain in effect in 13 other states. Iowa is among the 15 states where same-sex marriage is legal either by a state court’s decision or because state legislators have enacted laws allowing it.


Nine Republicans in 2016 field speak in Waukee church

A large crowd was on hand for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event.

A large crowd was on hand for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event.

Nine Republicans who will likely compete for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination spoke to hundreds of evangelical Christians Saturday evening at a church in Waukee.

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s event featured the three U.S. senators who are officially in the race.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told the crowd it was time to “push back” and “flip the tables” against Democrats on issues like abortion and he railed against foreign aid to countries that persecute Christians.

“Washington is so out of step, Washington is so broken, it’s not going to change…if you nominate ‘Democrat Lite,'” Paul said.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the youngest candidate in the field, urged the crowd to “embrace” the future.

“It begins by turning the page on these leaders that are trapped in yesterday,” Rubio said.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is the third senator who’s officially in the race and he accused Democrats of being “radicalized” on the same-sex marriage issue.

“The modern Democratic Party has gotten so extreme, so intolerant, there is a liberal fascism that is dedicated to going after and targeting believing Christians who follow the Biblical teaching on marriage,” Cruz said.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the victor in Iowa’s 2008 Caucuses and is likely to enter the race next month. He, too, blasted those who accuse Christian conservatives of discrimination if they support bans on same-sex marriage and refuse to do business with same-sex couples.

“It is the criminalization of Christianity. We cannot stand by silently,” Huckabee said, to applause.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, likely to be among the latest to formally enter the race, said the federal courts should not be defining marriage.

“In Wisconsin and other places across the country marriage is defined between one man and one woman and states should be the ones that make that decision,” Walker said, to applause and a few whistles.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said corporate America should be wary of throwing in with the “radical left” on same-sex marriage.

“I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman and unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton…my views, they’re not evolving with the times. They’re not based on poll numbers,” Jindal said, to applause.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina plans to announce her candidacy next month and she spent the opening and closing moments in her speech to lambaste Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

“And I’ll tell you what — when the General Election rolls around we’d better have a nominee that can throw those punches all day long,” Fiorina said, to applause.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is likely to run a second time for president, talked of Biblical figures like Moses and Paul who had been given second chances by God.

“But I happen to think that America is ready for a second chance right now,” Perry said. “America is ready for a leader to give this country a second chance.”

Former Senator Rick Santorum, the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, argued the GOP’s message needs to change and that’s one reason he has come out in favor of raising the minimum wage.

“We can go out and talk about how we have to bail out Wall Street, that we have to bailout auto companies, but when it comes to providing worker protection for the lowest-wage workers, we have to be Adam Smith. No!” Santorum said. “We need to say that we’re on the side of the American worker.”

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition plans another fundraising event this fall at the Iowa State Faigrounds and that’s likely to draw some of the same candidates.

Roar of motorcycle engines drowns out anti-gay protest at capitol


A protestor from the Westboro Baptist Church.

Five protesters from an ultra- conservative Baptist church in Kansas are at the statehouse today, but no one can hear their chants or songs.

The church often protests at the funerals of American soldiers, arguing the soldiers’ deaths are punishment for the country’s tolerance toward gays and lesbians.

A group of motorcyclists formed to provide a barrier between the Westboro Baptist Church protesters and the people gathered at those funerals to pay their respects to the soldiers are at the statehouse today  — their engines roaring to drown out the group’s message.

The heavy smell of exhaust fumes from the motorcycles hangs in the air. It comes from a long line of bikes parked along the street just west of the state capitol building.


Motorcyclists at the protest.

The west windows of the statehouse are vibrating from the roar and some of the military veterans inside the statehouse have been going outside, making their way down a long stretch of steps to the street to thank the engine-revving cyclists.

An even larger group of people staging a counter-protests are there, too, to show their support of same-sex marriage in Iowa.

72 Iowa judges up for retention vote in 2014

Seventy district court judges and two judges on the Iowa Court of Appeals are up for a retention vote on this fall’s ballot.

The Iowa State Bar Association has released its survey of lawyers about each of the judges up for retention in 2014. Over 1100 attorneys from around the state evaluated the judges on what the Bar Association describes as “performance characteristics” and the Bar Association’s president says all the judges “received high ratings.” Find the evaluations for the 72 judges here.

In 1962, the so-called “merit” system was launched for choosing Iowa judges. A judicial nominating commission recommends three candidates for each opening and the governor appoints people to the bench, but those judges must periodically stand for a retention vote.

In 2010 Iowa voters tossed three Iowa Supreme Court justices — including the chief justice — off the bench after the court’s 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. But in 2012 another justice who joined that unanimous ruling won his retention vote. There are no justices from the Supreme Court on this year’s ballot.

Hatch says Branstad will use ‘bully pulpit’ to push for same-sex marriage ban

Jack Hatch

Jack Hatch

Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, says Iowans “should be very skeptical” of Republicans like Governor Terry Branstad who say making same-sex marriage illegal in Iowa isn’t a top priority.

“I think we have to realize that you get a Republican House and a Republican Senate and you have a Republican governor, then marriage equality is at risk,” Hatch says.

Branstad says governors have no “direct role” in setting up a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

“It is a legislative matter and I respect the fact that the legislators are the ones that are going to make a decision on this,” Branstad says.

Hatch, who supports same-sex marriage, says Branstad has made it “very clear” the only legitimate marriages should be between a man and a woman.

“It is their number one social agenda, without a doubt,” Hatch says. “…We should be very scared of the agenda of the Republican leadership.”

Terry Branstad

Terry Branstad

Branstad says he’s focused on education and economic development and this isn’t a priority issue for him, but Branstad says Iowa voters “should have the opportunity” to decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“It’s up to the people to decide who they want to send to the legislature, if they want people who are going to give the people of Iowa a chance to vote on this issue,” Branstad says.

Branstad says voters appreciate a governor who is “focused and doesn’t try to do everything.”

“I’m running for reelection as governor of Iowa and I’m focusing on things that are important to the people of Iowa and that the governor has a role in,” Branstad says. “I do respect the fact that there are people who have strong views on this issue and that is not my responsibility. It is a legislative matter.”

Hatch suggests Branstad has “enormous power” to speak out for the ban same-sex marriage.

“Don’t let him fool us that he doesn’t have this authority. He does. He has the authority of the bully pulpit,” Hatch says. “…I think he’ll use it and, unfortunately, I think he’ll use it in the wrong way.”

In 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny a marriage license to same-sex couples. In 2010, during the last campaign, Branstad said the court had made the “wrong decision.”

Even if Republican legislators pass a resolution in 2015 calling for a statewide vote to ban same-sex marriage, the same resolution would have to pass again in 2017 — so the earliest the matter could be presented to voters would be in three years from now.

Congressional candidate David Young stressing economic rather than social issues

David Young, the newly-minted GOP nominee for congress in Iowa’s third district, says his Washington, D.C. experience as an aide to three different senators is a strength, not a weakness. Young’s Democratic opponent, Staci Appel, has already started attacking Young as a “D-C insider.”

“Knowing how to hit the ground running in Washington, D.C., is an asset and working for Senator Grassley under his mentorship and tutalage is not a bad thing…He taught me how to listen to people,” Young says. “Iowans are my boss, not anyone else, not party leadership and we see what happens with party leadership sometimes. Look what happened to Erin Cantor when you don’t remember who your boss is.”

Young worked for Republican senators from Kentucky and Colorado before serving seven years as Grassley’s chief of staff. Young finished fifth in the Republican primary in Iowa’s third congressional district on June 3rd, but he secured his spot on November’s ballot in last weekend’s third district nominating convention.

Young says while he joins his fellow Republicans in opposing same-sex marriage and abortion, those are not issues he will stress in this year’s campaign. because nothing can be accomplished with President Obama still in the White House two more years.

“What I’ve been pushing here in my campaign are not social issues, although they are important to me personally, but issues on debt, the economy, government accountability,” Young says.

Young made his comments this afternoon during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight on Iowa Public Television.