Posts tagged ‘Iowa’

May 27, 2011

Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa to begin what his aides promise will be a leaner …

Romney returns to Iowa with a leaner organization
May 27, 2011, 6:08 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa to begin what his aides promise will be a leaner campaign for the state’s leadoff nominating caucuses than the expensive juggernaut he assembled here in his 2008 race.

The former Massachusetts governor plans to officially announce his second bid for the presidency next week in New Hampshire, the state around which he’s built his 2012 strategy.

That formality comes as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum prepares to enter the race in the coming days, and as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann signaled she likely would do the same next month in Waterloo, where she was born. At the same time, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is launching an East Coast bus tour starting Sunday, a move that’s fueling speculation that she, too, is preparing for a run.

Romney, for his part, is making his first trip to Iowa this year on Friday, with plans to visit a suburban Des Moines technology firm and address a business group in the capital city.

The topic is in keeping with what aides say will be a campaign more focused on a national economic message, and less focused on appealing specifically to Republican activists in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Romney has rethought his Iowa plans after his second-place finish in the caucuses during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination. He spent millions in the state only to be beaten late in the campaign by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a stricter social conservative who appealed to the Christians who form the backbone of the Iowa GOP caucus base.

Romney has said he plans to campaign in Iowa and field a staff ahead of the 2012 caucuses.

He unveiled a team of key Iowa backers Thursday led by a former state party chairman and planned to meet in eastern Iowa Friday with supporters from counties where he won in 2008. Romney also spoke briefly with Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, Monday, another sign he is not forsaking the leadoff state, as some observers suggested he would.

But aides would not say whether Romney planned to compete in the Iowa Republican Party’s presidential straw poll, a traditionally big pre-caucus event planned for mid-August. Romney spent heavily to organize en route to winning the straw poll in August 2007.

Some influential GOP activists have said Romney should reconsider his less aggressive Iowa approach since several Republicans with stronger social conservative profiles than Romney are expected to run, leaving him an opening with pro-business conservatives.

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May 23, 2011

Tim Pawlenty on Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths …

Pawlenty launches bid, delivers tough talk in Iowa
May 23, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDTAssociated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)Tim Pawlentyon Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths as he seeks the presidency, bluntly announcing in corn-dependent Iowa that its prized federal subsidies for ethanol should be phased out.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” Pawlenty told about 200 Republican activists and supporters in Des Moines in his first public appearance since officially kicking off his White House bid Sunday. “We simply can’t afford them anymore.”

The former Minnesota governor is using his first week of campaigning as an announced candidate to try to cast himself as a straight-talking Midwesterner, unafraid to consider drastic changes to sensitive spending programs in order to solve the nation’s fiscal problems. He faces several obstacles in pursuing the GOP nomination; he isn’t well-known nationally, ranks low in popularity polling and has been tagged by comedians and the chattering class as boring.

Pawlenty’s announcement came hours after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision against a bid jolted the GOP race and brought the field into clearer focus.

Pawlenty made fiscal overhaul the centerpiece of his announcement speech, and planned to not just challenge politically influential Iowans, but swing-voting seniors in Florida and wealthy bank executives on Wall Street.

“Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people. Someone has to lead.”

Pawlenty plans to outline a Social Security plan that raises the retirement age for seniors and requires means-testing for wealthier retirees.

The proposals are aimed at establishing Pawlenty as a candidate who levels with the American people, which he said President Barack Obama, whom he hopes to challenge next year, has not done.

“President Obama’s policies have failed,” Pawlenty said, delivering a speech and answering questions from the audience but not reporters. “But more than that, he won’t even tell us the truth about what it’s really going to take to get out of the mess that we’re in.”

Pawlenty acknowledged the political sensitivity of changing Social Security and eliminating ethanol subsidies.

“I’m not some out-of-touch politician from some other part of the country,” he said. “But even in Minnesota, when we faced fiscal challenges, we reduced ethanol subsidies. That’s where we are now in Washington, but on a much, much larger scale.”

As governor, Pawlenty played both sides of the ethanol issue. He angered farmers by pushing to trim subsidy payments to ethanol producers early in his first term. But he won their favor later by spearheading a drive to boost the amount of the fuel additive blended into each gallon of gasoline sold in the state. It must be 20 percent by 2013.

While the challenge to ethanol was a risk, Pawlenty made clear what Iowa means to his candidacy.

The setting for Pawlenty’s appearance — a sun-splashed rooftop terrace overlooking the Iowa Capitol — underscored how important the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses are to his bid as he tries to take advantage of Daniels’ absence to position himself as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor lost his first bid in 2008 and again is seeking the nomination of a party that historically has nominated a candidate who had run previously.

Given an opportunity to go after Romney in a Monday morning appearance on network television, Pawlenty demurred, saying he’d prefer to talk about his own presidential traits than criticize others. He did acknowledge he probably wouldn’t be able to compete with the former private equity investment firm executive in terms of fundraising.

However, while criticizing Obama’s candidness about the depths of the nation’s fiscal crisis, he also subtly called on his would-be GOP rivals to be honest about the problems.

“It’s time for America’s president — and anyone who wants to be president — to look you in the eye and tell you the truth,” he said.

The appearance was one in a highly scripted, multi-format campaign roll-out that began Sunday evening with an internet video and continued Monday morning with Pawlenty’s appearances on all the network news morning programs. It is part of an 18-month ramp-up that began with Pawlenty’s first Iowa trip as a possible candidate, and is aimed at branding him as the fresh-faced, but tough-minded executive able to take on an incumbent Democratic president.

Pawlenty, who must win the party nomination before getting the chance to take on Obama, virtually ignored his GOP rivals in an announcement video, a column published in USA Today and his speech.

Pawlenty’s Monday visit was his 14th to Iowa since the 2008 election, more than any candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The little-known Midwesterner hopes an Iowa victory will give him a boost into next-up New Hampshire and beyond, a strategy that carries potential benefits and risks.

If he wins Iowa, as he says he must, Pawlenty could emerge as the chief rival to Romney, who lost the GOP nomination in 2008 and ranks higher in polls this year. If Pawlenty falls short, however, he’ll have to reevaluate the viability of his bid for the Republican nomination, despite the two years’ groundwork he’s laid in his neighboring state.

“In Iowa, he is all in. All his cards are right out on the table,” said Bob Haus, a veteran Iowa GOP strategist who managed Fred Thompson’s 2008 caucus campaign and is uncommitted for 2012.

Pawlenty has used his visits to appeal to many of the sometimes fractious segments of Iowa’s GOP base, seeking to compete for all parts of the party.

“He fits with the social conservatives, has the background of a budget cutter, and he’s strong with national security conservatives. Plus, he’s a good guy, and he’s here, working it,” said Richard Schwarm, a confidant of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and a former state GOP chairman who so far hasn’t chosen a candidate to back in the caucuses.

Pawlenty appeared Monday on NBC’s “Today” show and CBS’s “The Early Show.”

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Online link to “Today” show interview: http://on.today.com

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

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May 20, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: A laid-back Midwestern Republican is running for president and will declare his candidacy on …

APNewsBreak: Aide: Pawlenty running for president
May 20, 2011, 2:49 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a laid-back Midwestern Republican who governed a Democratic-leaning state, is running for president and will declare his candidacy on Monday in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa, an adviser told The Associated Press.

The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity in advance of next week’s announcement, said Pawlenty will formally enter the race during a town hall-style event in Des Moines, Iowa.

He’s choosing to make his long-expected bid official in a critical state in his path to the GOP nomination. Advisers acknowledge that Pawlenty, 50, must win or turn in a strong showing during next winter’s caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa to have any chance of becoming the Republican who will challenge President Barack Obama, a Democrat, next November.

After Monday’s announcement, he will head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C.

The move is no surprise.

Pawlenty been laying the groundwork for a national campaign since John McCain passed him over in 2008 as his vice presidential nominee. He has worked to boost his national profile, assemble a staff, travel the country and build a fundraising network, all while positioning himself as a Republican with a record of resisting increases in taxes and government spending. He left the governor’s post in January and he took the first step toward the presidency two months later by setting up an exploratory committee.

In the early stages of the campaign, he has struggled to raise his standing in polls or attract a niche constituency as Republicans with more star power — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and celebrity businessman Donald Trump — dangled themselves as possible candidates, only to opt out of bids.

Pawlenty has some big obstacles as he seeks the GOP nomination in a wide-open field.

He is not nearly as well known nationally as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and even libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul. And others with even bigger names — Sarah Palin — still may enter the fray. So too may a fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is a darling of the tea party and has indicated she’s likely to launch a campaign soon.

The low-key Pawlenty also is fighting an impression at least within the GOP establishment that he’s too bland to excite voters. He also has no personal wealth and isn’t uniquely aligned with any one Republican faction — like social conservatives or fiscal Republicans — as are other candidates.

But in a GOP field with no clear favorite, Pawlenty hopes that he can cobble together a winning coalition of voters by attracting a wide array of Republicans, from religious conservatives to tea party adherents to establishment figures. As he travels the country, he boasts of reining in state spending and blocking tax hikes during two terms as Minnesota’s governor, as well as stressing his working-class roots and evangelical Christian faith.

“I’m the only candidate in the field who can unite the whole Republican Party, not just one part of it, in a genuine and authentic way, and then go out an appeal to the whole country,” Pawlenty said this week before a fundraiser in Minnesota.

He points to his record in Minnesota as proof that he can have appeal across the ideological spectrum.

Pawlenty, who passed up an opportunity to run for a third term as governor to seek the presidency, won the governors’ office twice without a majority of the vote in races that included third-party candidates. During his tenure, Pawlenty had to contend with a Legislature that was partly or fully controlled by Democrats the eight years he was governor.

Minnesota’s divided government led to repeated legislative battles and a partial government shutdown one year. Pawlenty also frequently vetoed tax and spending bills, earning a reputation in the GOP as a fiscal conservative. He pleased social conservatives as well by signing new abortion restrictions and laws favored by pro-gun groups.

But some of his past actions also have drawn tea party skepticism.

Even some Republicans flinched when he used billions in federal stimulus dollars and once agreed to hike state cigarette charges to balance Minnesota’s budget. And Democrats pound him frequently over the $5 billion deficit his Minnesota successor is coping with for the upcoming state budget, although the state will turn a small surplus this summer when the last fiscal year under Pawlenty’s direct control ends.

Pawlenty’s former embrace of energy policies scorned by conservatives — such as a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases — have also been problematic. Pawlenty has disavowed his former stance and apologized for the “clunker” in his record.

Even so, it’s not his record that’s likely to be his biggest challenge. It’s being heard in a crowded field.

Part of the reason: unlike others, he typically shies from the caustic comments and headline-grabbing issues. It’s part of a strategy to come off as a serious-minded candidate in sober times. But his approach has also played into the characterization of him as dull.

Advisers hope that Pawlenty’s ability to connect with small crowds in diners and living rooms will help him win over skeptics in the places where he needs to shine — Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters demand their candidates engage in that type of retail politics. He’s somewhat of a natural at it. He’s good with small talk, often makes goofy poses in keepsake photos and sticks around to shake all hands, helping explain why he’s notoriously behind schedule.

In those settings, he discusses not just what he’d do for the country but also much about his personal story: his boyhood in a blue-collar household in a meatpacking town, his mother’s death of cancer in his teen years. As an adult, he went on to a white-collar job as a lawyer and set down a political path took him from a suburban city hall to a seat in the state Legislature to, eventually, the governor’s post.

“He is doing the soft sell and the soft sell works in the long run,” said Andy Brehm, a Republican strategist in Minnesota. “This is an entirely self-made guy. I don’t think you could ask for a better spokesman for the free market ideas. He’s worked himself up really from nothing.”

Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, a former judge, have two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: 

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May 13, 2011

IOWA conservative group took $3 million in tax funds, which it has since rejected amid charges of hypocrisy.

Iowa conservatives took $3 million in tax funds
May 13, 2011, 4:44 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A conservative group that has brought a string of potential presidential candidates to Iowa to lecture about the need to reduce government spending owes some of its past success to generous federal grants, which it has since rejected amid charges of hypocrisy.

The Family Leader has organized multicity forums for Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Each has called for reining in federal spending and talked about family values.

The same group received more than half of its funding from federal grants over a five-year period when it operated under a different structure as The Iowa Family Policy Center.

The group was among those that benefited from former President George Bush‘s faith-based initiative, which made it easier for social and religious organizations involved in community work to win federal funding.

The organization defends taking the grants, the bulk of which helped provide marriage mentoring for couples, but decided last year to turn down the final $550,000 in grant money and operate free of government involvement. In all, the group had accepted more than $3 million in federal grants since 2004.

“We wanted to be consistent in calling for more efficient, smaller government and came to the conclusion that would best be served by not taking funding from the feds on this,” said group spokesman Chris Nitzschke.

The group in November changed its name to the Family Leader under a reorganization that put former Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats in charge. Its leaders played a key role in the successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices last year over a ruling that legalized gay marriage.

The new group is now trying to flex its political muscle in the lead-up to the Iowa Caucuses in January.

Two more potential GOP nominees, former business executive Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, are on the group’s calendar.

“We begin our pro-family policy agenda by cutting spending, and then we cut taxes,” Bachmann said at one event in April. In March, Paul told the group that society had grown too dependent on the federal government and “we’re at a point now where we can no longer afford it.”

Pawlenty said in February that, to the extent government has to be involved in an issue, it must deliver good value for taxpayers.

Edward Failor Jr., the former president of Iowans for Tax Relief, criticized the group’s credibility on tax and spending issues during last year’s gubernatorial campaign because of the millions in federal aid.

He praised its decision to reject the final year of the grant, saying that marriage mentoring is a service that churches and other groups can provide without government aid.

“I think they did it to be intellectually consistent and honest. Good for them for doing that,” Failor said. ”

As soon as you start taking money out of taxpayers’ pockets, you are beholden to the government in one way or another.”

Records show the policy center was awarded a five-year grant worth $550,000 per year from the Health and Human Services Department in 2006 to promote healthy marriages.

The money went to a program it operates called Marriage Matters, which claims to have saved hundreds of marriages through its mentoring and counseling programs.

The policy center on Sept. 30 received its last $12,600 installment from the grant, which came from $150 million Congress set aside in 2005 to promote healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood.

But as criticism of the group for receiving tax funds was mounting among both liberals and conservatives, Center President Chuck Hurley notified the federal agency in August the group was relinquishing the money and would operate with private funding.

Watchdogs, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, had questioned whether federal tax dollars were being spent to further a conservative religious agenda.

One liberal activist had encouraged same-sex couples to seek counseling through the group to find out whether they would be served. Some conservatives, including members of the tea party, were critical of the group’s leaders for taking the federal money.

Nitzschke said the programming offered by Marriage Matters has been scaled back but some services are still being operated privately.

At the same time, he said the grant money was well spent, with more than 1,200 individuals receiving services every year.

He said that none of the tax dollars went to fund anything religious or political in nature.

A 2008 audit by the Government Accountability Office faulted HHS for a lack of oversight in how the marriage and fatherhood grants that went to dozens of groups were awarded and managed.

The policy center’s tax disclosure for the one-year period through Sept. 30, 2009, the most recent available, shows it received $549,443 in government grants out of revenue just over $1 million.

Nitzschke said the Marriage Matters program was directed by former center vice president Mike Hartwig, who earned part of his salary through the grant even as he was a prominent opponent of gay marriage.

Hartwig called the 2009 ruling that legalized the practice in Iowa sickening.

Nitzschke said the bulk of the money was spent on contracts with individuals across the state to deliver services.

At first he promised to release to The Associated Press annual audits of the grant money that he said found no problems, but he later reversed course and said the group considered that information private.

Randall Wilson, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa in Des Moines, said he wanted a more detailed accounting of how the money was spent and how much went to its administration.

He questioned just how much mentoring the grant helped pay for, saying his group’s limited investigation of Marriage Matters found it gave out money to churches and to host some events for couples.

“The danger always is that federal taxpayer money gets diverted to advocacy causes.

I think one could argue that not all taxpayers agree with Iowa Family Policy Center,” Wilson said. “That, of course, is a big concern of ours. The center was instrumental in removing three Iowa justices.”

In addition to the marriage grant, the policy center accepted $800,000 in 2005 to build its organizational capacity under the Compassion Capital Fund, a key part of Bush’s faith-based initiative.

The group received $50,000 the previous year from a related federal grant program to promote marriage.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: 

Thank you for visiting, do come back for more news…
Warmest regards,

PS., Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Make Your Selection Below!