The pot calling the kettle African-American

I have already weighed in on some of the attempts by the RNC to change the rules mid-stream for the 2012 nominating process. I am equally concerned about some of the future rules changes that have been proposed. I side with the Ron Paul supporters on most of these rule changes, believing them to be unfair in the short run and harmful in the long run. (I have yet to weigh in on binding delegates.) I think that many of the proposals will negatively impact Iowa and other caucus states.

As I have said before, I believe that Ron Paul’s supporters took over the Republican Party of Iowa fair and square. They followed the rules. Even though many of us who were not a part of the revolution felt cheated, but, we could have worked and we could have organized and we would be in the drivers seat today. Good for them. I just wish Paul’s supporters had been gracious winners. At least when the Christian Right was in the driver’s seat, our St. Paul delegation showed some diversity. The voting members of our delegation included supporters of McCain, Romney, Huckabee and yes, even Ron Paul. The Paul strategy was definitely scorched earth, win everything and give no ground.

So it should not be a surprise to anyone that the RNC has decided to come down hard on Paul’s supporters and by association the Iowa GOP. The attempt to change the threshold for nomination was completely legal within the rules. The power grab, giving the campaigns and the RNC more control over the rules and the nomination process, is being carried out within the rules. I hope the convention votes these proposals down, but if they do not, they will have brought about this takeover, within the rules.

Throughout this process, the Paul people have told the rest of us to: do our homework, know the rules, and  organize. After all that’s all they did, if we failed to step up to the plate, it’s not their fault. So, the Romney camp did their homework, they knew the rules and they organized. And now the Paul folks are crying foul.

It may be karma but I didn’t like it in either case.

Libertarians at the Gate

Let’s face it, this election cycle, Ron Paul’s supporters have effectively taken over the Republican Party of Iowa. While they may not be a majority on the SCC, they are largest block and managed to elect one of their own, A.J. Spiker to the party chairmanship. In all four congressional districts, they dominated the district conventions and were able to control all of the key committees for the state convention. The state party is largely staffed with former Paul staffers and the Iowa delegation to the Republican National convention consists of 28 delegates, 23 of whom (according to are Paul supporters.

While I did not publicly endorse a candidate in the caucus, it is no secret that I was not a part of the Ron Paul revolution. I nominated Bill Schickel as RPI chair, I ran against the slated Ron Paul candidates for 1st district SCC at the district convention (I won) and ran against the incumbent National Committeeman from the Ron Paul slate at the state convention (I lost). As I have said before on these pages, the Paul supporters played by the rules. When the other campaigns (who had beaten Paul in the caucus straw poll) pulled up stakes and moved on, Paul’s people stayed engaged. They kept staff on the ground throughout the caucus to convention process, They organized and they got their people to show up at conventions and they prevailed. They played by the rules and they won fair and square.

Now I would argue that after the caucus, the Romney and Santorum campaigns moved on because they both were actually trying to win the nomination. They used their resources to run a 50 state campaign, while the Paul team focused on caucus states like Iowa.


Even so, I am bothered by the attempts by the RNC to further control the process from the national level. I was glad to see that they turned back a motion to increase the threshold for nomination at the convention from 5 states to 10. I find it outrageous that they would try to do such a thing in at the last minute. I am pleased to see that our three RNC members, Scheffler, Lehman and Spiker have been consistent in opposing these shenanigans. The proposal to bind delegates and further require them to have the approval of the national campaign is even worse. It remains to be seen what impact it would have but it could cost Iowa our First-in-the-Nation Caucus.

I believe that the grassroots should choose the delegates and the delegates should choose the nominee, not the other way around.


It wasn’t too long ago, that I can recall being a Christian at the Gate. Looking at the Republican establishment from the outside, fighting to add and then strengthen the pro-life position within our platform and among our leaders. We Christian evangelicals reached the height of our influence in 2008 when Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman were elected to the RNC.

One of the best things about Iowa GOP politics is that the direction of the party is controlled by the grassroots. It is easy to get involved and a group of like-minded people working together can make a difference in the direction of this party. As Iowa Republicans, even if we are not happy with the direction of the current leadership (or previous leadership, or future leadership) we should vigorously fight to keep the system in place that allows the grassroots to drive the process.

Platform, Principle or Party

There has been a great deal of discussion lately of whether it is appropriate to take a stand for principles or party. I believe that this discussion is healthy. If my readers will indulge me, I will share a story that illustrates where I stand in this debate.

In his recent Open Letter to Senator Grassley, Representative Kent Sorenson made reference to principles as defined in our party’s platform. Since my return to Iowa nearly twenty years ago, few people have been as involved in the formulation of our state platform as I. After the very first caucus I attended after moving to Cedar Rapids, I was elected to my county, district and state platform committees. In 2008 I served on the National Platform Committee at the Republican National Convention. Over the years, I have chaired my county, district and state platform committees numerous times. I have been involved with the platform precisely because I believe that our principles matter. However, as I often took on the job of committee chairman, I have always felt that my public role at convention was not primarily ideological – rather I felt duty bound to try and run the platform debate fairly. As platform chair, I have often given procedural advice to individuals whose positions I do not support . Anyone who has seen me run a platform debate knows that I try very hard not to editorialize, interpret or otherwise speak ex-cathedra.

Anyone who served with me on the platform committee knew that I was a conservative. A social conservative, a fiscal conservative and a constitutionalist. However because of my self-imposed neutrality in our conventions most in our district did not really know that I was a conservative. That changed one year at the district convention.

The year was 2000. Linn County was part of the old 1st
Congressional District and the District Convention was held in Cedar Rapids. I was the chair of the District Platform Committee. Our proposed platform, in the section on Republican Party and Commendations contained the following plank:

We support a ban on party funds, including soft money, at all levels for candidates who support abortion.
Needless to say, this plank was controversial. An amendment to strike the plank was proposed and received by our committee with the appropriate signatures. I don’t really remember the debate. I am sure that there were the normal 2-3 speakers in favor of dropping the plank and 2-3 opposed. But the vote, I remember like it was yesterday.

When each side had presented their arguments, I asked for the yeas and nays. Of course, the vote was loud and much too close to call. Immediately there were calls for a division from both sides. I asked the county chairs to tally their votes and bring them to the convention secretaries. There was a growing buzz in the hall. I could tell that it would be close so I made sure to ask the secretaries, and other convention staffers who were delegates if they wished to cast a vote and we recorded them. When the secretaries had tabulated the vote, they passed me a sheet of paper. The motion to remove the plank had prevailed by one vote I don’t remember the exact number but let’s say it was 300 yea to 299 nay.

Well, I had been looking for a way to make a statement for my principles within what I considered my ethical duty as chair. I announced the vote as follows:

The vote is three hundred in favor to two hundred ninety-nine opposed. The chair casts a NO vote creating a tie. Therefore, failing to achieve a majority, the amendment fails — the plank shall be retained.

I had taken a stand on my principles and cast the deciding vote. At that point the place erupted. It was about as close to a riot as we Republicans get. (Except of course for Greg Baker in the Iowa House Chambers 😉 There were points of order raised all across the auditorium. Many people said that the chair can only vote to break a tie. However Roberts Rules of Order allows a chair to either make or break a tie. Even though both I and the parliamentarian read chapter and verse from Roberts Rules the
commotion went on for what seemed like an eternity.

Afterward an angry candidate (I do not recall who he was) who was not pro-life came up and started arguing with me. He asked how I could support such a plank in our platform that would exclude him. I told him then what I still believe today:

The platform represents the core beliefs of the grassroots activists of our party. And the grassroots activists in this party are pro-life. The platform is however just a statement of principles. I support the plank because I want to make a clear and strong statement that we as a party are a pro-life party. Is there room for Republicans like you? If you win your primaries yes — but I want those candidates who are out of sync with our platform to know it. I want them to feel that they are sort of on the fringes of our party.

Now if I were on the State Central Committee would I vote not to support pro-abortion candidates? No.If they win their primaries, they have passed the litmus test. Whether I like it or
not I would, if in leadership, support those candidates.

I believe that our party leaders need to support all of our candidates. However, there is a vetting process, there is a litmus test — the primaries. If we at the grassroots cannot nominate candidates whose beliefs are in line with our own — shame on us.

Only Nixon (or Jim Leach) could go to China …

Chet the LiarOnly Nixon could go to China … In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Mr. Spock quotes this old Vulcan proverb.

This morning WHO radio reports that former 2nd District Republican congressman, Jim Leach may be the next United States Ambassador to China.

Of course, on this blog, I have referred to Jim Leach as a RINO and a traitor. (Congressman Leach is the only person I have ever called a RINO on these pages.) In that post, I also noted that I know Jim Leach personally to be an honest man and a gentleman. So I find myself in the strange position of applauding Obama’s choice (or potential choice) of Jim Leach for Ambassador to China.

I certainly would have policy differences with Leach. However, Barack Obama is the president of the United States. He sets the foreign policy fo the United States, Hillary Clinton is the Secretary of State and she is charged with implementing and advocating that policy abroad.

Under this president, I know that Jim Leach would make an excellent ambassador to China. I just don’t want to hear President Obama use this as an example of bi-partisanship. From a policy standpoint, Jim Leach has not been a Republican for a long time.

Now if President Obama wants to make Tom Tancredo ambassador to Mexico — that would be bi-partisan!

The Boys Are Back in Town

IowaThe Boys are back in town. We are not even through pointing fingers and placing blame for the 2008 elections — the race for 2012 is on.

This morning, I was running some errands and I had some time to kill. I took my daughters to Barnes and Noble in Cedar Rapids. When I pulled up I saw the Huckabus. I knew that Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was coming to town but I had forgotten that it was today.

My daughters wanted their picture taken with the bus. When we went inside, the got to see the governor from afar. I was excited to see several of my friends there who had been active in the Huckabee campaign.

This Saturday, I am going to go see Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal at a fundraiser for Serve the City. Serve the City is an evangelical ministry that has been instrumental in flood releif in Cedar Rapids.

After his CR appearance, Governor Huckabee was off to a Des Moines book signing. After Saturday’s breakfast, Governor Jindal will be on his way to Des Moines for an Iowa Family Policy Center event.

I arrived at the Huckabee event late (since I was really only planning on taking my girls to Barnes and Noble) but when I arrived there were more than 100 people still there. I didn’t see 500 but perhaps the crowd had thinned by then.

Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign …

IowaMy kids complain that I have a song for everything. I was home this weekend after being on the road for two weeks and missing the Cedar Rapids, McCain-Palin event. As I drove in my neighborhood, I saw two of the major streets, Stoney Point Road and 1st Avenue lined with McCain-Palin signs.

I could not help but start singing:

Sign, sign everywhere a sign …

The song of course is Signs by the Canadian group Five Man Electrical Band from 1970. My kids just roll their eyes when I do that.

But the signs are significant. It shows that people are fired up about the ticket. It also shows that the McCain camp and Victory teams are doing their job. They are making calls, knocking on doors, giving out signs and recruiting volunteers.  Shout out to Luke Martz, the Victory staffer based in Marion — keep up the good work.

I’m going to be in Iowa for the next few weeks so I plan on getting out and doing some voter contact through the Victory office.