Iowa Republican leaders heart Trump all the way

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I haven’t seen Gov. Terry Branstad this excited since he was bravely defending lean-finely textured beef.

And even when the product he’s selling now, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, is spouting a brand of slime that’s increasingly hard to swallow, the governor has refused to curb his enthusiasm. Not one bit.

On July 28 in Cedar Rapids, Branstad cornered the market on exclamation points as he extolled the virtues of Trump. The governor said The Donald would cut taxes and regulations and create income for farmers, even as he rips up trade deals that built vital export markets. The same deals Branstad has praised repeatedly over the years.

“But that’s all going to change when we get a new president who is going to make America great again! Donald Trump!” Branstad yelled to the throng, which began chanting “Lock her up!”

“Help is on the way!” Branstad insisted.

He was followed by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who talked about her decision to join the military. “That honestly has been one of the biggest honors of my life, serving with some of the greatest servicemen and women that our country has to offer,” Ernst said.

And yet, soon, Ernst’s guy was dumping on a Muslim Gold Star family. They sacrificed their son in defending a country where Trump would make them targets because of their faith. They dared to challenge his constitutional ignorance. He said they had “no right” to do it. Case closed.

He wouldn’t let up. Throw in an assortment of other mistakes, insults, feuds and tantrums, and Trump’s poll numbers drooped. But who cares? If he loses, the election is rigged. If you can’t make America great again, plunge it into postelection chaos.

On Friday in Des Moines, after all that, Branstad took the stage again for Trump. It was as if nothing had happened.

“I’m excited to welcome to Iowa the next President of the United States, Donald Trump!” Branstad yelled, without a hint of restraint. He went on to denounce Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as an enemy of corn-based ethanol.

“We know Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted!” Branstad said. More “Lock her up!” rang out.

“Donald Trump will make America great again,” Branstad thundered as he finished. Up came the music, with Mick Jagger singing, “You won’t break this heart of stone. Oh, no, no, no.”

Their hearts belong to Trump, Branstad, Ernst and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who told the Des Moines rally that a candidate running off the rails would put the country “back on track.” GOP U.S. Reps. Rod Blum and David Young made themselves scarce, but they support the nominee. Also absent was U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, although he still is dutifully holding open a U.S. Supreme Court seat to be filled by Trump, once the candidate figures out how many articles are in the Constitution.

They’re saving the caucuses, I’ve heard. They’re saving the Renewable Fuel Standard, they say. They’re being good Republicans, after all. They’re insisting we hand the White House to a reckless rogue who can’t even respect a family who lost a son in battle.

But can they save their own credibility? It will be no small task making Iowa Republicans believable again.

l Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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