A feud over fuel has erupted in Iowa’s Republican Party. Governor Terry Branstad is declaring it is his hope that Ted Cruz loses the Iowa Caucuses, because Cruz opposes the federal ethanol production mandate.
“Ted Cruz, who is ahead in the polls, is diametrically opposed to what we really care about and that is growing the opportunity for renewable fuels in this country,” Branstad said this morning.
Branstad made his comments right after addressing the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. GOP candidate Donald Trump spoke to the group about three hours later and praised Branstad.
“I know the governor just made a very big statement that was appreciated by many and that was amazing actually and he’s a respected man and when he speaks, many people listen,” Trump said.
Republican Congressman Steve King has endorsed Cruz and he spoke with reporters over the noon-hour about Branstad’s remarks.
“It’s an unendorsement and it’s a de facto endorsement of Trump,” King said.
King is accusing Branstad of failing to review all of what Cruz has pledged to do to expand market access for ethanol-blended fuels.
“That is a great disappointment to me,” King said.
And King criticized the work Eric Branstad, the governor’s oldest son, has been doing on behalf of a political action committee that’s been critical of Cruz’s stand on ethanol.
“If you attack Ted Cruz and people believe you, it helps Donald Trump, so I would say that if people are maneuvering that way, I thought he was behind Chris Christie, so I might have miscalculated,” King told reporters.
Branstad again today said he would not be endorsing anyone in the Republican presidential race before the Caucuses. But Branstad said it would “be very damaging” to the Iowa Caucuses if an opponent of the Renewable Fuels Standard like Cruz were to win on February 1.
“I know he’s ahead in the polls, but the only poll that counts is the one they take on Caucus night and I think it could change between now and then. I think this event is an important, significant step to helping educate the voters in this state,” Branstad said.
Trump read a brief written statement to the crowd of ethanol backers shortly after he took the stage at the Renewable Fuels Summit.
“The RFS…is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States. I will do all that is within my power as president to achieve that goal,” Trump said. “So far you agree with me, right?” Trump asked, and the crowd applauded.
And Trump took this shot at Cruz’s stand on ethanol: “He’s been mixed on the subject. He goes wherever the votes are, so he all of a sudden he went over here and then all of a sudden he got slapped, so it’s very interesting to see.”
Audio of Trump’s remarks is here.
Listen to the remarks Branstad and King made earlier today here.
Three other GOP presidential candidates are speaking at the Renewable Fuels Summit. Rick Santorum told the group that Iowans will have their fingerprints on the weapon that kills the Renewable Fuels Standard if Cruz wins the Caucuses.