Government

President Trump was relatively tame during Iowa visit

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he speaks during a visit to the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on June 11, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he speaks during a visit to the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on June 11, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)
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As far as Donald Trump speeches go, this one was pretty tame.

The president was in Iowa last week to celebrate his administration’s move to clear the E15 ethanol blend for year-round sale.

After touring an ethanol plant in southwest Iowa during the afternoon, Trump went to West Des Moines to speak at a state party fundraiser.

Trump spoke for more than 46 minutes, and the evening ended without a dramatic headline. That’s an upset on par with the Washington Generals beating the Harlem Globetrotters.

Should a refresher be necessary: In his last Iowa rally speech, in Council Bluffs last October, Trump warned the crowd that Democrats would “end ethanol,” a puzzling claim given the strong bipartisan support the ethanol industry receives in Iowa.

And it was on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, during the 2015 campaign, that Trump infamously, during a discussion about the late U.S. Sen. John McCain and his military service, said he prefers military people who were not captured.

There were no such headline-stealing proclamations at Tuesday night’s event. Perhaps most surprising, Trump made little to no mention of the Democratic presidential candidates. He didn’t even mention Joe Biden, who also was in Iowa the same day.

Although it bears noting Trump did offer stinging criticism for Biden earlier Tuesday before leaving Washington, D.C., for Iowa. But during his remarks to roughly 800 Iowa Republicans that night, Trump focused on making the case for reelection by listing his administration’s accomplishments. His remarks were decidedly light on the combative speaking style he often uses at rallies and fundraisers.

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Trump did manage to take some swipes at Democrats more broadly, saying they are “angry people” who are “going crazy.” But that was about it.

The vast majority of Trump’s remarks were a reading of his White House resume, a description of how “our country is winning again like never before.” He talked about job and unemployment numbers, tax cuts, ending the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, U.S. Supreme Court appointments, ethanol, immigration and abortion.

He also renewed his pledge to keep Iowa first in the nation’s presidential nominating process.

He even said at one point, during a riff on the Green New Deal, “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to go too strong tonight, so I won’t. We won’t talk about it anymore.”

So, the story was that there was really no story.

Of course, that didn’t last very long. A day later, in an interview with ABC News, Trump said he would be willing to accept information on his political foes from a foreign country, a statement that once again sent shock waves through the political atmosphere.

And all we got Tuesday in Iowa was Trump conducting a crowdsourcing poll — by show of applause — whether he should keep “Make America Great Again” as his campaign slogan or change it to “Keep America Great.”

I think “Keep America Great” won by a slim margin, in case you’re curious.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. Reach him at erin.murphy@lee.net.

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