A Cedar Rapids businessman has launched his campaign to be the Republican who runs against Democrat Senator Tom Harkin in 2008.
Steve Rathje says it’s time for the Iowa GOP to take a different path when it chooses the person to face-off against the four-term Democrat. "Since Roger Jepsen’s defeat in 1984, our Republican Party has nominated a sitting congressman in an attempt to unseat Senate Harkin and every single time we’ve been defeated," Rathje says. "There’s no doubt in my mind that history will repeat itself if given the opportunity, so we need to make a change now."
Rathje, who is 51, describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative, and Rathje rejects the idea that he is a long-shot candidate. "I am in this thing to win. I am not in it to come in second," Rathje says. "Have you ever heard who came in second? Nobody ever knows who ever came in second but everybody knows who the winner is."
Rathje says 10 years ago, he hit rock bottom and had a spiritual rebirth — Rathje describes himself as a "Born Again" Christian. "At one time in my life, I had to look up to see bottom so I know exactly what I’m doing. I know exactly what I’m getting into," Rathje says. "I do intend to win this race."
Rathje hopes his own rags-to-riches story inspires voters along the campaign trail. "Coming from what I call nothing to something, coming from not being on the street corner, per se, but standing in the line for cheese and powdered milk at one time in my life and then deciding that enough is enough — I’m not going to do this anymore. I am not going to do this to my family. I am not going to depend on the government to feed my family and take care of and provide for the welfare of my family," Rathje says. "And I did something about it." Rathje made stops around the state Tuesday to kick-off his campaign.
He delivered a short speech to six people gathered in a conference room at the Iowa Republican Party’s headquarters in Des Moines. "Folks, I’m not a professional politician, nor do I claim to be," Rathje said. "I am, however, a proud American, a life-long Iowan and a successful businessman that knows a thing or two about Iowa values and fiscal responsibility."
To hear his entire speech and news conference in Des Moines, click on the audio link below.