It seemed more like an election night victory celebration than a campaign launch. It was unique, but perhaps it was appropriate as well. After all, for the Branstad-Reynolds team, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate. Terry Branstad made a triumphant return to Iowa politics four years ago, promising to return the state to prosperity. The governor believes he delivered on that promise.
“Four years ago, I saw the future of our state getting bleaker. I love this state. I was sick of the direction we were going. I knew we could do better and four years ago, I came back to lead the Iowa comeback. And we’ve done it,” Branstad said.
Complete with a raucous crowd, piped-in music and a throng of family members, Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds officially began their bid for another term in office. Joining Branstad and Reynolds on stage were their spouses, sons, daughters, 10 restless grandchildren and a handful of supporters.
The scene is what you would expect at the conclusion of a campaign, right after a victory is secured. There was even confetti dropping from the ceiling at the end of Branstad’s speech. However, the second longest serving governor in U.S. history is not ready to wrap up his political career just yet. Instead, Terry Branstad launched his sixth bid for Iowa’s highest office.
“Serving others has always been important to me and I want to make sure that I am always serving a cause bigger than myself. That’s what’s always driven me,” he told the audience.
State legislators, longtime supporters and energetic activists comprised the crowd of 250, plus two dozen media members, packed into a ballroom at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines. The mood was festive.
Some elements of the event were very similar to the way Branstad launched his campaign four years ago. Like then, longtime friend Jeff Kaufmann fired up the crowd with an admittedly bombastic speech. Like then, Iowa Republicans were counting on Branstad to lead the way in a vital mid-term election. Like then, Branstad’s Democrat opponent looks inferior compared to the longtime governor’s accomplishments.
“Together, we’ve restored stability and predictability in budgeting, we began to transform our education system, we set the goal of being the healthiest state in the nation, we brought $7.5 billion in capital investments to Iowa and we’ve created 130,000 new jobs,” Branstad said to applause from the crowd. “And last year I signed the biggest tax cut in Iowa history.”
Before Branstad took the stage, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds sang his praises and introduced a slickly-produced video that detailed those accomplishments, and many more:
It is easy to contrast Terry Branstad’s campaign launch with that of likely Democrat nominee Jack Hatch. The liberal state senator from Des Moines started his gubernatorial bid in a field full of overgrown weeds and countless piles of animal feces. Whatever message Hatch hoped to deliver was outshone by deer dung.
The media ridiculed Jack Hatch’s event because it seemed amateurish and ridiculous. Branstad’s campaign launch was polished and professional. Their campaign launches are indicative of the two opponents. Unlike Hatch, Terry Branstad delivered a message that was loud and clear: He is the leader Iowa needs.
“My commitment to job creation and opportunities for Iowa’s families drives me to say tonight that I intend to seek reelection as governor of this great state,” Branstad told the supportive and lively crowd seven minutes into his speech.
Those were the words attendees were waiting to hear. They erupted with cheers and a prolonged ovation.
Although the event seemed like a victory celebration, Terry Branstad knows better than to take an election lightly. There is a reason he is 18-0. He outworks his opponents. Always.
Thursday morning, Branstad and Reynolds embark on a three-day, 13-city tour to spread their message. The 2014 election season has begun and Terry Branstad hopes to lead the entire Iowa Republican team to victory in November.
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