News Center

October 29th, 2011

Live Blog: Steve King’s “Defenders of Freedom” Event is in Sioux City this evening for Congressman King’s 4th annual “Defenders of Freedom” event. Former UN ambassador John Bolton is the featured speaker. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is also on hand. All the GOP candidates were extended invitations. Shockingly, Santorum is the only one who accepted.

The event gets underway at 5:30. I will be updating frequently.

Hit “Refresh” on your computer page often to keep updated.

4:28  Senator Santorum will do a press conference prior to the event. That should get underway in a few minutes. The doors don’t open for the KIng dinner until 5 pm. We are at the Sioux City Convention Center in downtown.

4:37 Still waiting for Santorum to show up. Congressman King now chatting with the media.

4:38 King says this event is usually in the spring. The day came about because King talked to John Bolton about pheasant hunting. King says Bolton would make an exceptional Secretary of State.

4:39 King says he has a history with all the candidates, including Herman Cain, who he’s known for 10 years. Says they would all make a better president than Obama. He is still conflicted on who he might endorse, if he will.

4:40 “It implies that, if I endorse a candidate, there’s something wrong with the others.”

4:41 Congressman King says the flood on the Missouri River is a disaster, an economic disaster. Talks about homes, farms and drain bins that have washed away. “It looks like a place to train for the Iraq War.”

Says he has introduced legislation to get the Corps of Engineers to lower the water levels upstream.

4:43 Thoughts of Occupy Sioux City: “This is being funded by left wing interests, anti-free enterprise interests.”

4:44 King says he thinks they do have a point in some of their complaints about the Wall Street bailouts. Says the Tea Party was already on that case, and the Tea Party cleans up after themselves, unlike the Occupy folks.

4:46 Congressman King now chit-chatting with the media. Official press conference is over.

4:49 Senator Santorum is here. Shaking hands with Steve King. He just met with Pastor Cary Gordon, influential evangelical leader in Iowa.

4:51 Santorum both talking about the pheasant hunt with Congressman King last week. Both saying they had a great time.

4:52 Santorum on 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan: “Shows we still have a lot of work to be done.” Says Obama is giving the enemy hope by putting a timeline on when the U.S. will leave.

4:53 Santorum: “The best thing we can do for the troops is give them the best chance for success and this president has not done that.”

4:54 Santorum asked about Occupy movement, including one in Sioux City today. He says they have legitimate concerns about bailouts and Wall Street. Slams the “top three candidates” in the GOP polls who all supported TARP, talking about Cain, Perry and Romney.

4:56 Santorum on Obama’s student loan program: “I would be against anything that provides loan forgiveness. Someone who takes out a loan has an obligation to pay that loan.”

4:57 Santorum: “The federal government shouldn’t be in the loan forgiveness business.”

4:58 Santorum asked about strategy for Iowa to boost his poll numbers. “I knew from the very beginning this was going to be a very contentious race…. .I think the differentiator for me is that I’m someone who has been a consistent conservative, who has not flip-flopped.”

4:59 Ambassador Bolton just walked in the press room.

5:00 Santorum: “I feel very confident that we’re going to surprise a lot of people in this race.”

5:00 John Bolton on 13 u.s. soldier deaths today, says it’s a “clear signal that the Taliban can continue to strike at will.”

5:02 Bolton on Obama withdrawing from Iraq: “This is a repetition of George McGovern.”    Bolton says his speech will focus on the necessity to foreign policy and national security to be a key issue in this campaign.

5:02 Bolton: “The U.S. bungled the Arab Spring at the beginning.”

5:03 Bolton on endorsement: Says he might. He is still weighing how he can make the most impact to make sure national security is an issue in this race, whether that’s through an endorsement or by making speeches like this one.”

Press conference is over. Dinner soon, then the program begins.

5:11 Crowd starting to file in. Looks like there will be around 300 folks here. That’s a big crowd. The other presidential candidates who declined invitations made a big mistake.

5:30 This should come as no surprise. Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies event in Des Moines today, with 82% of the 430 votes cast. More on that in Kevin’s Korner tomorrow.

5:41 The event is now getting underway. Sam Clovis, an occasional TIR contributor, is the master of ceremonies.

5:47 Pledge, national anthem and invocation are done. Getting ready to eat. I’m starving.

5:48 Dinner is served. I will be back with updates after I pig out.

5:58 Well, the salad was very good, but I got stiffed on the cucumber. None for me, but every other plate at the table had one. It’ll be strawberry shortcake for dessert. Looks excellent.

5:59 Among the high profile Republicans here at state rep Dwayne Alons. I’ll get other names later, after the main course.

6:00 Wait…Minnesota beat Iowa???? OMG. That hurts. Gophers were 1-6. I listened to the 1st half on the drive up here to Sioux City. Dolph and Gary did not sound happy, but last I checked the Hawks were up by 11. Devastating loss.

6:27 I’m back. The meal was outstanding. Beef tenderloins with gravy and mushrooms, potatoes and green beans. Mom would be proud. I ate all my green beans. And the strawberry short cake. Now I’m stuffed.

Senator Santorum is now working the room, visiting with each individual table. Smart move. The main program should get underway shortly. It will be Santorum speaking, then John Bolton, followed by closing remarks by Congressman King.

6:30 Sam Clovis is back on the stage, honoring some special guests. They include state reps Dwayne Alons, Gary Worthan, Ron Jorgenson, and state central committee member Craig Williams. Now introducing Rick Santorum.

6:31 Standing ovation for Santorum.

6:32 BTW, tickets for this event cost $50. There’s around 300 folks here. You do the math. It’s not my forte. It adds up to a very good fundraiser for Congressman King.

6:33 Santorum mentioning Al Ringgenberg, who is running against senate majority leader Mike Gronstal next year. Santorum and King both attended Ringgenberg’s fundraiser last night.

6:34 Santorum on Steve King: “There is no one out there having a bigger impact on the conservative movement on the national scene…. a true conviction conservative… “

6:35 Santorum with more praise for King: “Steve King is one of those rare birds… He is a national treasure and I just want to say to you, and I know he’s got a tough race …. They are going to come after him… He is a national leader. He’s helped mobilize the conservative cause and the Tea Party movement…. They think they have the candidate, although I don’t understand why they think they have the candidate (Christie Vilsack)…”

6:37 Santorum talking about all the liberal special interest groups who are backing King’s opponent. He never mentions her by name.

6:38 Santorum: “Please don’t lose sight of how important this man is and this race is for the country and for Iowa.” High praise. Somebody wants an endorsement. Frankly, I think it’s down to Perry and Santorum for Congressman King’s support, if he does endorse. Bachmann not being here says a lot.

6:39 BTW, Michele Bachmann is in Iowa today. And the above comment was just my opinion. That’s not any inside information.

6:40 Santorum says he was asked the other day what kind of person he would want for Sec. of Defense. “Well, he’s John Bolton sound to you?”

6:41 Santorum: “The Iranians just tried to attack us on our soil and the president has barely mentioned it….. The Arab Spring has turned into an icy cold winter.”

6:42 Santorum just called the American foreign policy (under Obama) “pathetic”.

6:43 Santorum is sticking to national security issues in his speech. Now giving his resume of foreign policy credentials. Encouraging crowd to watch upcoming debates that will focus on national security. “There’s one person out there on that stage that has the experience to lead this country…. “

6:44 Santorum says in debates he’s gotten fewer questions than all the others, but he gets all the questions about social issues. He told Mike Huckabee the other day, “Mike, they’re trying to Huckabee me.” … Santorum says, “I apologize not for being a warrior on those issues.”

6:45 Santorum says the only vote on the issue of marriage in the U.S. Senate was because he pushed for it. Says he was the “skunk in the garden party”. LOL.

6:47 Senator Santorum is now talking about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. “Has this country stood for the value of life? The answer is, ‘We have not'”.

6:48 Santorum says he loves how Republicans are called “anti-science”, but when it comes to issue of life the country denies the most basic science: life. “The most dangerous place in the world is in the womb.”

6:50 He has now shifted to repealing ObamaCare, one of Steve King’s pet projects.

6:51 “If we don’t repeal ObamaCare, what our Founders fought for, what our ancestors bled and fought for, we will be the generation that almost gave it away…”

6:53 Santorum says “I can stand up here and share my economic plan. It’s better than everybody else’s I might add.” But says this election is about more. About our God given rights.

6:54 Santorum says he’s been to 78 counties, will have 99 by the end of the week “And Chuck Grassley will have nothing on me.” He gets laughs and applause for that line.

6:56 Santorum says the reason gay marriage is an issue is because we have not had anyone go out and talk about the institution of marriage and sell it to the American people. Says Steve King does that and we need that kind of president, and that we haven’t had that kind of president since Reagan.

6:58 Senator Santorum says he will represent the values of northwest Iowa. Says Americans will elect a president “that believes in them”.

7:00 He implores the crowd to be “more active than you’ve ever been… If we lose this election then we will be the generation that gave away everything that is good about this country.”

7:01 “Please do everything you can. Help this good man (Steve King).”

7:01 Standing ovation for Rick Santorum.

7:02 Sam Clovis now introducing Ambassador John Bolton.

7:04 John Bolton says one of the reasons the Democrats have targeted Steve King is because he is a leader on conservative issues. “Whatever I can do to help Steve get reelected, I’m certainly going to try.”

7:06 Bolton says Santorum was a “very serious player and leader in Washington when he was there… Displays that combination of knowledge on foreign and domestic issues… “

7:07 John Bolton urges crowd to press all the candidates on what their views are on national security and foreign policy. Says you “cannot participate in the caucus process” until you do so.

7:08 Bolton says we run the risk of selecting someone who is “not qualified, like our current leader in the White House is… we haven’t pressed the candidates enough… If we haven’t pressed the candidates, the risk of failure is very high.”

7:09 “If I just leave you with one message tonight… you cannot do your job as a citizen without requiring the candidates to develop some thinking on national security.”

7:10 Bolton says Obama is still not ready to lead the country on national security issues, after three years in office. Adds that he is the first president since Franklin Roosevelt not to make national security his top priority.

7:11 “He doesn’t see the rest of the world as terribly challenging or threatening.”

7:14 Bolton on Obama: “He is a president who feels comfortable with American decline.”

7:15 Bolton says the existential threat for all of us today is the combination of radical terrorism and the threat of nuclear weapons.

7:16 Bolton talking about our inability to get North Korea to give up its nukes. “There’s every reason to believe they’ve been cooperating with Iran…for the last 10 years.”

7:17 “You think the North Koreans were in Syria because of their close cultural ties?”

7:18 Congressman King’s one year old granddaughter Reagan is walking around in the back of the room. Just made a bit of a ruckus. She’s adorable.

7:19 Says economic sanctions will not prevent nukes. “We are on the road to a nuclear Iran.”

7:20 Bolton: “You don’t want to be beholden to the whims of some foreign leader. Particularly ones that value life in the hereafter more than life here on Earth.” … Says it doesn’t stop with Iran. “Saudi Arabia will get nuclear weapons, Egypt will, Turkey will… “

7:20 Bolton: “We have to have someone to understand the nature of this threat…(in the White House).”

7:22 Bolton says all the indications are the new regimes after the Arab Spring are more likely to be susceptible to radical ideologies.

7:23 “We are entering a very threatening period…. Failing to pay attention to these threats internationally doesn’t make them go away.”

7:24 “Unless we have leadership in Washington capable of dealing with these and other problems, we won’t be secure in the world,” Bolton says.

7:25 “All of this can be changed instantly,” Bolton says and tells the crowd that’s why its role in the Iowa Caucus is so important.

7:26 Bolton just finished. Another standing ovation. Very good, yet scary speech.

7:27 Congressman King now taking the stage to huge ovation.

7:28 “First order of business…” honors his with of 39 years.

7:29 Just saw former Secretary of Ag candidate Mark Leonard, who is the former chair of the Ida County GOP. Great guy. Glad to see him doing well.

7:32 Congressman King : “Some people are waiting for me to make an endorsement. I’m going to do that right now… I endorse John Bolton for Secretary of State.”

7:34 King: “I’ve had the privilege of listening to Rick over the last year or so… and I learn more each time Rick Santorum speaks to each group. It’s a different speech each time…”

7:35 Now talking about his good friends the Vilsacks: “Christie Vilsack let it be known over a year and a half ago she would move wherever she had to to be placed against me to try to defeat me… That’s not the highest princpled stand…” NO KIDDING.

7:36 King now talking about his long history with former Governor Vilsack, including taking him to court over an executive order, and winning.

7:37 “Christie is apparently the lead for Tom Vilsack… You look at the strategy here in Iowa. If Tom Harkin is nearing the end of his career here in Iowa.. If that happens, who is the most likely to run for that seat? Tom Vilsack.”

7:38 King: “We have a set of values here that are the foundation for America… If it were not for Jesus Christ, there would not be a United States of America.” (applause)

7:39 King says the people who want to scrub those values is “a direct assault” on our society.

7:40 King now shifting to immigration.

7:41 He’s talking about drug smugglers coming across our lines every day. 80-90% of the illegal drugs consumed in our country come through Mexico, King says the DEA informs him.

7:42 King: “We have 25,064 arrests in America of arrests on homicide by illegal aliens…. If we enforced our borders, those people would be alive today.” Says he will offer a bill recognizing those folks next week.

7:44 King says if the Chinese can build the Great Wall, there’s no reason we can’t.

7:45 King says he grilled Janet Napolitano last week and mentions Eric Holder will come before the judiciary committee December 8th to answer questions about the “Fast and Furious” scandal.

That got applause from the crowd.

7:46 King says they’re opening I-680 on Wednesday of next week, which has been closed for months after the flooding.

7:47 King: “I believe the number one plank in the platform is going to be ‘Repeal ObamaCare'”…  no matter who the GOP nominates.

7:48 King says we have to win the presidency as well as the majority in the senate to repeal ObamaCare. Says he wants the new president to sign the repeal as soon as his oath of office is concluded.

7:50 Says he wants to repeal any act signed into law by Barack Obama, among those being Dodd-Frank.

7:51 King says Republicans have been getting it wrong by saying “jobs,jobs,jobs”… “This isn’t a consumer driven economy, this is a production driven economy.”

7:53 King says we have over 100 million people not working in our country.

7:55 King says “the powerful forces of environmental extremism” are controlling the Missouri River levels.

7:56 I just heard the National Federation of Republican Assemblies endorsed Rick Santorum today in Des Moines. That was a vote by the delegates from all over the country. Ron Paul won the group’s Iowa straw poll earlier today.

7:58 King: “I agree with John Bolton’s statement: There’s no way negotiations will solve our problems with Iran.”

8:00 I’ve been sitting for almost 4 hours straight,on top of the 3 hour car ride, plus another 3 hours to go home. My backside is getting sore. This car ride will not be fun.

8:01 Congressman King just wrapped up. Another standing ovation.

8:01 Sam Clovis: “I see some of you want to stay on your feet because you want to think this thing is over.” LOL. Amen, Sam.

8:02 Sam is wrapping up now. This was really a good event. All three speeches were good. I think Santorum helped himself by participating in this event. I’m still dumbfounded that the other GOP candidates didn’t try to make it here. You’ve got 300 caucus goers here who just paid $50 a piece to hear a conservative message. Bad move by the rest of the field that didn’t make it.

8:04 The event is over now. Thanks everyone for reading. I’ll see you tomorrow morning in Kevin’s Korner.

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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