Branstad at the `Burg
8:41 and I'm here at the Hamburg Inn waiting for Branstad. Most of the seats are full but movement is still easy. I grabbed a seat with another Demo interloper, but everyone knows him and everyone knows me, so I'm here to play it straight. What's Terry saying and what are people asking?
Nomination petitions, for Terry and other Republicans for other offices, are floating about. Looking about most folks have the familiar blue and white BRANSTAD logo stickers on; seems like a crowd of the committed rather than curiosity seekers. There's a UI (heart) TB poster on the front window but the crowd looks older except for obvious staffers. A couple local GOP luminaries: Vanderhoef, Keettel, D. Thornton. I also see Coralville's Kelly Hayworth.
8:52 and other media trickles in. Boss Dave Panther is pouring the coffee himself. Both the Reagan and Clinton tables are full. My quest for an electrical outlet has finally succeeded so I think I can stick with you for the whole show.
As of 8:58 we've progressed to standing room only. I'll say 60 to 65. "Round it off to 500," suggests one supporter. There's TV (channel 9). One supporter wearing a WWRD tshirt (What Would Reagan Do). I think he'd have a pie shake.
9:04 the Comeback Express (pictured above) rolls up. I settle into an awkward stance as mu power crosses the aisle. Chair of Students for TB does the intro, the word "comeback" works in.
9:08 and TB starts. A history lesson and an analogy: if 2008 is 1964, 2010 is 1966 and a Republican comeback.
TB discusses his last 12 years of non-government work. DMU grew, increased endowment, etc. "It was not easy to leave a job I loved, but literally thousands of people said we need your leadership back."
"I have laid out ambitious goals." 200k new jobs. "When I left office unemployment was 2%." (and we were in mid-Bill Clinton era boom but he doesn't note that...) "Increase family incomes by 25%." "We want our young people to be able to get good jobs and stay here." Leading with economy.
"We have a structural deficit. Gov Culver and the Democratic legislature have overspent and overborrowed." across the board cut "a very bad decision." Notes that he did an across the board, but "10% is more than can be managed reasonably." He would have brought Legislature back and prioritized. "Reduce size & cost of govt 15% over 5 years."
Set high expectations for education, reward teachers and schools that exceed. "Need to be able to get rid of supt's principals and even teachers." (So much for that ISEA endorsement he once got...)
9:17 he wraps with "proud to be back in IC." (No cheap People's Republic jokes.) Q&A time.
Plans for students who "aren't really college material." TB touts industrial job training program "I started in 1983." Notes students starting at community colleges before going to university. Talks about his kids; "My family's kind of grown up since I was governor. We have two elections and two babies coming up this year."
Welfare and entitlement programs (that's the questioner's wording.) TB talks about what he did before; also Medicare needs to be reviewed for efficiiency. "There's big mandates that will drive up costs" in federal bill. "It is a great concern of all the governors, and there's no way the federal government can afford it." Questioner follows up on plans to "get people off welfare." Once again, TB talks about what he did before.
Local control of factory farms, water and air quality. (interloper?) "The NR is teh appropriate department to make those decisions, I don't think it s/be one by 99 counties."
Megan Felt, definitely an lefty interloper., asks TB to take a pledge on some financial aid issue. "I don't think we s/be giving finincial aid to people who are here illegally," gets solid applause. Somehow she got right next to him and she's still there.
Asked about closing deficit, TB cites example of Mitch Daniels in Indiana and references 99% rule "which the legislature started abandoning after I left."
"I will work with whoever's elected, both parties," he says when asked about how to work with D legislature. Points to human prop Cloyd Robinson, an ex-DINO legislator from Cedar Rapids, who loudly announces his Branstad support.
The wifi gets iffy. TB opposes bring back touchplay. "How can we stop the supreme court from legislating?" TB sez "the court made a big mistake" and he supports a constitutional amendment to end marriage equality (my wording) and legislature's leaders should allow a vote.
Maria Conzemius catches TB on the way out the door, asks him at great length about human services, and says "my vote will depend on your answer." I don't catch everything they say.
So it's 9:48 and I manage to squeeze into the tail end of the media avail. The DI is asking about student aid. "I was one of those students who came here with a significant need for financial aid. We have to look at how we can be more effective. I want to take a look at the whole record. If you look at my record, you see that when we increased tuition, and it was never double digits, we tried to increase aid."
And that pretty much sums it up: a lot of I did this, a lot of look at my record, a lot of we need to look at this.