Friday, March 25, 2011

Barbour, Schultz at Johnson County Republicans

Barbour, Schultz at Johnson County Republicans

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a likely presidential candidates, focused on attacking President Obama's economic record at Friday's Johnson County Republican spaghetti supper, with not one word about social issues or foreign policy.

The night's other key speaker, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, focused almost entirelyly on his signature issue, photo IDs for voting, saying it was "non-negotiable."

Following is a trademark Deeth Pseudo Liveblog.

5:46 and greetings from Tiffin where Mayor Royce Phillips has just welcomed us to the Republican spaghetti supper. The camera died ands the wifi is passworded (I tried to hack in with “Clippers” and failed). Barbour just strolled by and shook my hand.

Steve Scheffler from the RNC is handling the prayers. “We have drifted from the spiritual roots of our fathers” etc. Ends with In Jesus Name.

Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley is on hand, also Jarad Klein. I had a great uncle Paul McKinley in my roots from not too far from his turf, Unionville MO: wonder if we's kinfolk? McKinley looks like our first speaker at 5:51-no, wait, we get five minutes to grab food. I ate beforehand, but have been told I'm more than welcome to donate and eat.

We probably have 100 or 120 on hand, I'm sure my GOP readers will dispute that but that's my best guess. Jeff Kaufmann is in the house as well.

Barbour is working the room, taking a good chunk of time with folks. Not in any hurry. He's got a red Mississippi map pin on the lapel where a flag pin would be. “Hi, I'm Haley.”

He works my way again (I'm strategically located next to the pie and thus hard to miss) and sees me taking a picture with the backup system, the Blackberry. “Hope ya made me look thin,” he jokes, remembering I'm press, so I catch a couple questions.

Time frame for a decision? “By the end of April. I consider this a very important state, not only in the caucuses but in the general election as well.”

Chuck Grassley said there were two or three qualified candidates, are you one? “You'd have to ask Senator Grassley that. He and I have a good relationship going back to when I was RNC chair.”

6:11 and Jeff Kaufmann, a member of House GOP leadership speaks real briefly on the way out the door: “We want campaigns to mean something again. We're checking (our promises) off, we're going to follow through and do exactly what we said.”

6:12 and now McKinley. “We heard all the talk about hope and change. We got the change, now the hope is a Republican resurgence.” Obama's biggest accomplishment? “He actually made Hillary Clinton look moderate.”

Matt Schultz now in the house.

McKinley continues on education: “it is not about money. Iowa is made up of hard working productive people. “

“After 2012 we will capture the majority in the Senate and we can say Iowa is on the rise again.”

6:22. Barbour now. “I used to be a lobbyist so I'm used to talking and eating at the same time.”

“I am seriously thinkin' about running for president.” (applause) “If you're not already committed I hope you'll keep your powder dry, Can't ask for anything more than that.”

“I'm not one of these guys who's been wanting to run for president his whole life.”

“I've been involved in national politics since 1968. In all that time I never hear a statement that I now hear every day: I am concerned that my children and grandchildren are not going to inherit the same country we have today. Never heard it till the last 18 months. The stakes are incredibly high for the election of 2012.”

“These six electoral votes may be the difference between election a new president and four more years of Barack Obama (boos)”

Notes that he headed the R Governors in 2009-10 and cites gains from 22 to 29. “It's bad to stifle the urge to applaud.” (applause ) “It's not bad for you it's bad for me.”

“2010 was the most policy-driven election of my lifetime. Because the American people across the board understood that the Obama Pelosi Reid policies were bad for economic growth and job creation.”

“The president asked for and fought for that tax increase. He only through in the towel when not a single Republican senator would vote for it in the lame duck session. Then the liberal media said Obama had 'moved to the center'. It's like Ronald Reagan used to say about the Democrat's playbook: “Fake up the middle and run around left end.”

“Look at the data for 30 years: when gov't spending goes down employment goes up. When gov't spending goes up employment goes down. It is almost literally an exact inverse relationship. How can the economy grow when the govt is suckin' up all the money?”

Takes it over the line here: "And that's what Obamacare is, a government run health care system.” Huh? Coulda fooled THIS single payer guy... “How are you gonna hire more people when you don't even know what your health care obligations to your employees are?”

Says Obama energy policy is “Drive up the cost so Americans will use less. It's not energy policy it's environmental policy. There will be less pollution because we'll be in a deep deep recession. They may need $8 or $9 a gallon in Berkeley but we don't need it in Biloxi. $4 gasoline is bad for Iowa, bad for America, bad for agriculture, bad period.”

“Consistently the policies of this administration have been bad for the economy and business. Bigger government means a smaller economy. If you elect Republicans you will get limited government.” But, ignoring a biiiig chunk of the budget: “with peace through strength.”

“Let's make the election about that and get the country back on a path that was not too many years ago was a bipartisan path on the economy” and he includes Bill Clinton on that. “Bill Clinton lowered the capital gains tax rate. We knew we had to have open markets for our products. It's interesting to me that Bill Clinton signed NAFTA but this administration won't sign an agreement with Columbia because of a sop to the labor movement.”

Obama: “Unlimited faith in limitless government. They think we're too stupid to make our own decisions, and we know just the opposite is right.”

Wrapping with the “inherit the same country” theme. Not Word One on social issues. “The American People are tired of happy talk.”

Wraps at 6:40; goes back to working the room.

6:47 and the next speaker is representing “Strong America” which appears to be some sort of deficit hawk group. He has a slide show. Some folks attentive, others catch up on chitchat. We have a Miller-Meeks sighting. Elvis, er, Barbour, appears to have left the building. I spy a couple other interlopers from my team, but one is a fellow blogger and the other is half of a politically mixed marriage, so we're all on best behavior. There had been a Facebook mention of “Madison in Tiffin” protesters... but no sightings.

Strong America makes its pitch: Sign up to commit to only support candidates who pledge to cut $1.2 trillion in spending. He asks for a show of hands and only three or four get raised. “Iowa is the lever that moved Barack Obama into the White House; Iowa is the lever that will move him out.” That gets more reaction than the rest of the talk put together.

Schultz gets big applause when introduced; he's clearly a hero to the partisan faithful.

“If you read the Register I'm the worst guy in the state, so I must be doing something right. It boggles my mind that something so simple is so controversial.” Photo ID gets big applause. “There's a lot of misinformation out there. The media's trying to make it out like all the auditors are against me. There's some things that need to be worked out and we're doing that.”

“I don't know a lot but I do know this: you should show an ID when you go to vote. To me that is non negotiable. I don't know why this is a partisan issue. This is about fairness. This is about making sure our vote counts. Don't believe when they say it disenfranchises voters, that's bogus.”

Working the grass rots on the issue: "We need letters to the editor. We need you working the water cooler." Then the new line: "Don't blame the auditors. Blame the senators.” That's aimed at Democrats in general and Jeff Danielson in particular; Schultz is still hoping for a bill this session but if not wants a "bipartisan" bill next session. (Perhaps tacitly admitting that the House Republicans jumped the gun by passing an early in the session bill that, even if you want such things which I don't, has serious problems?)

Speaking of the senators, I forgot to mention Sandy Greiner and Jim Hahn are here.

Another loud applause at speech's end. Pretty much all ID all the time, but that met expectations.

They're starting the auction with Jarad Klein as auctioneer, time for me to sneak out. On my way out Klein says "It's great to be with so many Johnson County people who aren't Mary Mascher or Vicki Lensing." Gets some chuckles.

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