DES MOINES-You can’t spell Jacobs without Jobs. That was one of the key taglines in Mark Jacobs’ 20-minute speech that officially launched his U.S. Senate campaign. The former CEO of Reliant Energy made it clear to the crowd of 100 supporters and onlookers that jobs for Iowans will be his number one priority as a U.S. Senator.
“Our leaders in Washington are incapable of solving problems,” Jacobs said. “The true choice we face is either electing another politician and expecting different results, or choosing someone with a business perspective who can build coalitions and enshrine our conservative principles into law.”
Speaking at Infomax Office Systems, a company his father started 55 years ago and his brother runs today, Jacobs drew an audience that consisted largely of local business people. Mark Jacobs believes his impressive resume and skills would suit is Iowans well in Congress.
Although he has lived outside Iowa for many years, Jacobs played up his Des Moines roots during the speech. He said many Iowans have asked why someone with his experience would want to enter the dysfunctional “snake pit” in Washington, D.C.
“It would be easy for me to throw up my hands and leave these great problems for others to solve but the Iowa values that brought me success in the business world now compel me to enter the political world. I will not stand idly by while the American dream becomes obsolete for American families. Washington needs an infusion of commonsense,” Jacobs said.
Reading his prepared speech, Mark Jacobs seemed very comfortable behind the podium. He showed the ability to deliver good applause lines and inject humor at proper times.
Jacobs has had plenty of practice in public speaking over the past several months. He travelled the state earlier this year, pushing his ideas for education reform while speaking at Rotary luncheons and Lions Club meetings.
However, there was one faux pas during his campaign announcement speech. The line sounded bad, if taken out of context.
“For all of the fiscal and economic challenges we face, if we were able to grow our government just one percent faster over the next decade, we could wipe out over half of our annual budget deficits,” Jacobs said.
He meant to say, “grow our economy”, not “our government”. Jacobs’ campaign clarified that after the event and it was obvious he did not mean to say “government”, because 20 seconds earlier, he spoke about how adding more government programs is not the solution to America’s widening income disparity.
Jacobs’ stances on education reform have raised the eyebrows of some conservatives. He sought to shove that issue to the wayside.
“K-12 education is a state and local issue and we don’t need Washington calling the shots when it comes to our curriculum,” he said.
However, Jacobs said closing the skill gap through community college and vocational programs is one of his priorities to fuel economic growth and create jobs. Expanding energy production, tackling costly regulations, tax reform and reforming healthcare are the other key components of Jacobs’ platform.
“We all agree everyone should have access to affordable health insurance, including those with pre-existing conditions, but the plan we were sold doesn’t work,” Jacobs said. “The big problem I see in the healthcare industry is the ever escalation of costs. It’s squeezing American families. It’s increasing our annual budget deficits, and the truth is that Obamacare does nothing to solve that issue. What we should be doing is attacking costs at the provider level.”
Overall, it was a solid entry into the race for Mark Jacobs. A good-sized crowd, a well-received speech and some details added onto the red meat. Jacobs went beyond speaking in platitudes and offered what he believes are real world solutions for many of the problems Iowans face.
However, some of the other Republican candidates in the crowded field, particularly Joni Ernst’s campaign, are already trying to label him as a carpetbagger who moved back to Iowa last year simply to run for the U.S. Senate. Jacobs shrugged off those criticisms when speaking to reporters afterwards.
“I’m not going to comment on what other campaigns are doing,” Jacobs said. “Our message is about growth and opportunity. It’s a very positive message and one that I think, as I travel across Iowa, people are yearning to hear a positive message and people are sick and tired of the dysfunction we have in Washington, D.C. They want people who can go to Washington and solve problems and that’s what our focus is going to be on.”
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