Five GOP presidential candidates take the stage tonight at the Reagan Dinner in downtown Des Moines. TheIowaRepublican is on the scene and we will be providing live updates throughout the evening.
Hit ‘refresh’ often to keep pace. I tend to update every minute or two once things get rolling.
Here is the lineup for tonight:
7:00p- Welcome by Iowa GOP Co-Chairman Bill Schickel
7:15p- Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds
7:20p- U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley
7:26p- Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn
7:30p- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas
7:41p- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota
7:52p- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia
8:02p- Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania
8:13p- Texas Gov. Rick Perry
8:25p- Closing Ronald Reagan tribute video
6:22 The organizers did not factor in the need for electric power for the media, for live blogging. They’re trying to solve that night. Otherwise the live blog might not make it until the end.
6:28 We’ve got power. The media has ceased their whining. I know this won’t be a surprise to most of you, but some in the media can be real whiny jerks.
6:34 Checking the tables outside, it appears all the campaigns are represented, even Cain and Romney, who are absent. Again.
6:36 It’s chilly in the ballroom here at Hy-Vee Hall. So much so that I put my suit coat back on. The room is mostly empty. Most folks are still outside schmoozing.
6:49 Score. They’re playing “Minnie the Moocher” on the sound system. Can’t tell if it’s the original Cab Calloway version. Awesome tune. You might remember it from “The Blues Brothers” movie. Calloway was the man.
6:55 The program is about to begin. Five minutes or so. Crowd is very slowly filling the auditorium.
6:57 We have, by far, the worst seats in the room. The media is stationed behind the camera platform, making it impossible to see the stage or the big screens. They did provide us with what looks like a 32 inch monitor to watch from, that I’m about 20 feet away from.
6:58 The crowd is being asked to take their seats. They’re not really complying.
7:03 TIR founder Craig Robinson has arrived. It’s officially a party now.
7:05 Tons of folks are still out in the lobby area. We’re 5 minutes past start time. Meanwhile, I think they could hang meat from the rafters here and it wouldn’t get bad. I’m not usually cold, but this room is freezing.
7:09 And we’re underway. State co-chair Bill Schickel is on stage.
7:10 Schickel just called SCC member Gopal Krishna “Gopal Christian”. LOL.
7:12 Nice. Half the media stayed seated during the opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m stunned. Not.
7:14 TPaw is here! Is he jumping back in??? No. It was just a brief clip of him in a ONE.org video.
7:15 Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds on the stage now.
7;18 Reynolds encouraging a “spirited contest in the arena of ideas” but encouraging everyone to support the nominee once he/she is chosen.
7:21 Senator Grassley now taking the stage. “We have 12 months to save America from Obama’s ‘Euro-America’.”
7:23 Grassley on Obama: “Instead of being Commander-in-Chief, he’s a campaigner-in-chief.”
7:24 Grassley: “We will no more apologies to the rest of the world about America.”
7:25 Grassley: “If you work hard, if you play by the rules, you will get ahead.”
7:26 Grassley now done. A video for Strong America Now is now playing, featuring founder Mike George. As we reported on TIR, someone was during survey’s in Iowa last week to test the interest in a George candidacy.
7:31 Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn now on stage. “60 days from right now, we start the process of choosing Barack Obama’s Republican successor, and it starts here in Iowa.”
7:33 Strawn says Iowa Republicans have gained on the Democrats in voter registration for 32 straight months.
7:34 Strawn: “Your Iowa GOP will make sure Christie Vilsack and her liberal pals will know it was a huge mistake to move to Ames and try to defeat Steve King.”
7:37 Strawn used his speech to try to rally the GOP troops. They are now playing a video of Rand Paul, to introduce his dad, the first presidential candidate of the evening, Ron Paul.
7:39 Ron Paul taking the stage now. “Of all the presidents I have met with over the many decades, President Reagan was the one I knew the best..and had the most in common with.”
7:41 Paul says Reagan told him there has never been a nation that gave up the gold standard that remained great.
7:42 Paul: “We have spent too much. There’s too much debt. The solution is guess what? Cut spending.” … Paul now talking about his proposal to cut $1 trillion in his first year as president.
7:43 Paul says cut five departments. “There’s no need to have the Department of Education….”
7:45 Paul is fired up tonight and receiving pretty good response from the crowd.
7:46 Paul: “Our liberty and our rights come from our Creator. This is the reason we should all be right to life…”
7:47 Paul: “There should be no income tax…. a national sales tax would be a disaster….” And with that, the Congressman is done. Quick, fiery speech. He did well.
7:48 They’re playing a Rick Perry video now. It looks like they are deviating from the original order.
7:49 Yep. Perry on stage. He was scheduled to the close the show.
7:49 Perry: “Each and every one us ’em (the GOP field) would do a heckuva lot better than what we have in the White House right now.”
7:50 Perry: “No one can argue the president didn’t inherit a bad economy, but no one can argue he ain’t made it worse either.”
7:51 Perry: “I’m for bringing a wrecking ball to Washington.” He’s now talking about his flat tax plan, and pulls out a post card. “I bet even Tim Geithner could get his taxes in if we give him a postcard to send it.”
7:51 Dinner is being served now and there’s some chit-chat in the back of the room making it harder to hear Perry.
7:53 Perry: “America is longing for leadership in this country. That’s what’s missing in Washington, D.C.”
7:54 Perry: “I’ll show courage to reform entitlements.”
7:55 Perry: “I have to think it’s tell for Washington, D.C. to kick the earmark habit for good.” Adds that he will propose an automatic pay freeze for Congress and all federal departments. (applause)
7:56 Perry wrapping up now. Definitely not the goofy style that he used in New Hampshire last weekend. The response was fairly muted. Michele Bachmann on stage now.
7:57 Bachmann thanks the crowd for being here, “Knowing full well you’d rather be at a high school football playoff game.”
8:00 Bachmann is throwing out a lot of facts and figures. “It’s like we’re in a canoe, coming up to the very edge of Niagara Falls… “
8:01 Bachmann talking about Greece, says that’s where the U.S. is headed. Claims she was “the lone voice” saying ‘Stop. No more’.
8:02 Bachmann: “In this nation, we value each life. Each individual life. … We are made in the image and likeness of a Holy God.”
8:03 First mention that she was “born here in Iowa”. Just in case no one knew.
8:03 First applause for Bachmann when she says she has “no doubt Barack Obama will be a one-term president.”
8:04 She’s now getting applause for her “no compromise on repealing ObamaCare”…as well as Dodd-Frank, etc. Bachmann now finished. There’s speeches are going very quickly.
8:05 We’re now seeing a very well produced video for Santorum.
8:06 I guess that means Gingrich will be the closing speaker. That probably does not bode well for the rest of the field.
8:06 Santorum: “I’m proud to announce that I did a Grassley. I did all 99 counties in the state of Iowa.” He’s getting good response for that accomplishment.
8:07 Santorum: “I think I’ve been to 26 Pizza Ranches.” Crowd laughs. There’s no doubt, they are easy places to do events.
8:08 Now I’m getting hungry. They don’t feed the media. A Pizza Ranch buffet sounds pretty good right now.
8:09 Santorum: It is “our faith that makes us great.” Now talking about the “Faith, Freedom and Family” agenda he unveiled earlier today. Says everyone has an economic plan, but no one else has put up a plan like his.
8:11 Santorum: “Rural America will not do well..unless we bring manufacturing jobs back to America.” Getting applause for that.
8:12 Santorum says Europe has greater income mobility now than the U.S.
8:13 The crowd is responding well to Santorum.
8:14 He is talking about his tax plan and the crowd is liking it. “We will have a free market of energy production…”
8:15 Santorum now talking about the upcoming IAEA report. He referenced this last night at the Dallas County GOP fundraiser as well.
8:16 Santorum says if the report shows Iran is close to getting a nuke, “We will have to do something.” …. Add, “We need a nominee that has the courage to act and the courage to go out and tell the American people the truth…”
8:17 Santorum done now. That was a good speech. Perhaps the best audience reaction so far. Newt is taking the stage now.
8:18 Gingrich is praising Matt Strawn for helping lead the GOP gains here in Iowa last year.
8:19 Gingrich on ethanol: “I’d rather have my money go to Iowa than Iran.”
8:20 Newt is now praising the rest of the field. “Ron Paul has been consistent (on monetary policy)… Rick Perry was my mentor on the 10th amendment….. “
8:21 Gingrich: “Michele Bachmann deserves a lot of credit. Not only did she stand up to the Republican leadership….she was the first person to introduce legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank…”
8:21 Gingrich: “No one has done more to raise the issue of the dangers of Iran…”
8:22 Is Newt running for president or VP? He jokes about the two that aren’t here (Romney & Cain). He then says, “We only have one opponent. That’s Barack Obama.”
8:23 Newt says his is “the most substantive candidacy in modern times”. He’s referring to his 21st Century Contract with America.
8:24 Newt: “I am the only candidate in this race that’s balanced the budget for four consecutive years… “
8:24 Gingrich says we are facing “radical ideology with an inexperienced and incompetent president.”
8:24 Newt plugs the movie he and Callista made about Reagan. Then says he will challenge Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates… “I will concede that he can use a teleprompter.”
8:25 Gingrich predicts Obama would accept, because his ego would force him to.
8:26 Gingrich promises in his acceptance speech that “the White House will be my scheduler” and he will go everywhere Obama goes. The crowd ROARS with approval. Newt is finished. Good speech.
8:28 Shickel just dimissed the crowd, prematurely. They are playing a Reagan video now, but it’s impossible to hear it and no one is paying attention to it. Fumbled conclusion. This is, after all, the REAGAN Dinner.
8:29 OK. The lights are on, the Reagan video is still playing, everyone is talking and filing out. Bungled conclusion to a good event. The video is over now and that’s it.
We will have a recap with “winners/losers” bright and early tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading.
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