News Center

January 24th, 2015

Live Blog: Iowa Freedom Summit

Good morning and welcome to’s live blog of the Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by Congressman Steve King and Citizens United. We are at Hoyt Sherman Theatre in Des Moines.

Last night, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann called this event the “kickoff” to the 2016 Iowa Caucus season. There are several potential presidential candidates on hand today, as well as Iowa’s top Republican elected officials and more. Each speaker is allotted 20 minutes to speak.

The event is beyond sold out. There was a waiting list of more than 800 people two weeks ago. Tickets to the event are free and they were snatched up quickly.

Follow along throughout the day as I fill you in on all the happenings here. There are a ton of speeches. I am not going to transcribe them all but I will provide a running commentary. Feel free to join the discussion below in the comments section.

The morning session includes all the Iowa officials, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Scott Walker, among others.

This afternoon, likely presidential candidates we will hear from include Rick Santorum, John Bolton, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Sarah Palin (who is now saying she’s considering a 2016 bid), Rick Perry, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee. The 2008 Iowa Caucus winner is the final speaker of the day, according to the program.

Don’t forget to his ‘REFRESH’ often to stay up-to-date on what’s going on here. It should be a fascinating day. Let’s hope the wi-fi holds up, as well. I’m not optimistic on that one.

8:30 – There is a very, very long line outside of folks trying to get in. The doors are open, but this facility just does not have enough room to accommodate a large check-in process, or the horde of media on hand. We have commandeered a spot at the top of the theatre and this might actually work out well, but there’s not enough room for others.

8:38 – So I’m betting not everyone will be checked in by the time we kickoff at 9am. Lots of empty seats still.

8:40 – I think there’s a lot of pressure on folks like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee today. They’re former Iowa Caucus winners and really probably need to win the state to have any chance at the GOP nomination. They also need to do something to separate themselves in this huge field.

8:41 – I’m curious to see how the crowd reacts Chris Christie. He needs a good showing today.

8:44 – As I foretold, the wi fi is very spotty. I’ll use TIR’s wifi during the afternoon session. For now, we’ll just make due.

8:46 -TIR head honcho Craig Robinson has proclaimed that  we are Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. The grumpy old men hanging out in the theatre balcony.

9:05 – As I foretold,  the wifi is terrible.  We’re underway. Jan Mickelson providing opening comments. Crowd still filing in.

9: 10 Bubba Sorenson, the Freedom Rock painter, led the Pledge of Allegiance. The national anthem and prayer are done.

9:16 Congressman Steve King taking the stage now.

9:20 – King’s biggest applause line was when he suggested shutting down the IRS.

9:30 – Governor Branstad on the stage now. He mentions how the Democrats’ mantra of clearing the field for one candidate, like they’re doing for Queen Hillary, didn’t work for Bruce Braley, Staci Appel and Jack Hatch.

9:34 – We had to break out our own wifi, because the one here is abysmal. So, I’ll provide frequent updates throughout the day.

9:36 – Governor Branstad is done. Now up is RPI Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, or as Craig Robinson just coined, Luigi from Super Mario Brothers. Now that’s funny. Kaufmann would laugh too.
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9:37 – Here’s a shocker: Kaufmann is fired up. He’s praising Branstad and Grassley.

9:38 – Kaufmann: “Every single one of us is proud that there IS  a farmer on the Senate Judiciary Committee…” (huge applause). Senator Grassley onstage now.

9:39 “I’m Chuck Grassley, an Iowa farmer,” he opens with. The crowd cheers again.

9:40 There are a lot of empty seats up here in the balcony. That’s too bad. I know a lot of folks who wanted to come but could not get tickets.

9:41 Grassley: “We need a new attorney general.” He then called Eric Holder “William Holder”. Oh well. He’s leaving. It doesn’t matter what his name is.

9:42 Grassley talks about the importance of passing a balanced budget amendment out of the Senate.

9:43 Grassley: “A pen and a phone cannot replace our elected representatives in Congress.” You listening, Barack? Of course not. He doesn’t care.

9:50 Grassley is done now. Up next: Kim Reynolds.

9:58 – Not much stood out in Reynolds speech. Sam Clovis is now here to make the next introduction. Sam!

9:59 – Clovis says his dogs have stopped barking at him when he enters the house. Sam spent 16 months long months on the campaign trail, running for the U.S. Senate and state treasurer. Joni Ernst is a better senator, we are a better party and state because of those runs.

10:01 – Clovis says David Bossie of Citizens United is his mentor. Bossie addressing the audience now.

10:03 – Craig Robinson and Senator Grassley are wearing identical red sweater vests. Is it because Craig wants to be Grassley, or Grassley wants to be Craig?

10:04 – There are easily a couple hundred empty seats. Sad. So many people wanted to attend this. The waiting list was around 1,000. BTW, this venue, although beautiful, is a terrible place for an event like this. Terrible.

10:07 – Bossie: “Our federal government is becoming the nightmare that our Founding Fathers warned us about.”

10:11 – Craig thinks he just spotted Staci Appel here. Or, as Governor Branstad said recently, “Uh…what’s her name? I’ve already forgotten it.”

10:15 It wasn’t really Appel. Darn. Bossie is done now. Heritage Foundation leader and former U.S. Senate Jim Demint onstage now.

10:16 – Demint recites the Iowa state motto and calls it “great”. He’s right. “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”

10:19 They’re veering away from the schedule in the program. Grassley was originally scheduled to speak after Joni Ernst, who is further down the list, and a couple of New Hampshire reps were scheduled before Demint. Oh well. As long as they stay within the allotted time, I care not.

10:25 Demint is talking about school choice and getting the federal government out education. Segueing to energy development now.

10:26 There’s a two-year old girl making a bit ruckus up in the balcony. I love kids, but this really isn’t a good place for a two-year old. I understand the young lady’s restlessness too. She’s not the only one. It’s going to be a long day for the young one. And the rest of us.

10:28 There are 27 scheduled speakers, according to the program. So far, we’ve had six, plus introductions by Jeff Kaufmann and Sam Clovis. They weren’t listed in the program.

10:29 Demint: “Conservatives see a problem and say, ‘We need to change something.’ The Washington political establishment sees a problem and says, ‘ We need more money.'”

10:32 Demint is done now. Up next: New Hampshire State Rep. Bill O’Brien:


10:44 – New Hampshire Congressman Jeff Duncan up now:


10:46 – So, there’ s only one men’s room in the whole building, comprise of four urinals and only one stall. So there was a line to get in the men’s room. The women walking by loved it. Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson took a picture of the line. Donald Trump pulled the coup de grace, though. He walked by, saw the line of men waiting and with total sarcasm, said: “Nice men’s room.”

10:47 – Duncan’s speech was pretty good. Very well received. RPI Co-Chair Cody Hoefert up now to introduce Rod Blum.

10:50 – Blum’s opening line: “Cody is someone I always looked up to.” Score. (Cody Hoefert is seven-feet tall, for those of you in Lee County.)

10:53 – Blum tells a joke he says he learned from his mother. It involves a genie granting one wish. The wisher asked to live until Congress balances the budget. She’s going to be alive for a long, long, long time.

10:56 – Blum: “Candidates need to listen to the people…” who have to balance their own budgets and ask why the country can’t balance theirs.

10:57 – Blum: “Candidates need to listen to the people when they talk about government itself being reformed.”

10:58 – Blum: Big applause when Blum mentions “no one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is above the law!”

10:59 – Blum: “My message to these (presidential) candidates, it’s not complicated: Listen to We the People!”. The First District congressman is done now. Good speech. Congressman King about to introduce Joni Ernst.

11:01 – Congressman King jokes that he offered to write Joni’s State of the Union rebuttal. She declined. A standing ovation for Joni Ernst as she takes the stage.

11:03 – Ernst says she told someone backstage: “We have got to find a bigger venue.” No kidding. Lots of people applauded that. Again, Hoyt Sherman Place is a beautiful theatre. But it’s a terrible venue for an event like this.

11:04 – Ernst: “We had a great victory in 2014, but we can’t stop there….We need to keep pushing forward.”

11:05 – Ernst: “We spoke loud and clear here in Iowa that we want to see change and that change has been delivered.” Ernst is thanking Iowa conservatives for their support in the U.S. Senate race and credits them for allowing her the opportunity to give the SOTU rebuttal. “Because of you,” she said.

11:06 – Ernst says we should not raise taxes, like the president suggested, on our hard working Americans.

11:07 – Ernst: “Another thing that I spoke about Tuesday evening: Defending life. Defending innocent life. We as a society will be judged by how we take care of the most vulnerable in our society…”

11:08 – Ernst says we must address the threats by Al Qaeda and ISIS. “In order to solve a problem, you first have to identify that you have a problem. (applause). We have a problem and it’s spreading worldwide…We do have to have a comprehensive plan and I would be happy to work with the president on that plan.”

11:09 – Ernst says they were up until 12:30 Friday morning working on the Keystone Jobs bill. The 2015 U.S. Senate has already voted on more amendments than they did in all of 2014 under Harry Reid’s leadership, or lack thereof.

11:10 – Ernst: “We are legislators. The president is not. We need to stop our executive overreach and that includes executive amnesty.”

11:11 Make a wish.

11:12 Ernst’s speech is receiving tons of applause.

11:13 BTW, Democrat National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was across the street spreading her propaganda before the event. She is such a joke. I’m surprised they still let her out after that butt kicking Republicans laid on Dems three months ago.


11:15 Joni Ernst is done. Finally, we get a president candidate: Dr. Ben Carson is next.

11:20 – A standing ovation for Carson.

11:21 – Carson: “I always feel welcome when I come here to Iowa because there’s so many people here with common sense. That is not ubiquitous in everywhere I go … “

11:22 – Carson says he wants to talk about education. He’s giving his background as  “terrible student” when growing up.

11:24 – The crowd is enjoying Carson’s tales. He usually gets some laughs when recounting his childhood education stories.

11:25 – Carson: “The person who has the most to do with how well you do in life, is you.” Yep.

11:26 – Carson is working the stage as he talks. That’s how he usually delivers speeches. Ted Cruz does the same. Everyone else, so far, has remained behind the podium.

11:27 – Carson: “There should be only one special interest group: the people of the United States of America.”

11:28 – Carson’s speech is very well received so far. Lots of applause.

11:29 – He’s now pivoting to immigration. “We already have laws to deal with how people become a United States citizen. We don’t have to relitigate that. If we do relitigate it, it has to come from Congress, now the president, not the Supreme Court.”

11:30 – Carson: “If you employ a person who is illegal” you should be charged with a crime.

11:30 – Carson says whoever wins in 2016, “I think it’s going to be a Republican, they should make it their goal to seal that border within a year.”

11:31 – Carson: “You shouldn’t get an advantage for breaking the law.” (applause)

11:32 – People talking downstairs in the hallway are talking so loudly it’s hard to hear everything Dr. Carson is saying. Yet another reason why this is a terrible venue for this event.

11:33 – Carson: “We do not need the government controlling our healthcare (big applause). That’s why I’ve been such a vehement opponent of Obamacare.” Adds that the government shouldn’t have control of the most important thing you have, your health.

11:35 – Carson: “A big part of the problem right now is the government is just too big, they’re wasteful and they just don’t care what they do with our money.”

11:37 Carson mentions the $18 trillion and rising national debit is “ridiculous”. “This monster of the national debt is threatening the quality of life of those behind us…”

11:38 Big applause when Carson mentions the federal government has no business owning all this land and it should be opened up for energy resources.

11:39 Carson: “No one should never be surprised that I’m pro-life because if I spent so much time trying to save people’s lives, why would I be fore obliterating lives?”

11:40 – Carson: “We cannot allow the progressives to shut us up (applause). And if they want to act like little third graders and call us names, let ’em.”

11:41 – HUGE ovation for Dr. Carson as he wraps up.

11:43 – Congressman King introduces Donald Trump. “I’m here because I have great respect for Steve King,” Trump says. He got a big ovation when he came out.

11:44 – Trump: “Our president is really heading in the wrong direction with a president who is absolutely doing a terrible job.”

11:45 – Trump: “Politicians are all talk and no action…I’m a conservative, actually very conservative, and I’m a Republican. And I’m very disappointed by our Republican politicians because they left the president get away with absolute murder….” I assume he means that figuratively.

11:46 – Trump: “Everything about Obamacare was a lie. It was a filthy lie…” (applause)

11:47 – Trump: “It’s a real, real disaster and somebody has to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

11:48 – Trump: “We have to build a fence….Somebody’s got to do it. And who can build better than Trump?” Funny line from the real estate mogul.

11:48 – Trump: “If I run and if I win I would certainly start by building a very, very powerful fence.”

11:50 – Trump is really ripping into Republicans for not doing something about Benghazi, the IRS, Obama’s executive orders.

11:51 – Trump: “We spent $2 trillion in Iraq. We got nothing…They don’t even respect us, until they started getting their ass kicked…We have $2 trillion and thousands of lives lost…”

11:53 – Trump says he doesn’t want to get rid of Social Security. “I’m not a cutter.” He wants to improve the country and the economy so we can afford Social Security. He says Democrats are “eating Republicans’ lunch” on this issue. I disagree. They try, but they used that line of attack incessantly in 2014 and how did that work for them?

11:56 – Trump: “Leadership of other places never respect stupid people…” He’s talking about foreign leaders not respecting us.

11:59 – Trump is approaching the 20-minute deadline.

12:00 – Trump: “We have a very important election coming up…. It can’t be Mitt. He ran and failed…. He choked. Something happened to him in the last month…. I think this election is tougher to win than beating a failed president…. You can’t have Bush. The last thing we need is another Bush (big applause for the Romney and Bush lines).

12:02 – Trump ripping Jeb Bush on Common Core and being “very, very weak” on immigration.

12:04 – Trump is going past his allotted time.

12:05 – Trump is saying if he ran he would secure the border, destroy ISIS, balance the budget, securing Social Security and Medicare, repeal Obamacare and replacing it… lots of promises in there, especially from a guy who isn’t going to run, IMO.

12:07 – “I am seriously thinking of running for president,” Trump says. Big ovation for that.

12:08 – Up next is Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She’s from Nashville and definitely sounds like it.

12:20 – Blackburn rips the three major networks,  saying ABC “All about Clinton”, NBC: Nuthin’ but Clinton, CBS is “Clinton bull s__.”

12:24 – Wisconsin Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker is next. This should be interesting. Walker has not spent much time in Iowa since he was elected governor…

12:27 – Big standing ovation for Scott Walker as he takes the stage…

12:28 – Walker: Says he appreciates “fellow Harley rider” Joni Ernst. “Not only can she castrate a hog, she can ride a Hog as well…”

12:29 – Walker thanks Iowans who helped in his elections, including the recall.

12:30 – Walker: “At one point there were 100,000 or more protestors inside our State Capitol….in some ways I have to apologize because the Occupy movement started in Madison…then went to Wall Street…” Says there were thousands of protestors outside his family home, harassing his kids and parents and had death threats directed at them.

12:31 – Walker: “Someone literally sent me a threat that said they were going to gut my wife like a deer…” Another said he’d be the first Wisconsin governor who would be assassinated, and pointed out he knew exactly where Walker’s kids went to school…

12:32 – Walker: “All they did was remind how important it was to stand up for the people of my stage…They reminded me of why I ran for governor in the first place…”

12:33 – Walker says his state faced a $6.3 billion budget deficit. “Today, I’m proud to tell you, more than four years after…my sons are growing up in a state that’s even better than the state I grew up in … “

12:34 – Walker notes that he’s won elections for governor three times in the past four years, even though his state votes for Democrat presidents.

12:35 – Walker is going over his achievements and history of fighting and winning. This is a good speech from a guy who is not known as a great speaker. He’s connecting.

12:36 – Walker: “Since I was elected governor, we cut taxes…reduced spending, cut the budget, we took the power from the big government interests and put it in the hands of the hard working taxpayers…. And you know what, the liberals don’t much like that.” (BIG applause)

12:38 – Walker says his repeated reelection show common sense, conservative reforms work and if they can work in a blue state like Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in the country. Good point.

12:39 – Walker says in Wisconsin schools there’s no more tenure, you can hire and fire whoever you want. REALLY BIG APPLAUSE. “As conservatives, we should not take a back seat when it comes to education because we care about the quality o the education, not the size of the education bureaucracy….”

12:40 – Walker: “Since I’ve been governor, we’ve passed pro-life legislation and we defunded Planned Parenthood.” (more big applause)

12:41 – Walker talks about passing Concealed Carry and the Castle Doctrine so citizens can protect themselves, “and we require by law a photo ID to vote…” (big applause). “And we said, ‘No’ to Obamacare.'” (more applause)

12:43 – Walker is telling a funny story about shopping at Kohls and how he made a huge mistake years ago by paying full price for something he bought at Kohls. He relates all the discounts you get at Kohls to how he thinks about taxpayer money.

12:45 – Walker: “Looking ahead as Republicans, we need to make the case that we’re going to promote policies…that are going to make America great again.”

12:46 – Walker said he never heard a classmate tell him, “Someday, when I grow up, I want to become dependent on the government.”… “In America, the opportunity is equal for each and every one of us, but in America…it’s up to us…”

12:48 – He’s now passed the allotted 20 minutes, but the crowd is eating up this speech.

12:49 – Walker says we need leaders who will stand against radical Islamic terrorism and call it what it is.

12:50 – Walker just raised his chances in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Wow. A fantastic speech and he has the record to back it up. BIG STANDING OVATION.

12:51 – And now….LUNCH. Much more in about an hour…

1:02 – Ok, apparently it won’t be much of a lunch break. Attendees are eating bagged lunches in their seats and the speeches are continuing during the speeches. Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who does polling for Congressman King and others, is speaking now. I’m going to continue eating lunch.

1:16 – Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is up next:


1:28 – Once again, a line to get into the one men’s room. And the trash cans are totally overloaded with paper towels. Terrible venue for this event.

1:29 – Gilmore is still speaking.

1:38 – Gilmore is done. Newt is in the house.

1:42 – Gingrich: “I am delighted to have a farmer as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Also praises Steve King and Joni Ernst.

1:44 – Gingrich: “Almost 14 years after 9/11, the United States is losing the war with radical Islamists.”

1:47 – Gingrich compares the Obama administration’s approach to defeating radical Islam to the U.S. not seeing the rise of the KGB and Soviet Union in the late 40s.

1:49 – Newt just scored one of the biggest applause lines of the day when talking about dealing with radical Islamists. “If you have a desire to kill me if I don’t convert to Sharia, I have a desire to kill you before you cut off my head.”

1?55 – Gingrich is focusing exclusively on foreign policy. I love listening to this guy. So smart.

2:00 – Gingrich: “We the People have to demand to know the truth, and We the People have to defend our country…”

2:01 – Gingrich tells Iowans to demand to know from every candidate that comes through the state what they intend to do to defeat radical Islam. Gingrich is wrapping up now. Good speech.

2:03 – John Bolton coming up next…

2:05 – Bolton says he wants to talk about national security. Shocking.

2:06 – Bolton rips Obama, then adds, “His former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no more up to the job than he is.”

2:10 – Bolton mentioned what he liked most about Joni Ernst’s famous “Squeal” ad it said “Mother, Soldier, Conservative.”

2:12 – Bolton talks about the role national security played in helping Republicans win last November.

2:13 – Bolton says Obama failed as his most important job, protecting the sovereignty of the nation.

2:15 – Bolton: “Obama gets an ‘F’ for utter lack of attention (to national security)… “He won’t call Islamic terrorism what it is.”

2:18 – Bolton rips Obama again, this time for refusing to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu. “What does that tell our enemies?”

2:19 – Bolton says we have intelligence that the Russians have weaponized Ebola.

2:21 – Bolton: “Never forget that the left in this country, dissatisfied with the results they get in America, takes issues globally…”, like gun control, etc.

2:22 – Bolton: “Reject any candidate the treats national security policy in a dismissive or off-hand way,” he implores Iowans.

2:23 – Yet another speaker is pushing the 20-minute time limit.

2:25 – Bolton: “We are in far more danger today than we were a few years ago… The security of America does not depend on the people who are speaking here today. It depends on you…If we don’t take it seriously, no one else will.” Bolton wrapping up. Interesting stuff. This isn’t the kind of speech that is going to win over a large swath of Iowa Caucus voters, but it’s a speech conservatives should appreciate and take heed of.

2:27 – Utah Senator Mike Lee is up next…

2:29 – Lee receives a partial standing o. Opens with, “My name is Mike Lee. I’m from Utah and I’m not running for president.” He says this is the time in the program for the media and pundits to go grab a sandwich since he’s the only one on the stage who will probably say he’s not running. Says his speech is for the attendees.

2:32 – Lee says the job of the next president is restoring to the people a limited government of, by and for the people.

2:33 – The Huckabee fan couple with the one or two-year old daughter is still making her suffer through this marathon event and she’s rightfully fussing about it. Come on people. Take her to Monkey Joes or something. Or the park. It’s nice enough. 47 degrees in late January? Tropical.

2:35 – Lee says “if we don’t choose a positive, proven and principled conservative” as our presidential nominee, the GOP is going to lose in 2016 in the popular vote, as we have in five of the last six presidential elections.

2:37 – Lee: “What I’m looking for in a president…a competent, thoughtful conservative that I can trust to get the job done…Before he or she is elected, a successful president must build a united, successful party…”

2:45 – Lee says to avoid a candidate whose stump speeches only criticizes other candidates.

2:49 – And Mike Lee is yet another candidate who fills his full 20 minutes, and them some. His whole speech was on what kind of presidential candidate we should nominate.

2:50 – Lee went 21 minutes, so not too far over, but far enough, especially for someone who isn’t considering a run for president.

2:51 – 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum is up next…

2:54 – Good ovation for Santorum. He mentions the infamous sweater vest, but he’s not wearing one.

2:55 – Santorum: “It’s a question I’ve been asked over and over and over again. I’m going to end the suspense and I’m going to announce…..that Bella is doing great!” Nice tease. Big applause for Bella. Santorum has a new book coming out on Bella and her battle with the Trisomy 18 disease.

2:56 – Santorum says he and his wife Karen co-wrote the book. “We divided the book evenly. She has 11 chapters. I have seven.” (laughter)

2:57 – Santorum talks about his immigrant grandfather.

2:58 – Santorum harkens back to 2011 when he visited “several dozen Pizza Ranches”.

2:59 – Santorum says he could spend the rest of this speech detailing Obama’s failures. “But what does that get us? How many people will be convinced they should vote for us simply by criticizing the president? … That’s the left’s game… That’s their schtick.”

3:00 – “Santorum talks about the divides the left has created in the country: “Black vs. white, poor vs. rich, anglo vs. Hispanic…. Americans feel the divide. And they’re sick of it!” (applause)

3:01 – Santorum: “I know from my own experience that pointing a finger and condemning somebody doesn’t win you a whole lot of arguments…” He says we need somebody who can unite us. “We have been and we must be the party of growth and opportunity…”

3:02 – Santorum: “We need to be on the side of the American worker…” (applause)

3:03 – Santorum – “We have to be the party that says, ‘We understand what you’re feeling, we understand what you’re thinking… and finds a way to not only help with the economy, but to help you…”

3:06 – Santorum: “We need less Common Core and more commonsense.” (big applause). Quick, somebody get Shane Vander Hart some tissue.

3:09 – Santorum: “We need to be the party of the worker. Why? Well, it’s good politics… We don’t win because too many people don’t think we care about them. We’ve got to show them that we do…”

3:10 – Santorum says all of the net new jobs in this country were filled by non-Americans. “There are fewer workers today than there were in 2000…”

3:11 – Santorum: “We need to stand for an immigration policy that puts Americans first, and American workers first.”

3:12 – Santorum says all this is coming from an immigrant. “I’m for legal immigration…. Steve (King) is right. We need to step forward with an immigration policy but we need to do so in a context of standing strong with American workers.”

3:14 – He’s talking about foreign policy now and that we need to elect someone with experience, unlike Obama who was still in his first term in the U.S. Senate.

3:15 – Santorum says he wanted to put sanctions on Syria, but President Bush initially fought him. Eventually, Bush saw Santorum was right and signed the bill. Same with Iran. “Leadership matters. Understanding the threat…”

3:17 – Santorum: “If we’re going to confront the evil of radical Islam, then we have to name it what it is.” (applause)

3:18 – Santorum is way over the 20-minute time limit. Pushing 25 minutes.

3:19 – Santorum: “I don’t envy your charge. You had a tough time the last time around. You made a very good decision, by the way… “(laughter and applause).

3:20 Santorum wraps up talking about the 99-county tour and offers to share his travel log if any of the other candidates want to do it. Adds that it’s worth the time and lack of sleep.

3:21 – Ted Cruz is next. The crowd erupts into cheers when David Bossie just mentions his name…

3:24 – HUGE ovation for Ted Cruz. Iowa conservatives love him…

3:25 – Cruz: “Steve (King) and I spent all week in Washington, D.C. So it is great to be back in America.” Funny.

3:26 – I love how all the candidates are getting cheap pops from the crowd by name dropping Joni Ernst.

3:27 – Cruz mentions it’s the 50th anniversary of the passing of Winston Churchill, and today, like Churchill did, we are facing a creeping darkness.

3:28 – Cruz mentions he brought his wife Heidi with him. I think this is the first time she has joined him on an Iowa trip.

3:28 – Cruz: “I want to talk today about reigniting the miracle of America…. Our rights don’t come from government. They come from God.”

3:29 – Cruz: “There’s been no other country in the history of the world that has allowed so many millions with nothing to come and realize their dreams…”

3:30 – Cruz: “We will back down to no face of tyranny.”

3:31 – Cruz says we need to champion jobs, growth and opportunity, get the senseless obstacles from Washington out of the way…”and sending the locusts of the EPA back to Washington”. (big applause)

3:32 – Cruz: “The most important regulatory reform we can do is repeal every word of Obamacare. (huge applause).  And we need tax reform. The most important tax reform we can do is abolish the IRS..” (more applause)

3:33 – Cruz: “If you litigate against nuns, as the Obama administration is, you’ve probably done something wrong.”

3:35 – Cruz talks about the city of Houston trying to subpoena preachers’ sermons last year and the pushback they received from preachers around the area and conservatives around the country.

3:37 – Cruz rips Obama for skipping the march in Paris and says you’re unable to win the war on terror if you’re unable to say the worlds “radical Islam”.

3:38 – Cruz says he agrees wit Steve King’s bill: When an American terrorist takes up arms with ISIS, he forfeits his American citizenship. (huge applause). Someone tell Staci Appel she should watch Cruz’ speech.

3:41 – Cruz challenges those who talk about standing up for marriage, against the establishing, opposing Common Core.. “Show me!”, over and over. Someone tell him we’re not in Missouri. Getting big applause, though.

3:45 – And…we’re over the 20-minute time limit. Again.

3:48 – I’m in desperate need of caffeine… And there’s still five more of these. Fiorina, Palin, Perry, Christie and Huckabee. Cruz is done. Big ovation. Well received speech. 24 minutes.

3:50 – Carly Fiorina is next…

3:54 – Fiorina: “Only in the United States of America that a young woman can start as a secretary and become the chief executive officer of one of the most powerful countries in the world.”

3:55 – Fiorina name drops Ernst. Drink.

3:56 – Fiorina calls out pro-abortion group Emily’s List for calling Joni Ernst “window dressing”. She says the War on Women is coming from the left.

3:57 – Fiorina was given a tough draw, speaking right after Ted Cruz. Most attendees have never heard her speak before. They’ve heard Cruz, and love him.

3:58 – Fiorina says liberals call Republicans the party of Big Business but they’re the ones who introduce the regulations that crush small businesses. “Small business is being crushed because only Big Business can handle Big Government.”

3:59 – Fiorina; “It is on the issue of life that the hypocrisy of liberals are its most breathtaking. Liberals believe that the life of flies are worth protecting, but the lives of babies are not.” She adds that the Dems’ platform supports abortion at any point in the pregnancy and says Senator Boxer once said a life is only a life when it leaves the hospital. Wow.

4:02 – Fiorina: “The quality of life is measured in grace and moments of life… Every life has potential.” (applause).

4:03 – Fiorina: “We know what separates liberals from conservatives… Liberals actually think that some are better than others..smarter than others… We know that work brings dignity and family brings trust and faith brings meaning to our lives. We know it.”

4:04 – Fiorina says government has grown year after year under both Democrats and Republicans. She rips the Veterans Administration and government for not taking care of its veterans.

4:06 – Fiorina is ripping GOP for failing to bring their late term abortion ban to the House floor for a vote. “Expediency has triumphed over courage. (applause). This is not leadership from the House.”

4:08 – Fiorina rails against lifetime politicians and the system. “The bureaucratic monster….now works against the interest of the people.” (applause)

4:10 – Fiorina says our government was intended to be a “citizen government” and our Founders never envisioned professional politicians.

4:11 – Fiorina: “Like Hillary Clinton, I too have travelled hundreds of thousands of miles around the world. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something.” (HUGE applause). Ouch. Major burn there. “Flying isn’t an accomplishment. It’s an activity.” Fiorina says she has met Vladimir Putin and B.B. Netanyahu.

4:12 – Fiorina is getting major love here at the end for railing against Hillary and Obama on their foreign policy failures, including Benghazi.

4:13 – Fiorina: “I am a conservative because after a lifetime of experience in all kinds of environments that our principles work better.”

4:15 And another candidate surpasses the time limit. But she’s wrapping up, so maybe just one minute over. Fiorina is getting big applause. She definitely helped herself here, especially the end by blasting Hillary. The crowd ate that up. Good speech.

4:17 Here comes Sarah Palin…

4:28 – Palin says she’s glad to be in Iowa among friends who get America…

4:29 – Palin is talking now about the infamous pictures of her son with special needs, Trig, standing on his service dog while trying to reach the sink.

4:30 – Palin rips PETA for claiming she was committing animal cruelty…. Then drops a funny line about what Joni Ernst does to those great tasting pigs… And then about Obama eating dog while in Indonesia.

4:31 – I think every speaker might’ve name-dropped Joni Ernst today.

4:32 – Palin: “When people fear the government, there’s tyranny, but when government fears the people, there’s freedom.”

4:33 – Palin is talking about the Iowa Caucuses now and our state’s importance in the process.

4:34 – Palin says the “Ready for Hillary” effort is a D.C.-based, astroturf effort disguised as grassroots. Says “America is just not that into you.”

4:35 – Palin: “When will listen to ‘We the People’?

4:36 – Palin: “The press asks, ‘Can anyone stop Hillary?’… Hey, Iowa, can anyone stop Hillary? (crowd says yes).

4:37 – Palin: “To paraphrase the Great Communicator, now is the time for bold, conservative colors, not establishment pastels.” (big cheers)

4:39 – Palin: “Knowing what the media will do to all of us in 2016, it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary.” (applause). Palin says we need to go on offense.

4:40 – OK, I like Sarah Palin, but I’m not a fan of this speech. It’s all over the place and the delivery is not that great. And she has now gone past her 20-minutes as well…

4:45 – Palin compares Obama’s executive overreach to an overgrown little boy acting out.

4:46 – She is now way, way over her allotted time. Somebody get the hook…. Or the gong…

4:51 – Seriously. Wrap it up…

4:52 – This “20-minute” speech is now over a half-hour.

4;55 – She’s finally done. And people are standing and applauding. Some people liked it. I didn’t. Way, way, way too long.

4:56 – Some folks are headed for the exits. This was originally slated to end at 5pm. They ran long almost all day, but Palin overdid it to the extreme.

4:57 – Thankfully, Rick Perry usually offers short speeches. He’s next…

4:59 – And of course, we get an extended introduction. Dude, we know who Rick Perry is.

5:00 – Perry name-drops Joni Ernst. Drink.

5:01 – He praises Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds and Congressman Rod Blum, and “Brother” Steve King. Is Perry channeling Hulk Hogan now? He called me “brother” once too.

5:03 Perry: “I might surprise a few of you here today, but I’ve been thinking a little about 2016.” .. Says Americans are sick are divisive politics, Americans want solutions, not soundbites. It’s not good enough for conservatives just to be the opposition.

5:04 Perry: “We can begin by unleashing the American arsenal of energy.” Step one: Keystone Pipeline.

5:05 Perry: “We need to stop strangling small business with overregulation…” Says the EPA is slowing our economic recovery. “Small business has to be that engine” that drives economic growth. “No nation has ever taxed and spent its way to prosperity.”

5:07 – Perry: “in the last 14 years, Texas has created 1/3 of all the new jobs in America.” Impressive. “At the same time, the rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs.”

5:11 – Perry: “If Washington refuses to secure the border, Texas will.” Ok, I’ve heard Perry use that line before. He used it months ago. Now he’s no longer governor.

5:12 – Protestors are trying to shout down Perry. The crowd is now drowning them out. And of course the media is scampering to shoot the protestors.

5:14 – The protestors are getting thrown out. Idiots.

5:15 – What these clowns don’t realize is that they just helped Rick Perry.

5:16 – Perry just keeps going and isn’t letting the disruption bother him. He’s talking about foreign policy now and says the Obama administration needs to stop leading from behind.

5:17 – Perry: “I am proud to American. I am proud to be a citizen of a country that stands for freedom and defends freedom around the world…I’m proud to have worn the uniform of the United States Air Force …” (big applause) “…I’m proud of the young men and women who travel to the farthest reaches of the world to fight for what’s right…”

5:18 – Perry: “There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with new leadership.”

5:19 – Perry’s done now. Fiery speech. He’s getting a standing ovation from most folks and big cheers as he leaves the stage. Just two more speeches to go… I jumped the gun, thinking there was just one more…

5:20 – Chris Christie is next…

5:22 – Congressman King is trying to help out Gov. Christie, noting that he vetoed a gay marriage bill and “he is pro-life, as are all of our speakers here today…”

5:23 – Decent applause for Christie. This will be a big test for him if he can woo a conservative crowd that’s been through a LONG day…

5:24 – Christie calls King a good man and a great friend.

5:25 – And we’ve got another idiot protestor. Christie responds, “Maybe you don’t know, I’m from New Jersey.” Crowd erupts in cheers. Protestor is getting tossed out.

5:26 – Christie notes he’s been invited here by Gov. Branstad, RPI, Republican legislators and five times by Steve King. He’s rejecting the notion that he may be “too loud” or too brash for Iowa.

5:27 – Christie: “I’m here today because I’m proof that conservative values work not only in Iowa, they work in New Jersey too…”

5:28 – Christie says the people of this country have been anxious, unhappy and uncertain about this country for too long.

5:29 – Christie: “The average American is living just about as well as he did before our friend Al Gore invented the internet… There’s the overwhelming feeling for the average American that it’s just too hard to get ahead…”

5:30 – Christie: “We want a government that works the way the civics books tell us it’s supposed to work… We are the only country in modern times that has one of its three founding principles “the pursuit of happiness…”

5:32 – Christie says the way to govern isn’t by pandering. You do it my telling people the truth. He says they told him it’d be impossible for a Republican governor to bring a Democrat legislature to the table to reduce spending, would never pass tenure reform… “But we surprised them all…”

5:33 – Christie says the political pundits told him there’s no way a pro-life Republican could get elected governor in New Jersey because it’d never been done before. “Being pro-life is never a political liability…I will never change…”

5:34 – Christie: “The notion that our party must abandon the issue of life to be competitive in blue states is simply not true and I am living proof.” (applause)

5:35 – Christie says truly being pro-life means being pro-life throughout the life… Says drug addicts lives are no less precious and they do deserve a second chance. “I will continue to fight that battle…”

5:36 – Christie: “For too long, Republicans have tried to squeeze out victories by running strong in red states… If our conservatism is truly going to succeed, we must run as conservatives in every state in this country…”

5:38 – Christie calls workers the core and backbone of every community and that Republicans need to appeal to them, while not demonizing the wealthy like Democrats do.

5:39 – Christie says we need place opportunity into the hopes and minds of Americans.

5:40 – Christie: “If you want a candidate you will agree with 100% of the time, go home and look in the mirror. You are the only person who agrees with you 100% of the time…If that’s the standard we hold our party, we will never win another national election…”

5:41 – Christie talks about his background. He wants the audience to know who he is and says we need a candidate who will always be honest about who he is… Says his mom always told him, “Chris, be yourself. You won’t have to worry tomorrow about who you were yesterday.”

5:44 – Christie: “It’s not only within our power to make this country great again, but it is our responsibility as Americans…”

5:46 – …and another speaker goes over his allotted time. Christie is pushing 23 minutes now.

5 :48 – Christie is wrapping up. Decent speech. He might have soothed a few conservative fears. Talking about his pro-life beliefs helped.

5:49 – We are down to our final speaker… 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee…

5:51 – Huckabee: “I’m so grateful you all stayed because I’ve heard me speak and I wouldn’t have stayed.” Good one.

5:52 – Huckabee says his 6 1/2 years at Fox News Channel was “the best”, working with some of the best people on Earth.

5:53 – Huckabee quoting Fox’s Roger Ailes: “We don’t pee inside our own tent.” But Ailes says it more comfortably.

5:54 – Huckabee says the point is, we don’t need to spend the next two years beating other conservatives up…

5:55 – Huckabee says seeing sausage and laws made are two things you never want to do. But says we need to make some sausage in this country. Figuratively, of course.

5:56 – Huckabee notes that all the constitutional offices and the legislature in Arkansas are now all Republicans. They were all Democrats, except him, when he was governor there.

5:57 – Huckabee mentions Obama’s State of the Union speech when he claimed climate change is the greatest threat to our country. “A beheading is more threatening to us than a sunburn.” (big applause)

5:58 – Huckabee: “The best to avoid a war is to make the enemy afraid to start one.” That’s a paraphrase of Sun Tzu, who he did not credit.

5:59 – Huckabee: “Islamic jihad, if we don’t call it what it is…it is evil.. They will bury you and your children and your grandchildren…”

6:00 – Huckabee: “Sometimes I think the biggest challenge we face economically is intelligence inequality…”, not income inequality as the left tells us.

6:04 – Huckabee is delivering a speech the crowd likes, but it’s not one that has them fired up the way Cruz and Walker did earlier. That’s just Huckabee’s style. He’s getting lots of applause though.

6:07 – Huckabee: “Education is not a federal function, it is a local function..Ultimately it ought to be the decision of mom and dad and not the government…”

6:10 – Huckabee says you can’t just create law with your phone and your pen, Mr. President. “You have to go to the legislature…and the courts job is to decide if it conforms to the Constitution. They are the Supreme Court, not the Supreme Being.”

6:12 – And…once again, we have a speaker going over their allotted 20 minutes. This event should have been over an hour and 12 minutes ago… There should have been a stern timer for this instead of me just whining about it.

6:13 – Huckabee: “We need to all remember that the real American heroes are the soldiers, sailors… the people that keep us free in the greatest land on God’s green Earth…”

6:14 – And Huckabee is done. So am I. A few people are chanting “more, more”. Unreal.

6:15 – I wlll see you tomorrow in Kevin’s Korner. Thanks for following along. Have a great night.

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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