Governor Branstad says he has no idea why a Washington Post columnist thought he’d endorsed former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s bid for president. Columnist David Broder wrote that Branstad “is generally counted” as a Pawlenty backer.
“I was just absolutely flabbergasted that some kind of a story would be written like that without ever calling me or my office,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “If they’d called here, they’d have known better.”
Pawlenty is in Iowa today, appearing at forums in Sioux Center, Pella and Iowa City which are sponsored by The Family Leader.
Branstad is offering a sort of “come early and come often” advice to Pawlenty and other potential Republican candidates about campaigning in Iowa, but Branstad is adamant that he hasn’t endorsed any candidate at this point.
“This is unbelievable. There has been no discussions about me endorsing or supporting any particular candidate,” Branstad said. “I’ve said very clearly that I want to welcome them all to Iowa. I think they should come here. I think they should actively compete.”
And Branstad dismisses the idea “straw poll” contests being planned in Illinois and Florida could upstage Iowa’s Caucuses.
“The first real contest is the Iowa Caucuses and I would certainly urge candidates not to take that for granted,” Branstad said.”And those that have in the past I think have regretted it.” According to Branstad, he’s “been around long enough” to have seen states like Michigan and Louisiana fail in their attempts to steal the attention of candidates and the media away from Iowa’s contest.
Listen to Branstad’s entire comments on endorsements: Branstad TPaw 2:45 MP3