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Ken's Commentary – 8/14: Battleground Iowa

For a state with so few electoral votes, it’s amazing how much political force is brought into this state to win a presidential election. It may be the fact that Iowa is schizophrenic in its politics; no party has a lock on the presidential vote here.

This week, President Obama is touring the state by bus with a message that is aimed right at Midwest agriculture:

“I call on the House of Representatives to pass a farm bill and provide the necessary aid to farmers in this time of drought stress and to have a responsible food aid program that will serve the needs of struggling Americans.”

Obama supports wind energy tax credits, and he still favors the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Paul Ryan
On the other side is new Vice Presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman who voted against the agricultural disaster package, and is so conservative in his budget views that the pending farm legislation would likely get a “no” vote from him because of too much farm spending and too much food aid spending.

Ryan was mobbed by media at the Iowa State Fair yesterday and did an unimpressive job of stating his case before a Midwestern audience and national media. Why would you come to the premiere state fair in the country and not talk about agriculture? Why wouldn’t you go pet the calves, hold a baby pig and pose with the Fair Queen?

I’m not just unhappy that media didn’t get a chance to question him. I thought he blew a great opportunity to show that he’s a real human being and to deal with the agricultural issues that can’t be avoided.

Congressman Ryan is a fiscal and moral conservative, and shows it in Congress. He is very disciplined, physically and emotionally. However, he should not have come to the Iowa State Fair, spent such a brief time, and said the same thing he did when Governor Romney picked him last weekend.

Compared to the sound bites made by President Obama, Ryan did badly in his first appearance in Iowa.
Tom Latham
Republican Congressman Tom Latham was on the grounds and was sort of smoothing over Congressman Ryan’s presentation. Latham is in a tough race with Democrat Congressman Leonard Boswell as redistricting has put them up for the same seat. Tom (who went to Russia with me in 1990) is having to answer tough questions on why the House did not vote on the Farm Bill before leaving for its August recess.

Latham says it would have been beaten from the right and the left. He favors putting in on the floor and opening it to amendments.

There is no sure outcome on that strategy, and that appears to be the reason Speaker Boehner didn’t do so.

There is something to be happy about; there are only eighty days left until the election!