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December 31st, 2011

Struggling to Understand the Deace/Newt Dynamic

Radio personality Steve Deace’s decision earlier this year to leave WHO Radio, one of the most influential talk radio stations in the nation, just months before a new presidential caucus season, left a lot of Iowans scratching their heads wondering what Deace was thinking.

Based on the principles he has vigorously has espoused in the past, his decision to endorse Newt Gingrich on Friday is yet another perplexing move.

First, you have to understand, in case you didn’t know, that Deace is an unabashed social conservative unlike any other.  Life and marriage are the issues that drive him.  He is the type of guy who has gone to battle against pro-life groups and legislators in Iowa because they wanted to enact a “fetal pain bill” similar to Nebraska’s which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks into the pregnancy.  Deace opposed this because it didn’t seek to stop all abortions.  In his mind, it was just another incremental waste of time that would result a in a bill that still allowed for the murder of most babies.  For him, it was personhood or bust.  He even went so far as to call the pro-life leaders who were trying to pass the fetal pain legislation “pro-choice” or “pro-abortion.

In regard to these issues, Deace often takes aim at the courts.  Gingrich has spoken eloquently about his dramatic plan to reign in the judiciary, which includes things like legislatively eliminating large parts of the federal court system (i.e. the Ninth Circuit and other rogue liberal judges), and subpoenaing judges to testify before Congress regarding controversial decisions.

Gingrich has also articulated a novel idea for attempting to constitutionally protect unborn life via the 14th Amendment, which would not require the passage of a new, additional life amendment.

All of this is right in Deace’s wheelhouse.  These issues are immensely important to him.  And if that were all we knew about Gingrich, Deace’s endorsement would make sense.

But that’s not all we know about Gingrich.  So here’s why some Iowans’ heads are itching over this decision.

In 2006, there was a gubernatorial race in Iowa that pitted Republican Rep. Jim Nussle against liberal Democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver.  Despite a stark contrast between the stated positions of the candidates with Nussle articulating conservative ideals and having a very respectable conservative voting record on both fiscal and social issues, Deace refused to level any praise toward Nussle in the lead up to the general election, and actually took just about every chance he could get to verbally abuse the GOP nominee.


Because several years earlier, Nussle had divorced his first wife and married a congressional staffer with whom he’d had an affair.  Anytime Deace had an opportunity to make a snarky comment about Nussle’s family situation or the fact that Nussle had been unfaithful, he took it, and he took it far.  Nussle went on to lose the election.

Deace crucified Nussle for having had an affair.  Gingrich has had two.  Ironically, Karen Nussle, that congressional staffer mentioned earlier who eventually became Jim Nussle’s wife, worked for Newt Gingrich at the time the affair began.  Even more ironically, Newt’s current wife, Callista Gingrich, happened to be a congressional staffer for Jim Nussle at that same time, which is how she met Newt.

So, apparently, Deace feels that unfaithfulness is evil when Jim Nussle does it, but it’s not quite as bad when Newt does it… twice?

This endorsement decision is also confusing because of the positions that Deace was espousing during the most recent gubernatorial campaign in 2010.  There was a heated primary battle between Terry Branstad and Deace’s friend Bob Vander Plaats.  Once again, Branstad had a pretty conservative record both fiscally and socially.  He had signed every piece of pro-life legislation ever enacted in the state of Iowa during his previous terms as governor.  He vowed to de-fund Planned Parenthood once such a measure passed the legislature, and he promised to appoint conservative judges and support efforts to enact a marriage amendment.

But Deace brutally vilified Branstad in that election, repeatedly referring to him as a RINO (and worse), partly because his opponent, Bob Vander Plaats, was a personal friend of Deace’s, but mostly because Deace didn’t think Branstad was as ideologically pure as Vander Plaats, who was advocating for an unprecedented (and likely unconstitutional) executive order that Vander Plaats and Deace claimed would eliminate gay marriage in Iowa via executive fiat.

According to Deace back then, only candidates who measured up to a gold standard (i.e. Vander Plaats) were worthy of our votes.  Nothing less was good enough.

Now, apparently he’s willing to vote for a guy who sponsored a environment/population control bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have provided taxpayer funded abortions overseas and overturned the Mexico City Policy.

He’s now willing to vote for a guy who voiced support for Romneycare, which allowed for $50 elective abortions in Massachusetts.  And do you know how I know that Romneycare allowed for $50 elective abortions in Massachusetts?  I know that because Steve Deace mentioned it while bashing Romney 37,598 times on his radio show during the last caucus cycle.

He’s now willing to vote for a guy who, on several occasions, spoke out in favor of embryonic stem cell research and went into great detail to explain why he believed the practice passed ethical muster.  Newt has now apparently changed his opinion on this issue.  Of course, Romney now claims to have had a change of heart on abortion, too, but Deace didn’t find that convincing.  He must find thrice-married Newt much more trustworthy.

Deace is also now willing to vote for a guy who has a history of endorsing extremely pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage candidates.  Newt notoriously stuck his neck out to endorse Dede Scozzafava in a special election for New York’s 23rd Congressional District.  The move was controversial because most establishment Republicans in New York are infamously liberal, particularly on social issues, and in this case, there was a true alternative – a viable Conservative Party candidate named Doug Hoffman.  Before the general election, anticipating defeat, Scozzafava actually dropped out and endorsed her Democrat opponent over Hoffman.

This is particularly interesting given Deace’s persistent criticism of other current presidential candidates for their past endorsements of a few moderate republicans.  Once again, it seems Deace has a different, and much lower, standard for Newt.

In the past, Deace has always claimed that we must seek candidates of “conviction rather than position.”  In other words, vote for candidates who are consistent and who actually believe in their hearts the values they espouse on the political stump.

Deace has also been critical of political operatives who he believed made opportunistic decisions to support candidates, not because they truly believed in the candidate, but because they thought that candidate might give them a “seat at the table.”

One has to wonder whether his new job has made Deace forget all of his old advice.  For someone who has had such high standards and who says he “won’t get fooled again,” it seems an odd choice that he’d publically endorsed a candidate who has fooled a lot of people on an awful lot of issues in the past.

Photo by Dave Davidson –

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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