Governor Terry Branstad’s “Birthday Bash” fundraiser this weekend offered Iowa Republicans a chance to celebrate the 2016 election and look ahead to what may be next.
Five of Branstad’s grandchildren stood around a microphone and sang “Happy Birthday” to the governor near the end of the evening. Grandpa Terry Branstad turned 70 on November 17. He took the stage as more than 500 people at the fundraiser cheered the kids’ performance.
“Well, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Branstad said.
Earlier, Branstad got gifts.
“We take corn and turn it into a liquid that is exported around the world, is increasingly enjoyed by people and it’s known as bourbon,” said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who showed the crowd the three, specially-labeled bottles he brought for Branstad.
Bevin then talked about his personal history and his political philosophy, laying what might be the groundwork for a presidential campaign seeking votes in Iowa’s Caucuses.
“Seize this power that you have every four years to — more than even others in America — be able to shape that American Dream,” Bevin said.
AUDIO of Bevin’s remarks
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton followed Bevin on stage, calling Branstad “America’s Governor” and noting his longevity in office.
“I remember celebrating that first victory when I was five years old in 1982,” Cotton said, getting laughter from Branstad and the crowd. “I was so excited for Iowa.”
Cotton used the word “astonishing” to describe not only Donald Trump’s victory, but Republican wins in congress and state capitols.
“The American people have chosen us as their governing party,” Cotton said.
AUDIO of Cotton’s remarks
Branstad called Cotton and Bevin “young rising stars” in the Republican Party.
“We invited them on purpose, because we wanted to show you the future,” Branstad said, “and I think the future of our party and the future of our country is bright.”
AUDIO of Branstad’s remarks
Branstad was jubilant about GOP victories on November 8.
“Not only did Trump and Pence win Iowa, they won Iowa big — by nearly 10 points,” Branstad said, to cheers.
Before the event started, Branstad told reporters he wasn’t ruling out joining the Trump Administration, perhaps as U.S. Ambassador to China. However, the governor capped the evening by saying he gets “really passionate” about politics at “the state level.”
“There’s something said about when you’re running a race, you want to finish strong, and that’s what we want to do,” Branstad said. “We want to finish strong. We have a lot more we want to do.”
And Branstad told reporters that starts today, as he begins dozens of public hearings with state agency leaders, to discuss the outline of the next state budget.