Nevada Senator John Ensign was in Iowa yesterday to give a lecture in Sioux City as part of the Iowa-based American Future Fund’s lecture series. AFF is a 527 group that advocates for free market, conservative principles. Ensign’s visit to northwest Iowa is his first to the state, and many view his visit as the kick off of the Republican presidential nomination process for 2012.
At his first stop of the day, Trans Ova Genetics, Ensign downplayed any presidential aspirations he may have by saying that he is focused on his job as a United States Senator, and he is just traveling the country to promote conservative solutions to the issues that face our country.
Ensign made the most of his visit to Iowa. In addition to his visit to Trans Ova in Sioux Center, Ensign was greeted by 40 or so at the Wells Blue Bunny ice cream parlor in Le Mars before heading to Sioux City. While in Sioux City, Ensign attended a private dinner at Luciano’s, a restaurant owned by former Iowa GOP Chairman Ray Hoffmann. Nearly twenty people attended the dinner, which included GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants and his wife Trudy, Bruce Rastetter, Rep. Chuck Soderberg, Sen. Randy Feenstra, and Rep. Doug Struyk.
After dinner, Ensign made his way to the Wilbur Aalfs Library in Sioux City to give his AFF lecture. More than 100 people packed the venue to get their first glimpse of Ensign. Chris Rants served as the moderator of the event, and Congressman Tom Latham made a cameo appearance as he was in town raising money for his re-election campaign.
Ensign’s remarks in Le Mars and Sioux City mainly focused on three areas: the courts, health care and education. The conservative Senator from Nevada also spent plenty of time talking about his own background and took questions from the audience in Le Mars and Sioux City.
Anytime a politician like Ensign travels to Iowa, speculation of a looming presidential campaign follows. It wouldn’t matter if he came to Iowa to visit friends and relatives, because the local and national media would still speculate that his trip was politically motivated. With that being the case, Ensign was wise to make multiple stops during his day in Iowa, which allows him to get a feel for what a presidential campaign would be like in our state, all while raising him name ID in the most conservative part of the state.
While Ensign was adamant that he did not come to Iowa to run for President, he sure looked and sounded the part. Time will tell if Ensign was testing the waters or not. By all accounts, Ensign’s first trip to Iowa would be considered a huge success if compared to inaugural visits to the state by other presidential hopefuls.
It is not typical to have Fox News’ Carl Cameron following you around and healthy crowds at all of the campaign stops if you are anything but the front runner in a the presidential contest. Many presidential candidates never achieve the level of media attention that Ensign received yesterday. While some of that attention is due to Ensign’s emerging national status, the folks at the American Future Fund are also to be commended in creating the buzz around their events by scheduling Ensign like they did.
Below are some videos of Ensign’s Iowa visit, as well as reaction by a few of the people who were in attendance.
Ensign Speech in Le Mars
Ensign on Judicial Nominees
Ensign Question and Answer
Reaction to Ensign Lecture
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