Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad — the Republican who’s returned to the campaign trail to seek a fifth term as governor — is offering his own “State of the State” analysis.
Governor Chet Culver, the Democrat Branstad hopes to defeat in November, delivered the annual “Condition of the State” address at the statehouse at 10 o’clock this morning. Over the noon hour, Branstad criticized Culver during a speech to the Rotary Club in Atlantic.
“Part of the problem is the lack of leadership and foresight we’ve seen in state government in recent years,” Branstad said, “both the excessive spending and then also using the one-time stimulus money last year for on-going expenses and then going out and borrowing another $800 million on top of that has just set us up for a really bad financial situation.”
Branstad listened to Culver’s speech on the radio as he drove to Atlantic.
“He had some good things to say about things that Iowans have done and I certainly concur with that — the resiliency of Iowans in dealing with the disasters and the budget problems,” Branstad said. “But what astounded me was the lack of vision and leadership that he has provided. He didn’t set any goals in terms of jobs that he wanted to create. He talked about that he wants to travel around the state. Well, you know, I guess he’s getting at this a little late in the game.”
Branstad’s appearance in Atlantic came before news that a key group lobbying against gay marriage has endorsed another Republican in the 2010 gubernatorial race,. According to one of the group’s leaders, the Iowa Family Policy Center’s PAC won’t back Branstad even if he wins the G.O.P.’s nomination.
Branstad plans to formally launch his 2010 campaign on January 19th, but tonight his campaign will host a party to “unveil” a new campaign website. During an interview with KJAN Radio in Atlantic, though, Branstad mistakenly referred to the website as his campaign’s new “Facebook.” Branstad has had a cell phone for several years and recently acquired a BlackBerry.
“This is a new era and we’ve had to learn this, I guess it’s kind of social communications, social networking is important,” Branstad said. “You know, I still like going out and speaking face-to-face with people, answering questions. But I also understand that you can get to a lot more people using the networking opportunities that are available today through the internet.”
Last week Branstad’s staff used “Twitter” — another social networking site — to reveal the list of 17 Iowa cities Branstad will visit next Tuesday through Friday.
(Reporting in Atlantic by Ric Hanson of KJAN Radio.)