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November 1st, 2011

Live Blog: GOP Presidential Forum in Pella

Good morning. TheIowaRepublican is on the scene in Pella at the Vermeer Corporation for a presidential forum focusing on manufacturing. Five candidates will participate: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain declined.

Governor Terry Branstad is one of the moderators. TheIowaRepublican will be live blogging with thoughts and comments throughout.

The forum can be viewed on IPTV World (Mediacom cable channel 119 in central Iowa) starting at 10 am.

Hit “refresh” often to remain updated.

9:31  Folks are still filing in Just bumped into Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds in the lobby area. There is a live crowd here of a few hundred. They have an auditorium-like setting. Tons of media.

9:35  A group of students from Pella Christian High just filed in. Probably from a government class. They’re seated right in front of me.

It is going to be difficult to see the candidates from the media area, I think. It looks like they may remain seated, though I’m not positive. Right now, there are three chairs set up on the stage area, which is not on a riser, so it’s not really a stage.

9:38  Rick Santorum is now chatting it up with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. He’s the only candidate in the auditorium so far.

9:40  They are asking folks to take their seats. Still 20 minutes from air time. This debate is sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers. I believe there will two moderators seated, with the candidate in the middle. This will not be debate style. It will be one candidate at a time.

9:43  The IPTV lady is seated two seats down from me and we came in at the same time. I wonder if she read my article this morning about some Iowa Republicans wanting the candidates to boycott the IPTV/DM Register debate.

9:46  They are asking folks not to applaud.

9:49  Just heard an outstanding rendition of the national anthem from a Vermeer employee. Really, really good. Head of the National Association of Manufacturers now talking to the crowd. I believe they are pre-taping this for the live broadcast.

9:51  Now introducing the chair of the NAM, from Vermeer Corporation here in Pella, Mary Andringa.

9:52  Andringa says her dad started this business over 60 years ago. With one employee. That was 1948. Now 2,000 employees. Impressive.

9:54  Andringa said they’re pleased to have a “great group of folks from the media”. She clearly did not get the memo that the media is the enemy. I wonder if Newt will remind her.

9:59  The crowd looks to be in the 300 range.

10:00  And here we go.

10:01  Mary Andringa is an Obama appointee, but don’t hold that against her. She supported Branstad in 2010.

10:03  Governor Branstad now speaking to the crowd. Again, this is airing on IPTV World. It will re-run a few times today as well.

10:04  The candidates are now taking the stage as a group.

10:05  Rick Perry will be the first participant in the forum.

10:07  Each candidate will have 15 minutes to answer questions from the moderators, as well as the audience.

10:07  First question is about Perry’s flat tax plan. He deflects and says he wants to talk about his jobs plan.

10:08  Perry focuses on energy jobs. Says “Terry and I compete against each other, state against state” to create jobs.

10:09  Perry sounds more comfortable here than he has sounded in most of the debates.

10:10  Branstad now asking Perry about wind energy (Texas & Iowa are # 1 & #2 in the nation).  Perry does not believe wind energy credit should be renewed. “Government should be out of the business of picking winners and losers.”

10:12  Perry says bureaucrats in D.C. should be focusing on the military and securing the border.

10:13  Perry sounds very well-informed and comfortable here. This is the Rick Perry that people were expecting when he jumped in.

10:14  Perry: “I’m an all-of-the-above energy guy…. We’re the Saudi Arabia of coal.”

10:15  He talked about government picking winners and losers for the third time.

10:16  Perry was asked about trade, and he goes back to energy resources. Good grief. Answers the questions, Governor.

10:17  Perry: “We need to get America secure first, before we start developing an export market (for our energy resources).”

10:19  Perry: “I think it’s costing way too much for a young person to go to college.” The audience agrees.

10:21  Perry: “Washington corporate lobbyists are going to hate me as President of the United States.” He’s talking about his flat tax plan now, which includes a 20% corporate tax.

10:22  Perry did very well. Santorum on stage now.

10:23  Santorum mentions the Wall Street protesters. Says he has focused his tax plan on manufacturing.

10:24  Santorum says we don’t need a trade war with China. “No we don’t. We need to just beat them.”  Santorum says “zero out the corporate tax”.

10:27 Santorum now referencing Gingrich’s line about simply electing a new president will boost the economy, because “the attitude will change.”

10:25  Santorum says Obama needs to repeal regulations.

10:28  Branstad is doing a good job asking questions. He’s more comfortable as a moderator than as a debater.

10:29  Santorum says we should get rid of all tax incentives for all energy, to “create that level playing field”.

10:30  Funny moment. Santorum talked about voting against tax credits for ethanol, and something started beeping next time. He joked about it beeping because he spoke out against ethanol. Nice off the cuff moment that the crowd appreciated.

10:32  Santorum says the federal role should continue in interstate transportation.

10:33  Santorum: “The top three candidates on the Republican side all supported the Wall Street bailout.” That’s our first criticism of the rest of the field. Two of the three he is talking about are not here.

10:34  Question from audience about what he would do in the first 100 days to create jobs.  Santorum starts with repealing ObamaCare. He mentioned he has now been to 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties. He will hit all 99 by the end of the week.

10:35  Santorum says reconciliation will help with repeal of ObamaCare, then add, “Having a little experience in Washington will help…”

10:36  Santorum is sometimes a little too long winded but that is not the case today. I think Perry drew out his answers a little more than Santorum.

10:37  Santorum now done. He did well, too. Bachmann is next.

10:38  Michele Bachmann quotes from Steve Jobs, telling Obama “you’re killing us with regulations”.

10:40  Bachmann is sounding very well-informed here on GDP statistics and economic figures.

10;41  Bachmann: “I want to have a flatter, fairer, more simple tax code.” She says her model is Reagan’s tax plan in the ’80s.

10:41  Branstad  chuckled when Bachmann called Dodd-Frank the “Jobs and Housing Destruction Act”. I would think he’s heard that line before.

10:43  Branstad asking a long question about attracting jobs to Iowa, referencing his previous record. Good reply from Bachmann: “Well you just explained why you got reelected Governor.”

10:44  Bachmann: “I was born and raised in Iowa.” Really???????? I hadn’t heard that before.

10:45  Bachmann is now the third (of three) to say she believes in an “all-of-the-above energy approach”.

10:47  I think this is a great format. The candidates are having to show they really know what they’re talking about. It might not be the most exciting debate, but they are required to show depth on the issues.

10:49  Bachmann: “We need to have an immediate moratorium on regulations.”

10:50  Bachmann says we need to have total tort reform and that would address the biggest problem in healthcare today: cost.

10:52  Bachmann: “I don’t want to see manufacturing subservient to government.”

10:53  Bachmann just quoted Steve Jobs again. That has the lead on her Iowa mentions. Bachmann wrapping up. Ron Paul is next.

10:54  I think Bachmann was solid. The first three all sounded very knowledgable and seemed comfortable.

10:54   It took Ron Paul about 20 seconds to steer the conversion toward monetary policy.

10:56  Paul: “I support the lowest tariffs of anybody in Congress….I want the freest trade possible…  I want to trade with Cuba.”

10:57  Paul: “A lot of people who preach ‘free trade’ are the ones who put on these sanctions, so they’re hypocritical…”

10:58  Paul says he would put the corporate tax at 15%. Says corporate tax is the form of a sales tax.

10:59  Did Governor Branstad just endorse a Ron Paul policy proposal? Branstad says Ron Paul has the boldest plan to reduce the debt.

11:00  Paul: “Spending is a tax…you either borrow the money, print the money…”

11:01  I’m enjoying the back and forth between Branstad and Paul. The governor is helping him sound very reasonable and intelligent.

11:02  Paul: “There’s nothing market-oriented about our interest rates, and that’s how you created the bubble.”

11:03  Paul: “In ’08 up until now, nothing has been solved” in regards to the economy.

11:04  Amazingly, no one has yelled “Ron Paul!!!!!” yet. There don’t seem to be many Paulbots here.

11:05  Paul says we should give the Occupy protestors jobs, not forgive their debt.

11:06  Question: “What would you like to hear from the chairman (of the Fed) tomorrow?”  Paul: “He is resigning.”  Crowd loves that answer.

11:08  Paul says the dollar is still respected compared to the Euro and Yen, but it’s still vulnerable.

11:09  Paul is done. Newt Gingrich will be the final participant. Congressman Paul did very well, too. All four so far have been impressive.

11:09  Gingrich: “If you had 99 weeks of unemployment, that’s an associates degree.”

11:10  Newt scores with line, after putting Americans back to work. “Then you’ll tell the Chinese, I know you have a crisis and you’ll try to cancel them.”  He got applause for that one.

11:12  Gingrich: “There is something very structurally wrong with the U.S. economy. It’s the U.S. government.” Newt is doing really here. Not a surprise. “This country has been maniacally anti-jobs…”

11:13  Gingrich kissing up to Branstad: “If Washington were doing as well as you’re doing, we’d put at 4% unemployment…”

11:15  The moderators have really changed up the questions for each candidate. I like it.

11:16  Mary Andringa, NAM chair and Vermeer CEO, asking question to Gingrich about trade.

11:18  Gingrich on Obama: “We don’t hire presidents to go out an be foreign purchasing agents, we hire presidents to be salesmen for the United States.” (applause)

11:17  Gingrich: “I think we should very aggressively try to have the most open markets in the world.”

11:19  Gingrich: “I’m not usually pro-trial lawyer… I’d like to hiring the most aggressive trial lawyer in the country and make them U.S. trade representative.”

11:20  Gingrich says we don’t have to get involved in a fight over ANWR, that there’s plenty of places in Alaska to develop resources. Says we should set aside an area in Alaska “half the size of Texas”. Alaska is 2 1/2 times the size of Texas.

11:22  Gingrich: “It’s legitimate to have biases in the system….there’s a lot of things you can do that don’t pick winners and losers.”

11:23  Gingrich says he would like to see wind energy tax credit extended a minimum of 10 years. He differs with the other 4 candidates here in that regard.

11:24  Gingrich scored. He garnered the most audience reaction. All five candidates did really well in this forum. Video of the event is available on and will re-run on IPTV World and IPTV a few times today.

That’s it for the live blog. Thanks for reading. I’ll have a recap later.

Overall, it was an excellent forum.

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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