Iowa’s governor created a firestorm Tuesday when he told reporters he hopes Ted Cruz is “defeated” in the Iowa Caucuses.
Governor Terry Branstad said it’s because Cruz is “diametrically opposed” to the federal ethanol production mandate.
“We should not be supporting somebody that is opposing those things that are critically important to the economic well-being of our state,” Branstad said.
Branstad made his comments to reporters after speaking at the day-long Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at the event a few hours later and praised Branstad’s “strong feelings.” Trump said the ethanol industry is an important factor in securing America’s energy independence.
“You do a fantastic service,” Trump told the crowd, which swelled to more than 1000 when he took the stage. “I know not everybody’s there, but I am there with you 100 percent.”
Cruz said Branstad’s comments show “the establishment is in full panic mode” because he’s atop the polls in Iowa.
“As conservatives unite behind our campaign, you’re going to see the Washington cartel firing every shot they can, every cannon they can, because the Washington cartel lives on cronyism,” Cruz told reporters in New Hampshire. “It lives on making deals.”
Cruz said voters are “fed up” with “corporate welfare.”
“I can tell you Republicans across this country…they’re fed up with a Republican leadership that doesn’t stand for anything,” Cruz said in New Hampshire.
Iowa Congressman Steve King — an ethanol backer who has endorsed Cruz — said Iowa voters and Governor Branstad should appreciate that Cruz didn’t change his stand on the Renewable Fuels Standard just to win votes in Iowa.
“We like people who keep their word,” Cruz said during remarks at a luncheon attended by leaders in the ethanol industry.
King talked at length with reporters afterwards.
“The governor should go back and do what he usually does which is due diligence, dig down into the facts of this, listen to both sides of this issue and, by the way, should embrace a future for renewable fuels beyond 2022,” King said.
That’s when the Renewable Fuels Standard is set to expire, and King said he doesn’t know anyone in congress who thinks the mandate will be extended beyond that date.
King said it is a “great disappointment” that Branstad made a “de facto endorsement” of Trump without reviewing Cruz’s ideas for expanding market access for ethanol.
Trump wasn’t the only GOP candidate to speak at the Renewable Fuels Summit Tuesday. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said the RFS is one of the few government mandates that actually works.
“And so in the midst of that you have some people running for president who think that maybe we ought to get rid of the RFS,” Huckbee said. “Maybe, instead, we ought to get rid of the candidates who don’t have a clue about the value of agriculture in America.”
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was the event’s final speaker.
“What’s going on with Renewable Fuel Standards, what’s going on with the EPA are an example of what’s wrong with our government,” Fiorina said. “They’re an example of what’s wrong with our politics.”
Early Tuesday at the same event former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told the crowd the Renewable Fuels Standard will be “killed” if Ted Cruz wins Iowa — and Santorum says Iowa Caucus-goers will have their “fingerprints on the weapon.”