Government

Iowa GOP shows strong support for Trump

'He's bold. He's confident,' Rep Steve King tells crowd

U.S. Rep. Steve King speaks during a May 3, 2017, reception in Washington, D.C. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Steve King speaks during a May 3, 2017, reception in Washington, D.C. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — If any doubt remained, Iowa Republicans have laid it to rest: They remain firmly in President Donald Trump’s corner.

Neither the tweets, nor the hard-line immigration policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents, not even a budding trade war that threatens the bottom lines of Iowa farmers has stopped Iowa Republicans — at least those most active in party politics — from voicing full-throated support for Trump.

That was made clear earlier this month during the June 16 Republican Party of Iowa state convention, attended by roughly 1,200 party activists, leaders and elected officials.

State GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann devoted much of his remarks to the campaign for governor, but also rallied the crowd to express their support for the president.

Kaufmann asked the crowd to show whether they support Trump, and nearly everyone in the building stood and cheered.

“Keep it up, President Trump,” Kaufmann yelled during his typically fiery speech.

Kaufmann told the crowd he realizes some of Trump’s tweets “make you pause,” but said Trump must use Twitter to communicate to his supporters.

No convention speakers mentioned the immigration controversy, which drew criticism from many Republicans, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.

U.S. Rep. Steve King noted the trade war’s harmful impact on Iowa soybean and pork farmers, but expressed his steadfast confidence in Trump and asked the convention crowd for the same — and for patience.

The Northwest Iowa congressman said Larry Kudlow, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council, asked King to not criticize the administration’s moves to add at least $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods — with another $200 billion proposed — because it could weaken the administration’s negotiating stance.

Meantime, soybean prices fell to their lowest level in nine years, and pork prices also have fallen. Iowa exports more than $3 billion in soybeans and $2 billion in pork, according to the state economic development department.

“Let’s give (Trump) room to operate with his strategy, this multidimensional negotiation. Give him time. Give him room,” King said. “Because after all, we elected this president. I like him. He’s bold. He’s confident. We’re riding a tiger, and it’s a little dangerous to try to get off.”

King, who was appearing on the heels of his own, latest drama — he reposted on social media an opinion piece from a Nazi sympathizer — also told the convention crowd he was the first person to suggest Trump should win a Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Roughly 44 percent of voters nationwide approve of Trump’s job performance and 51 percent disapprove, according to Real Clear Politics’ average of national polls.

Those numbers were the same found in Iowa, according to an Iowa Poll published in February in the Des Moines Register.

IOWA GOP REUNION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Terry Branstad, the U.S. ambassador to China and former Iowa governor, met with U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst last week in Washington, D.C.

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According to the Grassley and Ernst offices, the three discussed trade between the United States and China, denuclearization talks with North Korea and the production in China of the synthetic drug fentanyl, a contributor to the opioid epidemic.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. Reach him at erin.murphy@lee.net or 563-383-2492. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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