Johnson County is the most liberal county in Iowa, but it remains an important one for Republicans. There are plenty of GOP votes to be had in the Iowa City/Coralville area. It is also home to the University of Iowa, making the area a prime spot to recruit volunteers for making phone calls, knocking on doors and assisting Republican campaigns in a myriad of ways.
That is part of the reason why the Coralville Victory office has been graced with the presence of some high profile Republicans over the past few months. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared there in July. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus visited in September. On Thursday, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner dropped by.
With less than three weeks before Election Day, Boehner was there fire up eastern Iowa Republicans and thank volunteers for their efforts. More than 150 Republicans packed into the Victory office to listen to Speaker Boehner.
“Elections aren’t won and lost on what the polls say. They’re won and lost based on who shows up to vote,” Boehner told the crowd. “And that means we’ve got to get our friends and our neighbors out.”
Speaker Boehner took the podium for only about five minutes, but had plenty to say during that short amount of time. He praised the debate efforts of Mitt Romney and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Boehner harkened back to his first campaign, when he received an assist from someone with a bright political future.
“I was out working hard and I had a 20 year old college student at Miami of Ohio out putting up yard signs for me. His name was Paul Ryan,” Boehner told the crowd. “I’ve known Paul Ryan for a long time. Great guy, great father, great husband and a real leader in the Congress. And I’ll tell you what, even though he was interrupted by that character from Delaware 80 or 90 times, Paul Ryan really did a nice job. He knows more about pro-growth economic policy than anybody in Washington.”
Boehner is travelling the country to help House candidates and the entire GOP ticket. He headlined a fundraiser for Iowa congressional hopeful Ben Lange Wednesday night. Speaker Boehner noted this was Day 26 of a 45 day trip that is taking him to every corner of the U.S. With President Obama visiting eastern Iowa earlier in the day, Boehner took the opportunity to criticize him for having “no vision” to improve the economy.
“When you look at what we need in Washington right now more than anything else, what we need is leadership. People who will stand up and lead and have the courage of their conviction to do what needs to be done in our country. Mitt Romney can get that done,” Boehner said to applause.
Boehner was introduced by congressional candidate John Archer, who is locked in a competitive race with two-term Democrat Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s Second District. Archer used several football analogies during his brief speech, working in a mention of the Iowa Hawkeyes double overtime victory over Michigan State last Saturday. Fittingly, Romney/Ryan signs adorned with the Hawkeye black and gold colors hung behind him.
“We have two minutes to go in this game,” Archer said. “And guess what, come November 6 we’re going to punch that ball across that goal line and we’re going to elect Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan the next president and vice-president of the United States.”
Archer and Boehner shared a similar theme: Making sure volunteers double their efforts in the final 19 days to ensure GOP victories at every level. “I hope you’re still working the phones over there,” Archer jokingly told the three dozen volunteers manning the phone bank. “Don’t let me interrupt you from doing very important work.”
Candidates like Archer, as well as Iowa House candidates Bobby Kaufmann and Steve Sherman, who were also in attendance, need Mitt Romney to do well on November 6. If he succeeds at the top of the ticket, it should provide a boost for their campaigns.
Johnson County is guaranteed to go Democrat by a large margin. Barack Obama beat John McCain there four years ago 70% to 28%. Things were a little closer in 2004, with John Kerry besting George W. Bush 64% to 35%. However, the 22,740 votes Bush pocketed in Johnson County helped him narrowly carry the state. If Mitt Romney can surpass 35% there this year, he stands a good chance to claiming Iowa’s six electoral votes.
On the congressional side, Republican Jim Leach actually won Johnson County in 2004. However, in 2008, Dave Loebsack defeated Mariannette Miller-Meeks 65%-30%. John Archer does not need to win Johnson County to defeat Loebsack. Garnering more than 40% of the vote would bode well for him.
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