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U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton spent his Wednesday afternoon at Jethro’s BBQ ‘n Bacon Bacon in West Des Moines. He didn’t come for the food: The Arkansas conservative came to help Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn launch his campaign’s veteran coalition, offering his support in the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne.
It’s not the senator’s first visit to Iowa this year. It’s his eighth since 2019. And while Cotton said his visits to Iowa are to help elect Republicans in November, Iowa Republicans are well aware of why political figures flock to their state.
“So we have Senator Cotton, Tom and his, wife, Anna, come out and join us because there’s a lot of people here in Iowa who like your leadership,” Nunn said. “And oh, I like to think that people come here and support Kelly and me, but it just so happens that Iowa’s 3rd (District) happens to be on the pathway to a certain house somewhere down the road.”
Less than two years out from the next Iowa caucuses, Republican politicians are coming to campaign in support of GOP candidates as they feel out a potential presidential candidacy.
But it’s still early for candidates to officially throw their hat into the ring. Cotton said he was in Iowa because it holds important races for Republicans’ goal to win back the House and Senate, like electing Nunn and re-electing U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“This is a very critical election,” Cotton told reporters. “So I’m gonna keep my eyes on the election ahead of us and we’ll decide about future elections in the future.”
Republicans take first steps in Iowa
Cotton isn’t the only one making up his mind on running. Last week, Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley made her way around Iowa, joining Republican U.S. House candidates on the campaign trail and speaking at a private fundraiser for Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, has not officially entered the presidential race, but told reporters at an event supporting U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra that she plans to defend America in whatever role she can.
“If it looks like there’s a place for me next year, I’ve never lost a race,” Haley said, according to the Des Moines Register. “I’m not going to start now. I’ll put 1,000% in and I’ll finish it. If there’s not a place for me, I will fight for this country until my last breath.”
Some Republicans who ran for the 2016 presidential nomination are also making their way back to Iowa. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have both made stops in the state after former President Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020. Cruz, who won the 2016 Iowa caucuses, came in August 2021 to support U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson’s campaign, and promised America’s “revival is coming.”
Rubio also visited in August 2021. He said he is focused on his own re-election in Florida for 2022, but spoke about maintaining friendships in Iowa.
Trump looms large
But the 2024 Republican caucuses may not be a free-for-all like the Democratic caucuses were in 2020. Trump lost to President Joe Biden in 2020, but still holds major sway over both the Republican party and GOP voters.
Trump brought in a huge crowd at his Des Moines rally in October 2021, where he endorsed Grassley and reiterated his claims that he won the 2020 election.
But the former president has not officially said whether he plans to run again. A Democratic super PAC filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission in March, alleging he violated campaign finance laws by spending his PAC money on events without declaring his intent to run again as a presidential candidate.
“I mean, I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws,” Trump told reporters in September, when asked about the next presidential campaign cycle.
Trump has a 53% approval rating in Iowa, according to an October 2021 Des Moines Register/Iowa Poll. But some Republicans say there’s enough room for other candidates to win the caucuses, should the former president run again.
Those other candidates may include Trump administration alumni. Besides Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited Iowa three times since the last presidential election, and talking about foreign policy and American security. In June, he launched ads in Iowa and South Carolina praising religious freedom wins in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is also visiting Iowa ahead of any 2024 announcements. His candidacy could draw ire of Trump supporters among the Republican base. But conservatives extended Pence a warm welcome in Carroll this April, where he spoke in support of re-electing Iowa Republicans and criticized Biden’s tenure as president.
Pence has faced backlash for his break with Trump on the validity of 2020 election results. But Pence still aligned himself with the former president on conservative victories from their tenure, like the many conservative appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. Pence said he hopes for more conservative wins in Iowa, and nationwide.
“The good news is, despite all the setbacks we’ve seen in the last year and a half, the Republican Party is fighting back all across America and all across Iowa,” Pence said.
The field is still open
While many Republicans have visited Iowa ahead of the November election, other conservative favorites have yet to stop in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Polling compiled by FiveThirtyEight shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis often comes in second behind Trump among voter rankings of potential candidates. DeSantis has yet to visit Iowa.
Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and presidential candidate, has also stayed away from Iowa ahead of the midterms despite speculation of another presidential run. U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley and Ben Sasse are in the same boat.
Conservative politicians who are not on the national radar may also decide to enter the race in the coming year.
Brad Whitmore, a veteran who attended the Zach Nunn campaign event, said he thinks Cotton would be a good candidate for president. But he added, “Well, I think (Iowa Sen.) Joni Ernst is a possible candidate, too. She’d make a good president.”
— Kathie Obradovich contributed to this report.
Reagan White House Solicitor General Charles Fried explained how Republicans are conducting a "slow-motion coup" during a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC.
"Our next guest was four years old when he fled Czechoslovakia with his family in 1939 to escape Nazi terror," MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell reported. "Twenty-two years later, he became a Harvard Law professor."
O'Donnell noted that now-Justice Samuel Alito worked for Fried and he testified at John Roberts confirmation that the nominee was "too smart a lawyer to overturn Roe vs. Wade."
O'Donnell noted a November op-ed Fried wrote for The New York Times titled, "I Once Urged the Supreme Court to Overturn Roe. I’ve Changed My Mind."
"To overturn Roe now would be an act of constitutional vandalism — not conservative, but reactionary," Fried wrote.
O'Donnell put an email on-screen that Fried sent to his producer.
"Unions, religion, second amendment, abortion, campaign finance, gerrymandering, regulation of elections. All this is an attempt in the last ten years or so to repeal the 20th century," he wrote. "The greatest threat next term: the 'independent legislature clause' case from North Carolina which would produce a slow-motion coup d'état."
Fried expanded on his analysis.
"What the court is going to have next term, they're gonna start in the fall on this issue and that is, when a state legislature picks electors, the state supreme court cannot do anything about it, because the constitution says that the regulation of electors is supposed to be done by the independent legislature," he explained. "Now, for decades, that has been understood to mean the whole legislative process in a state which includes, of course, the state supreme court."
He explained how such a U.S. Supreme Court ruling would make state gerrymandering of legislative districts even worse.
"North Carolina, which is the case involved, is a hideously gerrymandering," he explained. "The population is half registered Republican, half registered Democrat, but its 13-person congressional delegation is ten Republicans, three Democrats," he said. "And when the head of the legislative committee was asked, 'How did you do that? How come you did this?' 'Because we couldn't think of any way to get just two Democrats.' Now, this is what would be the coup d'état, because these gerrymandered state legislatures in all of the swing states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia — would then be able to send the electives -- the electors they choose, not the electors chosen by the people. and there is nothing that could be done about it."
In the over 50 years he has been at Harvard Law, he taught Criminal Law, Commercial Law, Roman Law, Torts, Contracts, Labor Law, Constitutional Law and Federal Courts, Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy.
Watch below or at this link.
Reagan White House Solicitor General Charles Fried www.youtube.com
Disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens fitness to own a gun has become an issue in the Missouri Senate battle to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 after damning allegations of sexual assault and campaign finance violations.
He's now seeking a comeback, but is in the middle of a bruising primary with Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long. Gun-brandisher Mark McClowsky is also running.
The winner is expected to face Democrat Lucas Kunce, a lawyer and Marine Corps Reserve officer who served as the International Negotiations Officer for the joint chiefs of staff.
In campaign finance reports through the end of March, Greitens reported total receipts of $1.9 million and $345,000 cash on hand. Kunce reported total receipts of $3.3 million and $942,000 cash on hand.
Kunce raised the issue of Greitens' fitness to own a firearm in a campaign ad.
"Terrorists, child abusers, and criminals like @EricGreitens shouldn't even be able to get a weapon. I'm the Marine veteran running against him," Kunce tweeted to introduce the ad. "Send me to the U.S. Senate, and I'll keep our families safe from criminals like him."
In the ad, Kunce addresses the camera while displaying a picture of a Rolling Stone article with Greitens holding a shotgun titled, "GOP Senate Candidate Fantasizes About Murdering Political Opponents in New Ad."
He played a clip of Greitens' controversial ad.
"Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO [Republican In Name Only] hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country," Greitens said.
The ad then switched from video of Greitens with a shotgun to Kunce holding an AR-15.
"Now he thinks that teenagers, criminals, and terrorists should be able to get their hands on a weapon like this," he said, holding up the rifle as a tweet from Greitens appears on-screen.
\u201cIf a politician says you don't need a gun, you need a gun.\u201d— Eric Greitens (@Eric Greitens) 1654219060
"Well, assault, blackmail, and stealing from a veterans charity," Kunce says. "For any everyday Missourian, the question wouldn't be what type of gun he's going to buy, the question would be how long he's going to be in prison."
"Eric Greitens got a free pass because he was a politician with power. Send me to the U.S. Senate and I'll end that double standard," he said. "Lock. Him. Up."
\u201cTerrorists, child abusers, and criminals like @EricGreitens shouldn't even be able to get a weapon. I'm the Marine veteran running against him. \n\nSend me to the U.S. Senate, and I'll keep our families safe from criminals like him.\u201d— Lucas Kunce (@Lucas Kunce) 1657157467