CARLISLE-U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker continues his “farm listening tour” around the state. The campaign ventured to Warren County for the latest stop, held Thursday afternoon at the Carlisle Antique Tractor Museum. 10 local residents sipped on lemonade and snacked on cookies provided by the campaign as they held an informal chat with the senate candidate.
Although the event was designed for a discussion about agriculture -related issues, the conversation veered into a wide variety of topics, including education, infrastructure, the IRS and term limits. Illegal immigration was also on the minds of attendees.
“I’m not in Washington, D.C., I’m not from Washington, D.C., but I know what my fundamental principles are. That is, let’s bring the best and brightest from around the world and have them contribute to our economy. Let’s not give amnesty to those who come here illegally, but at the same time, let’s make it work. I mean, everybody wants to complain about it, but nobody ever wants to fix it,” Whitaker said.
That response was in line with what attendee Verle Spence wanted to hear.
“I like him and I like his ideas and I like the way he’s trying to proceed with things,” said Spence. “Especially the way he talked about immigration. I’ve felt that for a long time.”
Whitaker, an Ankeny native, admittedly is not well versed in ag-related issues. However, he provided some depth to his answers on topics like the estate tax and the farm bill. Whitaker also steered the dialogue toward his overarching campaign theme of wanting to trim a bloated federal government.
“The overregulation of all parts of our economy is cause for concern,” Whitaker said. “It seems to me that one of the foundations of our country is free enterprise and the good farmer, good small business owners, succeed. The ones that aren’t good don’t succeed. Inserting the federal government in an overregulation situation, like we have across so many different industries, is really not good for what America is founded on.”
The former U.S. attorney criticized the current holder of the office he is seeking, Tom Harkin, for spending most of his time away from Iowa. Whitaker promised he would remain an Iowan if elected and would not buy a house in Washington, D.C. Whitaker also voiced displeasure with career politicians and said he would place term limits on himself.
“I was kind of a supporter of Matt back in 2002 when he ran (for state treasurer), so I was real pleased so see he came out for this seat,” said Larry Hughes, a local real estate developer and longtime GOP donor. “I think he’d be a good, level headed guy that we need up there. We need a lot more of that kind of thought process up there.”
Hughes said it’s too early in the process to decide which candidate to vote for, especially since the field has not yet settled. However, Matt Whitaker will likely have Hughes’ support, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
The Whitaker campaign cancelled a stop planned for Thursday morning in Runnells because the host family was welcoming a new addition to the family. The Carlisle stop was the fifth event in the campaign’s farm listening tour.
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