I spent a delightful Friday evening with my friends Rob and Tracy Gettemy. There was a bright sun and as we traveled to the Washington County Conservation Center in a beautiful area surrounded by the lush Iowa countryside – an appropriate site for the beginning of the 2012 Presidential election campaign.
The event was a fundraiser for a good friend, Sandy Greiner. Sandy is a strong conservative woman who had a very successful legislative career in Iowa and retired from such to spend more time with her family. However, the condition of our state as well as our nation moved this devoted public servant to decide to re-enter the political arena and run for a seat in the Iowa Senate. This seat covers some of the district that she represented as a member of the Iowa House. Her Democratic opponent is the incumbent, but Sandy is a tireless campaigner and I am certain that the residents of her SE Iowa district will return her to the Iowa legislature where her leadership and common sense approach to solving problems are so desperately needed.
Sandy Greiner is not running for President. Yet her special guest for this event, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who appears to be. To the gathering of about 50 people he said all the right things:
“I am here in Iowa to help support strong conservatives for the Iowa legislature, in state government and to represent Iowans in Congress.” Translation: This is always the first step in a Presidential run. Show up in Iowa at mid-terms and by helping other candidates get elected an organization begins to be built.
Other telling statements:
“Health care reform must be repealed”
“2010 is the year to draw the line in the sand”
“America is a special place.”
All statements that I am in 100% total agreement with and that will continually echo across the Iowa landscape in the next five months as we move toward the November election through the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames on the hottest day of the summer in 2011 (yes, I already know this!) and reaching a crescendo on a cold winter’s night in early 2012 at the Iowa Caucus.
Sen. Santorum had an event in the Quad Cities before he came to Sandy’s fundraiser. Then he was headed to Des Moines to be the luncheon speaker at the State Republican Convention that will be held today. Rep. Ron Paul spoke at a pre-convention event in Des Moines last night and Rep. Michele Bachmann is making an appearance on behalf of Brenna Findley, our GOP Attorney General nominee after the convention this evening. Get the picture? The parade has started and will forth.
I enjoyed meeting Sen. Santorum. He showed passion and I will definitely give him a second look. I was able to hear him at CPAC in February and liked what he said there as well. Despite his ill-advised support of Sen. Arlen Specter’s last run as a Republican in Pennsylvania, I find his conservative credentials to be intact and as he took questions in a town-hall type setting, I was impressed with his command of the issues as well as his intellect.
It is a unique and awesome responsibility that we in Iowa have. We meet these contenders up close and personal in ways that most Americans never get the opportunity to do. Many of us do take this responsibility seriously–and the likes of Sen. Santorum learn quickly how to traverse the Hawkeye State to garner the majority support of Iowans who will show up at the Iowa Caucus to begin the selection of the next leader of the free world. It is a fascinating process.
And so it begins. The political pageant that is the Presidential election process. I will be sure to let you know who else shows up.