GOP chairman speaks in Johnson County ahead of Obama visit
"We need everybody on board," Reince Priebus says
CORALVILLE -- On the eve of President Barack Obama’s stop in the liberal stronghold of Iowa City, Republicans weren’t laying out the welcome mat.
Instead, they held an event of their own Thursday night, attended by Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Priebus criticized Obama and touted the importance of Iowa for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, calling the state “ground zero for us.”
“We need everybody on board. Everybody,” Priebus said, citing Republicans, Tea Party members, Ron Paul supporters and people who voted for Obama in 2008 and may now be disillusioned.
More than 60 people, including Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker, attended an event at the Johnson County Republicans' Coralville headquarters that doubled as a pork barbecue the county group won for a voter identification effort last month.
It also served as a counterpoint what’s expected to be a large outdoor rally on the University of Iowa campus Friday when Obama is joined by Vice President Joe Biden and their wives, first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.
With Iowa and its six electoral votes seen as up for grabs and vital for a victory in November, both presidential tickets have put in a lot of time in the state. Romney is to be in northwest Iowa on Friday, and his running mate, Paul Ryan, was here earlier this week.
Priebus said Romney was a man who has set goals and met them. He also criticized Obama’s handling of the economy and the size of government and the amount of taxes it takes to run it.
“The problem in our government isn’t that we don’t take enough,” he said. “The problem is there isn’t enough to take to run the monstrosity that we’ve created.”
Quentin Marquez, vice chairman of the University of Iowa College Republicans, hit on the recent Republic theme of saying Americans are not better off now than they were four years ago. He alluded to a report from earlier this year that found about half of recent college graduates were unemployed or underemployed.
“He just hasn’t lived up to the promise of a better America,” Marquez said of the president.
Hayley Bahr, 26, was making phone calls on behalf of the Romney campaign inside the county Republicans’ headquarters with her 16-month-old daughter, Kate, at her side. She said her husband is a second-year medical student and they both believe Obama’s health-care law is harmful.“I think it (the Obama administration) has been a failure,” she said.