by Kyle Munson, Des Moines Register
BEIJING — The Iowan who has the ear of the leaders of two world superpowers stepped up to a lectern inside a crowded living room of his sumptuous new home — half a world away from where he had spent most of his 70 years.
On a late September evening, Terry Branstad, Iowa’s longest-serving governor and the United States’ newest ambassador to China, addressed an elite cocktail-party crowd of more than 100 Chinese dignitaries, expats and visiting Americans.
“Welcome to the governor’s … no,” he interrupted himself with a chuckle and shake of his head. “I kind of fell back into my old habits there.
“Welcome to the ambassador’s residence in Beijing, China.”
Branstad’s mild misstep was a reminder of the improbable path that took him from a marathon tenure as the folksy governor of a landlocked Midwestern state to his current and much more exotic job as America’s chief liaison to the most populous country on the planet.