Six Republican presidential candidates attended a Saturday evening banquet in Des Moines that attracted 650 Iowa Republican Party stalwarts. It’s likely the last big gathering of Republicans in Iowa before the January 3rd Caucuses.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stressed his successes in his home state. "I’ve been battling against the headwinds of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s political machine in Arkansas more than anybody else running for president. I didn’t just win once, not twice, not three times, but four times in a statewide election against the Clinton political machine," Huckabee said. "Bill Clinton and Hillary campaigned against me every time I ever ran and I won and they didn’t and next year the same thing is going to happen in America (as) what happened in Arkansas. We win. They lose and America wins."
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson used the occasion to stress his opposition to "amnesty" and "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants. "A country that cannot protect its borders will not remain forever a soverign nation and we need to understand that in this country," Thompson said. "…In the era of the suitcase bomb, we cannot have open borders in this country. It’s just that simple."
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo told the crowd that in the midst of the California wildfires, illegal immigrants had "stormed" across the border to loot homes that hadn’t burned. "Hundreds have already been arrested. These are illegal immigrants. They are criminals," Tancredo said. "…And if they don’t self-deport, we need a president with the guts to deport them, to send them home."
The Iowa GOP’s fall banquet was named in honor of former President Ronald Reagan and Texas Congressman Ron Paul reminisced about one of his conversations with Reagan. "It was his opinion that there has never been a great nation remain great when once it went off the gold standard and I think those are profound words because great nations and empires self-destruct when they destroy the currency," Paul said. "We’re in the midst of a currency crisis going on right now."
California Congressman Duncan Hunter and Chicago businessman John Cox also spoke to the crowd. Cox seemed to give a concession speech, and joked that his chances of winning the presidency in 2008 were about as good as the Cubs’ chances of winning the World Series.