Iowa's Lieutenant Governor, four US Senate candidates, two state legislators and one outspoken talk show host gathered together under the "Big Tent" of Republican ideas at the Hamilton County GOP Fall Fundraiser Saturday night in Webster City.
Held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, the event drew Republicans not only locally, but from Wright, Franklin, Hardin, Webster, Story, Polk and Lyons counties.
Highlighting the achievements of the Terry Branstad administration, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds told the assembly that Gov. Branstad is working hard to make Iowa the best in the nation.
Stewart Iverson, Connie Evers and Dave Young conduct the auction at the Hamilton County GOP Fall Fundraiser.
"We have passed some historic legislation which is in stark contrast to what is happening in Washington, DC," said Reynolds.
With leadership and courage, the Branstad administration has eliminated a $900 million deficit and balanced the budget to make Iowa one of the top healthiest financial states in the nation, she said.
The Branstad team has brought $18 million in private capital to the state with the arrival of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, CF and Cargill. She said.
"We have reduced property taxes by $14.4 billion without harming local governments," Reynolds said.
One of the results of those cost savings was there was no tuition increase at any of Iowa's three universities this year.
But the Branstad administration is not satisfied with those achievements, said Reynolds.
"We want to make Iowa more competitive," she said.
As for the health status of Iowans, Lt. Gov. Reynolds told the crowd that the Branstad administration wants to make Iowans the most healthy people in the nation.
"We have moved from the 19th healthiest in the nation to ninth," she said of the implementation of the Iowa Health and Wellness initiative.
Health care is also the focus of the current administration, she said. This is being done by offering low to modest income Iowans a stake in their own health care by making them contribute in part to the premiums.
"We want them to have skin in the game," she said.
As to the future, the Branstad administration is dedicated to serving Iowa and Iowans.
"But we can't do it without you," Reynolds said, urging the crowd to work to send Republicans to Washington, DC to help Sen. Charles Grassley in the Senate.
Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey told the crowd that there are parallels between agriculture and politics.
"We have to take care of a lot of things between now and then, but we have to be ready for next November," he said.
With all the close races ahead, the public's participation will make all the difference, he said. That is because elected officials can affect the future for a long time with adverse legislation. But if enough candidates are elected who will rollback legislation like the Affordable Care Act, then
things will change.
"If we do it right, we can create a very bright future in our state," he said, as he encouraged the crowd to support a Republican candidate for the US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin next year.
Mary Mosiman was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to serve out the unexpired term of Iowa State Auditor Dave Vaudt. Vaudt resigned last year to take over as chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. Mosiman is running for the position that will be up for election in 2014.
"The state auditor plays a role of quality control for taxpayer's money," Mosiman said prior to the event. "The office sets the highest priorities that can benefit Iowans".
The role of state auditor includes auditing state finances with billions of dollars at stake in addition to overseeing local governments. The office directly reports to the people of Iowa, she said.
"(In the state auditor's office) We don't earn anything," she explained. "We use tax dollars that are generated by the public and everyone needs those dollars taken care of".
Tasked with investigating fraud, the state auditor also has the ability to investigate and prosecute violators.
"Like Dave Vaudt used to say, 'In God we trust, everyone else we audit,'" she said.
"We have a true rare opportunity - to get rid of Tom Harkin," State Sen. Jerry Behn told the assembly. "Please get behind someone to take out Bruce Braley".
Sen. Behn noted that Democratic candidate Braley follows in lockstep with Sen. Harkin in supporting the Affordable Health Care Act.
To highlight why it is necessary to replace Harkin with a Republican, Behn read a lengthy one sentence explanation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The author of the sentence is Barbara Beller, candidate for Illinois District 17 Cook County Board.
"We are going to gifted with a health care plan that we are forced to purchase and fined if we don't, signed by a president who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke," read Behn, who added "What could possibly go wrong?"
Behn noted that despite that synopsis and the initial failure of the ACA rollout on Oct. 1, Braley is still committed to its implementation.
"We need to pound him to death with his own vote," said Behn.
State Rep. Rob Bacon told the assembly that only three years ago, Iowa faced a budget deficit of $900 million, but under Republican leadership like that of Stewart Iverson, the state now boasts a surplus of a half a billion dollars.
"Thanks to the Republican leadership that fought for every dime," said Bacon. "We need two more Republicans like him in the state legislature".
Bacon said that legislation can be simple: Don't spend more money than you take in; Don't play accounting games; and return unused money to the people.
That practice has resulted in the State of Iowa paying off $16 million in notes and bonds and saving Iowans $15.1 million.
"It is great honor to serve in Des Moines," he said.
Tamara Scott, the Republican National Committee's National Committeewoman for Iowa, spoke to the differences that exist today in the Iowa Republican Party.
While it may appear there is a civil war within the Republican Party today with moderates and Tea Party Patriots battling for control of the party, it is best for the GOP to acknowledge those differences and to remember what strengths both factions possess.
"Those are small differences compared to what we have to face," she said.
Later Scott said that the two factions need to remember the basic principles of the Republican Party.
"I think this is a great opportunity. If we can come together as a party that stands on principles, there will be no stopping us," said Scott.
She stressed that the Republican Party is the only party that stands behind the Constitution.
"Prosperity and liberty are our only hope," she said.
Four of the five Republican candidates for the US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin were present at the event - Sam Clovis, Matt Whitaker, Scott Schaben, and David Young. Candidate Iowa National Guard Commander Joni Ernst was serving guard duty in Ft. Dodge.
The first US Senate candidate to speak was Sam Clovis, a decorated 25-year veteran of the US Air Force who retired as Inspector General of the US Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Clovis wasted no time in addressing comments made by his Democratic opponent Bruce Braley.
"Braley has the temerity to compare the GOP with the Wizard of Oz," said Clovis.
He in turn offered his own comparison of the ruling party in Washington, DC.
"In the great annals of a socialistic program, the Wizard was an ordinary man who thinks he knows more than anyone else," explained Clovis.
The Cowardly Lion lacked courage to stop the harm being done to the country, while the Tin Man lacked a heart to bring the country back from the economic brink of collapse, explained Clovis.
"The Scarecrow," said Clovis. "He just needs a brain, and we have plenty of those in Washington, DC.
Clovis wondered if stupidity could be identified as a preexisting condition to qualify for Obamacare. He also questioned whether the Democrats knew that people would stand for the Affordable Care Act if it was known beforehand that 100 million people would lose their insurance because of it.
"It was insurance fraud," said Clovis.
US Senate candidate David Young left his job as Sen. Charles Grassley's chief of staff to run for the Harkin seat.
"I have seen the dysfunction of our government up close," Young said.
Young identified three deficits facing Washington - a budget deficit, a jobs deficit and a trust deficit.
With a $17 trillion national deficit, some Republicans are just as responsible as Democrats, said Young.
"With the amount of fraud and waste, there is so much fat on that budget that we can easily slice it off," he said. "Washington needs an intervention".
Young proposed that a zero base budget be adopted by the Congress and that all departments appear before Congress and justify their funding requests.
"There has to be accountability to the public because it is your government," he said.
Young advocates approval of the Keystone Pipeline which he believes will provide not only jobs but also energy independence.
Young also advocates tax reform. A flatter, simpler tax system would bring taxes down and provide a permanent certainty for Americans, he said.
The final deficit he would tackle is the lack of trust in the government.
"President Obama says that all the issues raised are phony," said Young. "Fast and Furious and the death of Brian Terry was not phony. What happened in Benghazi? Knowing makes all the difference in the world".
The final instance was that the IRS was using its power to intimidate opponents of the administration.
"It is not phony to keep the government accountable," said Young.
"I will carry a big stick to Washington and it has Iowa values written all over it," he pledged.
United States Attorney Matt Whitaker decided to become involved in the US Senate race because of what he saw was happening in America.
"The American Dream that we inherited is under a lot of threat," said the father of three. "Their tomorrow is not brighter than ours was 20 year ago".
Whitaker cited President Ronald Reagan who also believed that a modest tax burden, sound currency, free trade and private businesses were at the heart of America's economic success.
Whitaker said government is not the solution to problems and challenged the audience to identify one program that became more efficient when the Federal government became involved in its operation.
"And Obamacare? Do you think it's going to get better?," asked Whitaker, citing the poor performance of the initial sign-up rollout.
"We need to get back to basic block and tackle to get to common sense solutions," said Whitaker, a former University of Iowa tight end who played on the last Hawkeye Rose Bowl team.
Small businessman Scott Schaben noted that all the items at the dinner were donated, so it must be an Republican event.
"If it was a Democratic event, the bill would go to someone else," he said.
Schaben asked the crowd what would have happened 150 years ago if the people were sold a product they had to buy, that didn't provide what was needed or what it was billed as and it garnered not a single Republican vote.
"The people on the Democratic side need to be held accountable," he said.
Also, gun rights' candidates need to be elected in order to protect liberties, he said, noting the Democratic challenger opposed gun restrictions because they were not restrictive enough.
"There were lofty goals that this country was founded on," said Schaben.
He advocates a path to solvency that includes creating jobs in order to reduce the unemployment rate to two percent.
"We need to hold people in government accountable," he said.
WHO Talk Show host Simon Conway was the keynote speaker and opened with a confession.
"I am a Conservative," he admitted. "I'm not a Republican, I'm an Independent".
Growing up in a socialist society turned him into a Conservative, Conway explained later. He moved to the United States 14 years ago.
"My parents taught me to be self-sufficient and I got my first job when I was 12 years old. I've been employed ever since," he said.
Conway noted that politics are full of lies and deceit. He noted that Iowa politics are no exception.
He cited the civil war within Iowa politics where the old guard is fighting to keep Tea Party groups from having a seat at the table.
"Leadership does not want to talk to anyone who doesn't agree with them," he said. "Why else would the party have to go out of state to find an executive director?"
Conway asked Republicans to face reality because "we are stuck with Obamacare," he said. "It is not going away even if Republicans take over because the president will not sign away his signature legislation".
All the country can do is wait for the health care system to implode, said Conway.
"That is the kind of health care that killed my dad," he said.
He said that as much as the public may dislike the Affordable Health Care Act, people will not vote to eliminate a program that gives services away for free.
Conway proposed that instead of getting rid of Obamacare, the Republicans work to make it better and make it work.
Conway noted that Sen. Ted Cruz fought the wrong battle on the debt ceiling fight.
"Now we have a suspended ceiling and they can spend anything they like until February when the Democrats and Republicans get together and raise the debt ceiling," said Conway.
"Obama is playing a sick game and the American people are the target of this sick game," said Conway.
The assertion that not raising the debt ceiling will cause the world to look at America as failing to pay its bills is wrong, said Conway.
"By raising the debt ceiling is an admission that we can't pay our bills," he said. "By refusing to raise the debt ceiling, it says we can".
While the country is $17 trillion in debt, Conway offered an illustration of just how much one trillion is. He suggested to start counting at "One" and continue through generations for 32,000 years in order to reach that goal.
Conway charged the assembly to make sure they elect an honest US Senate candidate and that he or she knows that if they are not honest, they will not be re-elected.
"Demand the truth from candidates," urged Conway.
In reference to his message, Conway said during his three hours of his radio program on AM1040, he tries to entertain and do stand-up.
"I try to tell the truth," he admitted. "I never know what I'm going to say. Sometimes I do stand-up. But our country is in too much trouble to do stand-up".
Conway urged voters to fully vet the next US Senate candidate.
"If we send another dysfunctional person to Washington, we will get the same thing," he predicted. "Republicans don't want that type of thing to happen".
Conway told voters to demand answers.
"Even if you don't like the answer, at least you will know what it is," he said. "Take a stand on the issues".