GOP 'Dream Team' pays a visit to Mt. Pleasant
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Some termed it the “GOP Dream Team.” Others referred to it as “Team Branstad.”
But whatever it was, it was in Mt. Pleasant Wednesday.
Fresh from primary victories Tuesday, the state’s top Republicans made a tour of southeast Iowa, visiting Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Burlington and Davenport in addition to Tazza Bella in Mt. Pleasant.
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds led the entourage, which also included U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst and U.S. Congress nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Others in the group included State Auditor Mary Mosiman, Secretary of State candidate Paul Pate and Attorney General candidate Adam Gregg.
The GOP tour resembled more of a pep rally than anything else, firing up the base for the five-month interim between today and Nov. 4 (date of the general election).
Mt. Pleasant State Rep. Dave Heaton welcomed the group to Mt. Pleasant. Lt. Gov. Reynolds began the rally with the message she always begins her Mt. Pleasant visits with.
“Kevin (her husband) and I always refer to Mt. Pleasant as our second home (the Reynolds family spent seven years in Mt. Pleasant before heading west); two of our four children were born here.”
Reynolds launched a message that turned into a familiar refrain — an opportunity awaits Iowans in November.
“You have an amazing opportunity to choose this state’s leaders,” Reynolds said, referring to the Republicans surrounding her.
Interspersed with some humor and loud cheering, the 45-minute rally afforded all of the candidates a chance to speak.
Reynolds said that she is excited “about the progress we (she and the governor) have made in the last three-and-one-half years. We eliminated a $900 million deficit and now we have a ($800 million) surplus. We are down 30 percent in unemployment and have 1,000 less state employees. But we’re not satisfied with that.”
Ernst, who is becoming one of the “darlings” of the party on the national stage, scored over 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s five-candidate GOP primary, a feat Branstad termed “pretty phenomenal.”
She said she exceeded her goal on Tuesday. “I was extremely humbled yesterday. My goal was to get 35 percent of the vote plus one (the margin necessary to avoid having the nomination made by the state GOP convention). I was so pleased to have the support of all Iowans.”
Now, she noted she will need unified support to best Democratic challenger Bruce Braley. “We have to pull together if we want to achieve our objective in the fall and that is to beat Bruce Braley.”
Ernst depicted Braley as a flaming liberal, claiming that while in Congress, Braley voted with Nancy Pelosi nearly 100 percent of the time. “At one time he was for the Keystone Pipeline, but now he is against it. He is the biggest cheerleader next to Nancy Pelosi for Obamacare. If we elect him to the Senate, he will be a rubber stamp for Harry Reid (Senate majority leader).”
“We need Iowa values in Washington, D.C.,” Ernst noted. “I was taught at a young age the value of a dollar and we can’t spend more than we take in. That is what we are doing in Iowa and we have to take the ‘Iowa way’ to Washington, D.C.”
Branstad said he is “proud of the fact that we have made the tough decisions and have our state’s financial house in order. We are in the midst of accomplishing some great things.”
He also took the opportunity to jab Illinois, saying that Iowa’s eastern neighbor “has the worst state and local debt per capita in the United States. They don’t have money to pay bills. If you want to find it bad, just look at Illinois.”
The governor, who bested a token opponent in Tuesday’s primary en route to tangling with State Sen. Jack Hatch in November, made special mention of the fact Republicans have women running for the U.S. Senate and Congress. “We have a great opportunity. We can make history this year by electing women.”
Miller-Meeks echoed her predecessors in saying “this is an incredible team to build Iowa’s future and put Iowa in Washington D.C.
“I have always put the people of Iowa first, and it is time we put our hard-working Iowa families, farmers, veterans and businessmen and women first in Washington, D.C.,” she continued. “Our job is to make government accountable. Let’s send a resounding message that we are going to keep our doctors and lose our congressman.”