Trumpapalooza in Council Bluffs

Trump stageFor an Iowa rally, that was a lot of Nebraska.

Donald Trump blew into Council Bluffs last night, by way of Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, and gave a Trump rally to Trump fans.

He spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes.

One hour and fifteen. All talking.

And there was no intermission.

Heck, consider that many people got there at 4:00pm or earlier, he didn’t go on until about 6:45pm and didn’t end until about 8:00pm.

If you were really into Trump, that’s a solid four hours of time on your feet.

So what did you get? Well, first, it was in the relatively small Exhibition Hall that is connected to the main arena at CB’s Mid-America Center. He could have used a larger room.

Here were people packed into the front half:

Trump Crowd

And then that went down either side (with a big press riser in the middle) and then people in the far back as well.

I’d guess there were at least 2,000 people in there — but I haven’t seen anything exact. Everyone had to pass through metal detectors so the crowd was still filing in after Trump had already started.

And what did he have to say?

Well…Trump stuff.

He didn’t really break any news. He is clearly making a push for Iowa’s Evangelical vote, brandishing a Bible at the start. And he made a sort of left-handed knock on Ted Cruz not really being an Evangelical. (Interestingly, Rick Santorum made a similar comment yesterday as well.)

And he had some generic knocks on Hillary. A knock on Caroline Kennedy as Ambassador of Japan.

But otherwise there was lots and LOTS of…poll numbers. “I’m ahead in this poll, and that poll, and the press doesn’t say it, but I am, and the press stinks, and I’d be great at making deals…”

Nothing you haven’t heard before.

The closest he got do a detailed policy was saying he’d tax foreign-made American imports (like Fords built in Mexico) an additional 35%.

Though he could easily walk that back.

So here was the interesting part:

At one point Trump expressed his love of Omaha. And the crowd gave a loud cheer. So he asked how many were from Nebraska.

And probably 80% of the crowd raised their hands. And I think he was surprised. And probably a little disappointed.

There is a feeling by many (expressed yesterday by Hugh Hewitt, among others) that Ted Cruz is going to win Iowa. The gist is that the Caucuses demand an organization, and Cruz has one and Trump does not.

I’m not sure the CB rally helped Trump in that aspect. Posters were up asking people to help organize and represent at their caucus site.

Trump Sign

With just a month to go, you would think or hope that would already be in place.

So does that mean Trump hopes for the best, but really puts his faith in New Hampshire and South Carolina?

Well, at this point I’m not sure underestimating Trump is the right game plan.

But if the rally in Council Bluffs, that was more Nebraska than Iowa, is an indication, a primary may be better for Trump than a caucus.

Of course we won’t have to wait long to find out.

**Click here to watch the entire speech.**

The Wheels Down Politics Show — Deirdre Walsh – CNN Congressional Producer

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Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 2.26.43 PMJerry Kratochvil interviews CNN Congressional Producer, Deirdre Walsh.

Jerry talks with Deirdre Walsh about her experience over the past month covering the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner and the rise of new Speaker Paul Ryan.

Walsh talks about the shock everyone had with the Boehner’s announcement, followed by the shock of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declining to run for Speaker. She discusses the different Republican Caucuses in the House (including where Rep. Rod Blum (IA-01) stands) and how they came to coalesce around Paul Ryan — and what changes House members may look forward to under the new Speaker.

Dee CNN 03
Courtesy The New York Times

They conclude by talking about Walsh’s visit to Omaha back in 2007 for Chuck Hagel’s non-announcement announcement for President, as well as how Walsh and Kratochvil got to know each other.

Twitter: @DeirdreWalshCNN
On the Web: CNN – Deirdre Walsh, Sr. Congressional Producer


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

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Young lauds WOTUS ruling

DYoung 01
Young listens to farmers in Dallas County.

Third District Congressman David Young today lauded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s nationwide stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule.

Young has been a vocal critic, calling it a “deeply flawed rule.”

Today he said,

“This is good news. Today’s court ruling on Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) reinforces what Iowans have been saying all along: this confusing and job-killing rule is a federal land grab. It hurts Iowa farmers, job creators and workers, communities, and private land owners.

“We have now seen the U.S. judicial system block the rule from going forward. In the House of Representatives we have been leading the fight, using several legislative measures to try and stop this damaging rule. I will continue working with my colleagues in the House Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, and on the House floor to find a solution to stop this rule.”

Young has been a vocal critis of the WOTUS rule, and discussed it in depth on The Wheels Down Politics Show.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst

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Joni Ernst 01Jerry Kratochvil interviews United State Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Senator Ernst discusses her experience over the summer talking to constituents and why she thinks people have taken an interest in candidates such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

She then talks about her stance on the Iran Nuclear deal and why she voted against in the Senate, particularly as a Lt. Col. in the Iowa Army National Guard. They talk about what is next for the agreement, and whether it should be classified as a Treaty. Senator Ernst also gives her thoughts as to whether the so-called “nuclear option” in the Senate can work.

They conclude by discussing the Senator’s leadership on nullifying the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, and where that issues will go from here.

On the web: Official Site for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst
Facebook: Sen Joni Ernst
Twitter: @JoniErnst
Instagram: @JoniErnst


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

5ive hours of debate

1442459484931I got a full night’s sleep last night, yet I’m STILL exhausted from the 3 hour CNN GOP Varsity Debate last night. (At hour 2.5, my son asked when it would end. I said, “Oh, it goes all night.” He responded, “Seriously?“)

There is an online poll on Drudge that asks who won. As of Thursday morning, 55% said Trump.

Which just goes to show the worthlessness of online polls.

The person everyone is talking about this morning, and the clear winner of the debate, was Carly Fiorina. Marco Rubio was a pretty clear second, though some could differ on that.

Chris Christie probably came in a farther third after Fiorina and Rubio. From there it’s a crap shoot.

Huckabee, Cruz and Walker didn’t do a bad job. But they didn’t shine, and at times became invisible, kinda like Hugh Hewitt.

Like Trump fans, you will never convince Rand Paul supporters that he had a bad night, but his answers likely nailed his coffin shut for the season. (And cue the Paulistas to jump to the comments!)


It can easily be argued that Trump’s appearance was semi-disastrous, though his supporters really don’t care. His body-language was awful, his responses were rambling and he got pwned (as the kids say) by Fiorina, and arguably a few times by Bush and Carson. His initial attack on Rand Paul was sort of out-there, though I suspect it was strategic at some level.

But again, his performance will not matter to his hard-core fans. But it likely reinforces the cap that his overall support will have (though that depends on him needing over x% in the primary).


People like Ben Carson’s soft-spokeness and calm, but his responses got long and rambling, and on a number of points seemed to go no where.

He has been climbing in the polls significantly lately, but it shouldn’t be surprising to see some of his support shift.

Oh, and if the election were held today, John Kasich would be done.


The JV debate seemed to be just that. Lindsey Graham was enjoyable, but probably too far-out militaristic for anyone’s taste right now.

Jindal should cool his jets just a tad and wait for next time. Because while it won’t happen now, he could have some staying power.

Not real clear why Pataki and Santorum are still in the race.


But while some candidates seem to be finished, others ebbing and flowing, the fact of the matter is it is still only September. Lots more can happen, news of the day can take over and voters can and will easily flip.

Trump, Fiorina, Bush and Rubio seem to be in for the long haul.

Trump won’t be leaving anytime soon, Bush has too much cash and Fiorina and Rubio keep over-achieving — at least on TV, if not eventually in the polls.

Walker was on the rise, but his message just seems to continue to be a little…dull. Not in the “boring” sense, but as in “non-shiny”. He is the opposite of Trump’s mylar streamers that gardeners use to keep the crows away. Walker still has a good message, but he seems to get less interesting.

[On a side note, I have been asking pols who THEY would like to see on a new $20 or $10 — and CNN’s Jake Tapper stole my questions. Interestingly, Scott Walker answered me by saying, “I’m more interested in keeping twenty-dollar bills in people’s’ pockets, than worrying about who is on the front of them.” But last night, he changed his answer to “Harriet Tubman“. Ah well.]

This was Christie’s best performance yet, but I’m still not convinced he is getting traction. Same for Cruz and Huckabee.


The biggest loser of the night was undoubtably CNN. What a mess.

Three hours? And that was just the late show. The whole schmear went from 5pm-10pm. It was like binge-watching the campaign on Netflix.

Way too many of, “Donald Trump said this. What do YOU think?” questions.

The timing never seemed to work, with Tapper and the “Thank you Governor. Thank you. Thank you,” as they just kept talking.

No idea what Hugh Hewitt was doing there.

A number of goof-ball questions, “A lot of social media questions about Climate Change!” Right. From all of CNN’s GOP viewers…

And it is unclear why the Republican Party handed over the debate process to CNN in the first place. Maybe that’s easier to say, after the Trump ratings bonanza. But they would be much better off-putting it together themselves, then offering the TV stations to bid on it. It won’t be surprising to see this be the case in the future.

And as I noted on the Twitter, the debate with a deflated Trump was much like a golf tournament back in the day, where Tiger Woods was no longer in the final group. It just became less “Must See”.

But the Live Tweeting of the debate is still the best way to go…

The Wheels Down Politics Show – Rep. David Young

(Click above to play in the browser or Direct download by clicking here, or by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.)

David Young Pork Chop 02Jerry Kratochvil interviews Rep. David Young (IA-03).

Congressman Young talks about his travels around Iowa’s 3rd District since the end of the County Fairs to the end of the State Fair in Des Moines. He discusses some of his meetings with constituents and what their overriding concerns are.

They then take a deeper dive into Congressman Young’s recently announced decision on the proposed Iran Nuclear deal and the Congressman’s thoughts and reasoning behind his decision on the deal.

They then discuss the upcoming issues before Congress in Washington, including the threatened government shutdown by President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Reed — both of whom want to increase spending over what the Republican majorities have passed. They dig in a little further about what some of those appropriations include — and more about what they DON’T include, on such issues as water and transportation.

They touch on the “Trump Effect” on the Presidential race and how it has impacted Iowa. The two then conclude their discussion with the Congressman giving 4 or 5 of his top dining experiences across the district over the past month. Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” has nothing on Congressman Young’s dining across Iowa’s “Sweet Sixteen”.

On the web: Rep. David Young

Twitter: @RepDavidYoung
Facebook: Rep. David Young
Instagram: RepDavidYoung

Young for Iowa


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.


Dr. Ben Carson at Council Bluffs' Bayliss Park.
Dr. Ben Carson at Council Bluffs’ Bayliss Park.

Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina gave resoundi…


And so went the weekend news.
Whom I don’t blame. That’s their gig. Every other candidate is dog bites man, and who really cares.

But Trump! Did he mean what he said? Did he say what he meant?

OK, here’s my Trumpitudes, and then we will try to be done…with this episode.


I wasn’t sure about his whole, “blood coming out of her where ever” comment until I heard the soundbite.

Just so you can be part of the conservation, here it is:

So in summation…

Abso-friggin-lutely Trump was referring to Megyn Kelly menstruating. Ab-so-lutely.

He gave a slight pause and said, “coming out of her…what ever…”, with a lilt in his voice. Feel free to disagree. If so, you’re wrong.

He definitely meant that.

So…what then?

Erick Erickson disinvited him from his forum to be petulant. And frankly it made Erickson a little news. Had he kept Trump invited, and then Trump said something outrageous again, or had to defend himself there, or whatever, only Trump would get the news. Now a few more people have heard of Erick Erickson and RedState.

But frankly, disinviting Trump only gave his proponents more steam. I say let Trump speak to as many people and events as often as possible.

His only card (his trump card, har har har) is bombast. Beyond that he has nothing. When asked what his proof was that the Mexican Government was sending criminals, etc. over the border, you could hear him panicking. His answer suddenly was “border patrol people” told him so.


So here is the deal. Trump in a debate or a gathering or an anything is like Tiger Woods in the final day of a golf tournament (pre-divorce). He is a ratings magnet. And the more bombastic thing he says, the better.

Until it’s not.

He will go over the top on any issue, and THAT will be the news of the day. Just wait, and he will say something over the top about the Iran deal — insulting Iran or the President, just up to the edge of needing to apologize. Then it will be Planned Parenthood. Or whatever next issue he can hit without needing to provide details.

Look at him when he talks healthcare. He cites the cross-state sale of insurance as his answer. Which has been discussed forever. But when he is asked to drill down, he cites Canada and Scotland as his champs of socialized medicine?

It is hilarious that his top advisor quit, citing Trump’s failure to run a serious campaign. Because that isn’t his plan. I could just hear Trump telling his minions to “do one of those Get Out the Vote things” a week before Iowa or New Hampshire, as they stare at him blankly.

But even more hilarious is Republicans — who actually vote — who think he is the answer to whatever ails America.

Unless they think what ails America is not enough Trump.


By the way, after Trump declared on the Twitter (at 3am!) that Erick Erickson is a “Loser”, I wondered who all was on his Loser list.

Thankfully, someone at the Washington Post took care to calculate it:

Losers: A list by Donald Trump


Dr. Ben Carson drew the peeps out to Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs on Sunday.

It is clear that people do still crave the non-politician — like The Donald — and Carson is someone who comes across just a tad more cerebral than Trump.

A frequent reader attended the event and noted how surprised they were at the crowd for this type of event. It was pretty much just Carson, and getting a crowd like that on a Sunday afternoon — in the heat — is impressive.

Carson seemed to give his main stump speech, and many are still impressed.

It will be interesting to see if he can keep that rolling with Trump and Scott Walker. The latest Public Policy Polling shows Trump now on top in Iowa with 19%, and Carson and Walker at 12% (Jeb at 11%).

But Carson also seems like a candidate who could survive on a shoe-string for quite a while. It waits to be seen how far he can rise.

(And to hear more from Carson, listen to my podcast interview of him here.)

Debate Wrap

Carly Fiorina 01OK, one thing I got wrong in my debate predictions:
The late one last night was a hoot.

I don’t know if people will be talking about it in a month, but it was some solid TV watching. (And I will say as well that watching it with the Twitter whirling is really a treat. Awesome way to follow along.)

In any case, a few thoughts…


Because of the way they came in, regarding Winners and Losers, I’d say (and these have changed from my original thoughts on the Twitter):


Rubio — because he had the strongest showing, hadn’t really been in the news lately, and arguably got some points out of the whole thing.

Kasich — because he only joined the fray recently and this was an introduction to him for many (if not most). He wasn’t exactly electric, but he was solid.

Christie — because he had been lower in the polls ever since The Bridge, and this might have raised him a little.



These candidates all gave, at times, very good answers. But they also didn’t shine through to any huge extent. Their fans still like them. Their detractors still don’t. They likely didn’t gain or lose much from the undecideds. (This is without looking at any polling data, etc.)


Rand Paul — because while his fans will still like him, and he gave some good answers, and took on Trump early on, he also got zinged by Trump, and generally came across as the angry guy.

Trump — because he got hit early with the “3rd party run” question, the Rosie O’Donnell line, the threat to Megyn Kelly and the post-debate attacks on her, and being stumped on the “Mexican government” question (where the basis of his “proof” about the government sending illegals was talking to some border agents).

Sure Trump took a majority of the air time, and was the focus for much of the evening, but he likely lost many undecideds with his continued bombast. Drudge notwithstanding (and online polls are worse than useless), I cannot believe that LIKELY VOTERS came away from that and said, “I think Trump is my guy…


That being said, I do think Trump’s 3rd party plan is this:

“You better nominate me. Because if you don’t, I will run as a 3rd party candidate, insuring that Hillary will win. And you’d rather have me than Hillary. So you better nominate me, or else.”

Of course, Trump may just be bluffing.
(And will a voter really take that into account in the booth?)
But no one thinks Trump is NOT crazy enough to do it.


And the real winner of the night?

Carly Fiorina.

If you missed the Happy Hour debate, you saw that while she wasn’t exactly head-and-shoulders above the others (Rick Perry was very good as well), she was Rubio-level and “won”, if you had to pick a winner.

She would have likely been good in the Prime Time debate as well, but being one of seven, instead of ten, probably helped.

But if there was any doubt how good she can be, Chris Matthews helped prove it. If you missed her on MSNBC post-debate, you should definitely watch here:

She absolutely slams BOTH Hillary AND Matthews. It was like a deft pool shot where she knocks them both in.

More time will tell how she converts that performance into a Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But if she doesn’t gain the nomination, she is in the driver’s seat for VP.


And what do you think?
Will Trump’s bombast last?
Can Fiorina make the leap?
Will Rubio’s or Kasich’s performance convince people?
Did Walker or Bush do anything to lose their leads?

Debate Prep

This combination of photos, from top left, shows Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and from bottom left, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. The candidates are scheduled to participate in a Fox News Channel Republican presidential debate on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. (AP Photos/File)
This combination of photos, from top left, shows Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and from bottom left, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. The candidates are scheduled to participate in a Fox News Channel Republican presidential debate on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. (AP Photos/File)

Tonight is the first debate among the 2016 Republican Presidential candidates.

By the way, the Democrats have yet to even plan one for their candidates. Keep that in mind when someone tries to tell you the Democrats weren’t planning on a coronation for Hillary.

In any case, there are some who have a beef that only the “top 10” are in this first debate (with the “Happy Hour” pre-bate among the others left out). Rick Santorum argues that “August polls mean nothing” and that another New Yorker, Rudy Giuliani, was leading the pack back in 2008, and everyone had written off John McCain.

In any case, there are STILL 17 to choose from. Having seen the much smaller, yet still multi-candidate debates in the Nebraska Republican Governor and Senate primaries, I don’t have much hope to get anything out of this.

Frankly the idea of two debates randomly split amongst all of the candidates may have been a better idea.

But, for tonight, we have what we have.


So, weigh in with your predictions and/or desires.
What do you want to see?
What do you THINK you’ll see.

Do you have a favorite?
Do you have a drinking game?

Who do you think will win?
Who do you think will get hurt?

And, as always, what of The Donald?
Does he dominate?
Does he take it over?
Does he come out over the top, or a big disappointment?

And what will EVERYONE be talking about tomorrow?

And even better, will this debate have any effect, and will people remember it come Labor Day?


Here’s some thoughts…

I want to see how one candidate differs from the rest.
These are all “rock-ribbed” Republicans, right?
Sure they all want to defund Planned Parenthood and kill the Iran deal.
That’s good — and will likely kill their chances if they say otherwise.
But what’s next?

I think we will see very little separation, except that there will be ganging up on Jeb Bush on immigration issues. I think he will try to give some “sensible” answers and I don’t think he will be able to give more than what amounts to a “Tweet” response, and it will likely get drowned out.

I have a few candidates that I like, but I’m not sure I have a favorite. There are a few that I do NOT like, but I’ll play that closer to the vest for now.

The main question will be the over/under on when Planned Parenthood and Iran are mentioned. I’ll go ahead and set the House number at 1:30 minutes in for BOTH. You may choose the over or the under.

I think that in general, Bush and Scott Walker will play it safe. I think Chris Christie and Ted Cruz and maybe Rand Paul will try to break out and show their bravado — and I think it will be difficult in the format.

I think Trump will be jam-packed with one-liners, and will risk getting stumped on something nuanced. In general, my bet is he still gets most of the coverage tomorrow, but it isn’t just saying his name over and over and it will be less “glowing” than it has been for him.

Tomorrow, everyone will be talking about…how the format was terrible and how one of the Happy Hour Prebate candidates broke out.

No one will cite this debate after Labor Day except to say they should never do this format again.


What say YOU?

And just in case you wanted some more insight, here are some podcasts that include

An interview with Prime-time debater, Ben Carson.
An interview with Happy Hour debater, Lindsey Graham.
Some Q&A with Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz at the Iowa Ag Summit.
Some Q&A with Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham at the Iowa Ag Summit.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – Pete Sepp — National Taxpayers Union

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Pete Sepp 02Jerry Kratochvil interviews Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union.

Kratochvil asks Sepp about his thoughts on Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds’ and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’ recent joint appearance in support of Renewable Fuel Standards for ethanol. They also talk about how the GOP Presidential candidates are discussing the RFS issues.

They continue their discussion about the increase in the Gas Tax in both Iowa and Nebraska, and the idea of broad change in tax laws and how that can be achieved.

They finish the discussion talking about how states can change policy on larger issues when there is a crisis and immediate attention is needed. And how they can do it when there is no perceived crisis.

On the Web: National Taxpayers Union
Twitter: @NTU
Facebook: National Taxpayers Union


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.