The Wheels Down Politics Show – Rep. David Young

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David Young 04Jerry Kratochvil interviews Rep. David Young (IA-03).

Congressman Young talks with Jerry about the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rules and how it affects Iowans. They continue talking about Rep. Young’s introduction of the “Good Government” legislation, that would force the U.S. government to operate under the same laws as ordinary citizens.

They also discuss the proposed Iran nuclear deal and the Congressman’s fairly unique travel and work across Iowa’s diverse 3rd Congressional District.

They finish up talking about Congressman Young’s activity with the Presidential candidates in Iowa. And — for a special treat — Jerry challenges him to top his U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley impression. (The Congressman does not disappoint.)

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.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – Dr. Ben Carson

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IMG_3127Jerry Kratochvil interviews Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson on the Iran nuclear deal. Dr. Carson talks about his views on the deal, the need for it and whether it makes America safer.

Dr. Carson gives his views on whether America should be at the table at all with Iran right now, and what may be down the road in ten years. He also talks about what the implications of the deal may be for Israel.

Dr. Carson finishes by relating what he hears from the people of Iowa as he travels the state and what the most important issues are that face the country today.

On the web: Ben Carson for President
Twitter: @RealBenCarson
Facebook: Dr. Ben Carson


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

The Wheels Down Politics Show – Jonah Goldberg on the Death Penalty

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Jonah Goldberg 02Jerry Kratochvil interviews author and columnist Jonah Goldberg on the Death Penalty.

Jerry and Jonah discuss the recent vote by the Nebraska legislature to abolish the Death Penalty, as well as a deeper discussion of the merits of the Death Penalty.

They discuss some of the fallacies of the arguments against — such as government’s role in putting someone to death and the work of the “Innocence Project” —  as well as some of the shortcomings of the arguments for.

Jonah also gives his thoughts on whether support of the Death Penalty is a staple of true conservatism.

A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg’s nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, the founding editor of National Review Online and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Jonah Goldberg at…

The National Review Online
The G-File (sign-up via National Review newsletters)
The American Enterprise Institute
Twitter: @JonahNRO
Facebook: JonahGoldbergNR
Jonah’s books at


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

RPI – Lincoln Dinner – After Party

On Saturday, May 16, 2015, the Republican Party of Iowa held their Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

Eleven GOP Presidential hopefuls spoke and nine of them held receptions afterwards — right next to each other.

For political aficionados it was like being a dog at a mailman convention.

Here is a short video of the scene:

There will be more coming from that day and event.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

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Lindsey Graham 01U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sits down with Jerry Kratochvil at the Republican Party of Iowa Lincoln Dinner.

They discuss President Obama’s response to ISIS, a potential invasion of Syria, engaging Iran, and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

They also talk about the Keystone Pipeline and…whether we should change the $20 bill.

On the web: Security Through Strength
Twitter: @LindseyGrahamSC
Facebook: Lindsey Graham


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

Sen. Lindsey Graham on invading Syria to defeat ISIS

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talking about invading Syria to stop ISIS.


LG: To get ISIL out of Syria where they have their largest haven, you’re probably going to need 100,000 troops — about 10,000 American.

And we need to go in there and clean these guys out and hold the territory.

There are thousands of foreign fighters in Syria, many of them have Western passports, they’re going to hit us if we don’t do something about it.

And that’s going to require us, partnering with people in the region, Arab armies, providing capabilities they don’t have, to take these guys on and hold the territory once you take it.

Q: Just so I understand, are you suggesting an invasion of Syria?

LG: I’m suggesting that somebody better go in on the ground and destroy ISIL in Syria, they aren’t going to surrender.

Q: But it’s got to be at least US lead?

LG: There’s gotta be Arab generated Armies with a US component. We have air forces. They don’t. We have technical abilities. They don’t.

There is no way you’re gonna go in and hold the ground after you take it without an American component.

It is in our national security interest to destroy ISIL before they hit us here at home. It is in our national security interest to have some of our soldiers over there preventing them from coming here again. We’re gonna have another 9/11 if we don’t do something about this. The storm clouds are gathering over in Syria and Iraq and Yemen.

And at the end of the day the Arabs need to do most of the fighting, but to think we can defend America with no troops over there is naive.

And I’m here to tell people, if I’m Commander in Chief we’re gonna do what’s necessary.

We’ll need thousands of our soldiers over there helping armies in the region to do things they can’t do to protect millions of us here at home.

Hear the whole interview at Wheels Down Politics.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

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Senator Chuck Grassley 002Jerry Kratochvil interviews United States Senator Chuck Grassley.

Senator Grassley talks about the upcoming vote for Loretta Lynch for Attorney General and his thoughts on whether she should be confirmed by the Senate.

They also discuss Senator Grassley’s background as a non-lawyer on the Judiciary Committee and how he originally got there. And they get into Twitter, Instagram and “The Full Grassley”.

They conclude with some thoughts on what Senator Grassley would tell President Obama — as well as what the current influence is of Iowa freshman Rep. (and former Grassley Chief of Staff) David Young.

On the web:
Twitter: @ChuckGrassley
Facebook: Grassley
Instagram: SenatorChuckGrassley


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

The Rise of Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz 002

Wes Enos is a contributing writer on Wheels Down Politics – Iowa. This article is the second in a series on the GOP Presidential candidates. It was adjusted after Cruz’s rollout.

As the race for the Republican presidential nomination takes off, one of the burning questions was about the ability of Senator Ted Cruz to translate his firebrand conservative persona and national celebrity into political gold. Early numbers did not indicate that the Freshman Senator from Texas was catching fire immediately. Overshadowed early by larger poling numbers and national supporter bases for big name contenders on the right of the Republican spectrum like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Cruz hovered around 5% in most polling samples.

Those numbers exploded late last month as Cruz officially announced his 2016 Presidential bid. Almost overnight, the junior Senator from Texas “Cruzed” past both Huckabee and Paul to capture 3rd place in a poll released by Public Policy Polling group that was conducted between March 25th and March 31st. Those findings seem to be supported by the massive outpouring of support for Cruz as he embarked on his first solo campaign tour into Iowa.

Cruz drew large crowds across Iowa on a trip into the state widely heralded as a success. In Des Moines, Cruz packed a ballroom at the Airport Holliday Inn with a crowd of over 250 people, ranging from enthusiastic supporters to detractors looking to trip Cruz during the question and answer period of his program. Most attendees that I spoke to however were more curious and committed at this point. However, the quazi-celebrity of Cruz seems to be a major draw, bringing people in from all across the Republican spectrum to hear the message that Cruz has to offer.

While the crowds are impressive and a great sign of the momentum that Cruz currently enjoys in Iowa, a point of caution should be offered. In 2007, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani drew large crowds in his early visits to Iowa as well. Those large early crowds and surging early poll numbers ultimately translated into a distant 6th out of 7 candidates with a paltry 4% in the 2008 Iowa Caucus. In 2011, former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann surged to a lead in early polls in Iowa and also drew massive crowds at all of her stops across the Hawkeye state throughout the caucus cycle. What did these big crowds and curious on-lookers yield for Bachmann? Like Guiliani, Bachmann’s campaign also finished 6th out of 7 candidates with 5% of the vote on caucus night.

The hard lesson to be learned from Bachmann and Guiliani’s example is that media hype and big crowds alone will not carry a campaign to political success. The trick is to transform those curious on-lookers who take enough interest to attend an event into enthusiastic supporters. The key is substance, careful organization and care. These three pillars of a successful caucus campaign we absolutely essential to former Governor Mike Huckabee and former Senator Rick Santorum’s successful campaigns, and early signs indicate that Cruz is ready to adhere to them as well.

In one pointed question from a young woman in the audience gave voice to a central criticism against Cruz, attacking the role that the Senator played in the government shutdown of 2013. It was obvious that Cruz is polished and far more ready to answer tough questions than Bachmann ever was. Without a moment’s hesitation, Cruz fired back that the government shutdown was a mistake and proceeded to blame that mistake of the inability of President Obama to lead the nation.

Following the event key organization figures, legislators, party leaders, religious leaders and activists from across Central Iowa gathered in the hall outside of the ballroom to mingle together while they awaited their pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with Cruz after the events. This kind of care is an indication that Cruz appears to understand how the process works, and is prepared to do what is necessary to win. For now, it would seem that Cruz has permanently broken through the barrier to enter the first tier of 2016 Republican Presidential contenders …. But it is a long road to the Iowa caucus.

The Presidential Candidates – First Tier


Wes Enos is a contributing writer to Wheels Down Politics – Iowa.

The Iowa Caucus season has officially begun. After two cattle calls for Presidential candidates hosted by Congressman Steve King, and Iowa agriculture magnate Bruce Rastetter as well as several smaller events hosted by individual candidates across the state, the mad dash across Iowa for the Republican nomination is well underway.

So, as we begin this 4-year political pilgrimage to the Hawkeye State, what better way to kick off the season of political blogging than to take an in-depth view of each of the candidates? We’ve broken the field down into three categories with an analysis of where each candidate stands today. These positions are likely to swing wildly over the course of the next 10 months, but it gives us a nice lineup of everyone’s starting position.

We’ll start with candidates that I would consider to be “First Tier” meaning that they have a perceived fundraising and support base, coupled with constant polling numbers that give them an opportunity to control the race from its earliest stages.


Scott Walker 0002Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – Walker was catapulted to the front of the pack in Iowa following an outstanding performance at the Iowa Freedom Summit hosted by Congressman Steve King in Des Moines last month. Since then, Walker has begun to amass an impressive list of influential supporters in Iowa. It’s difficult to not be impressed by the Wisconsin Governor’s accomplishments in office, and his stump speech has dramatically improved. Walker is the Republican’s man-of-the hour in the 2016 Presidential contest.

However, if we learning anything in the 2012 Presidential primary it is that front-runner status is fleeting. Once you’ve established yourself as the frontrunner, literally every other campaign is going to try to come up with a way to knock you off of your pedestal. They’ll hit you with a barrage of issue-based attacks, try to draw you off of your message and undermine you with activists. The higher you climb, the greater the scrutiny of everything you say and do, as well as everything you’ve ever said or done. The trick for Walker is to maintain momentum and consolidate your gains, which is much more difficult to do than most people realize at this stage of the race. Still, Walker has won three statewide elections in a Democrat-leaning state in the last 4 years. He’s no stranger to scrutiny but the danger for Walker is very real. If Walker can’t hang onto the lead, the narrative will simply be that he peaked too early and couldn’t maintain.


Rand Paul 0001Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – Paul begins the race in an interesting and somewhat cumbersome position. Paul benefits from a pre-existing network in Iowa left behind by the two previous campaigns of his father. This gives Rand an edge in early organizational efforts, but it also places him at a disadvantage in some ways.

It’s safe to say that Rand Paul is not Ron Paul and his appeal will likely be more broad, but with that more broad appeal comes the danger of alienating the core constituency that elevated Ron Paul to his 3rd place finish in Iowa four years ago. In 2012, Paul was able to add a healthy portion of Iowa’s evangelical voting base to his constituency, however a general reluctance to take the elder Paul as a serious contender throughout most of the 2012 primary led to a relative lack of scrutiny of his positions.

The fact is, Paul’s hardline Libertarianism is largely out-of-step with the core beliefs of the Evangelical voters that joined the Paul coalition in 2012. This led to an unlikely alliance that, under normal circumstances, should have been easily fractured. Rand wont have that luxury in 2016. He’s already regarded as a national frontrunner, and the scrutiny will come early and it will be intense. Paul will need to find a way to strike a sort of balance between his core Libertarian base, while finding inroads into other Republican factions if he wants to succeed where his father failed.

Paul already seems to understand this problem and has done a great job of diversifying his national organization with a plethora of new advisors and managers, breaking from the usual list of managers from the Paul-Inner-Circle. Still, for the Paul campaign, 2016 will be as much about herding cats, as it will be about anything else.


Mike Huckabee 0001Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – Huckabee begins the race with a strong network of dedicated volunteers left over from his 2008 campaign, but 8 years of transforming from politician to television personality has left much of his support scattered.

Even his 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign manager has moved on, recently signing with Governor Walker’s 2016 campaign. This has left the duty of rallying his forces in the hands of several unpaid volunteers with little to no experience building or cultivating a political apparatus. That isn’t to say that this situation is a bad thing, it’s simply a good representation of what the Huckabee brand really is. It’s an organic movement based largely on Huckabee’s ability to make personal connection with people, making them go out of their way to do anything they can to help him.

Huckabee is not to be underestimated. His even-tempered charm has only improved during his long political hiatus, as has his knowledge of foreign policy issues, his general name ID and likely his list of donors. Huckabee won’t start off as the front runner in 2016 in Iowa, and that’s probably a good thing for him. It keeps his initial expectations in-check and it saves him from having a giant target painted on his back. This dynamic will likely give Huckabee the breathing room he needs to travel the state, re-forge his personal connections and prepare for his next run at the Republican nomination.

Still, Huckabee faces significant challenges. He will still need to deal with expectations. Gone are the days when raising a few hundred thousand dollars in a quarter to keep the lights on in his campaign office will be adequate. Huckabee doesn’t need to raise the most money, but he needs to look competitive or his base voters will simply move on to greener pastures. He’s also got some tough issues like Common Core and Immigration Reform to deal with, and some of the more aggressive campaigners can use them to puncture holes in Huckabee’s coalition before he gets back up to his former strength.


Jeb Bush 0001Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush – In 1999, Jeb’s brother, then Governor George W. Bush jumped into the Presidential primary with all of the force of an unstoppable juggernaut, churning its way to the nomination and eventually the White House. By comparison, the beginning of Jeb Bush’s campaign has been lack-luster at best and if we’re really being candid, almost feeble.

In national polling Bush has hardly taken the kind of commanding lead that his brother established early on, often lagging behind Walker, with upstarts like Carson, Huckabee and Paul nipping at his heels. That isn’t to say that Bush’s campaign is over before it starts.

Just because Jeb hasn’t taken forceful command of the 2016 Presidential field early like his brother did doesn’t mean that he can’t or that he eventually won’t … His last name is, after all still “Bush” and with that comes a huge amount of money. The kind of massive fundraising prowess Bush can muster should NEVER be underestimated.

A campaign can move the needle a long way on a lot of issues when they have the fire power to buy up the airways and drown out their opponent’s message … or at the very least, turn all political messaging into obnoxious white-noise to the average voter that they’ll simply tune out leaving the candidate with the ability to go up strong and early (Bush,) as the defacto winner … It also helps that Jeb Bush is a smart and likable guy and his tenure as Governor of Florida was largely viewed as a success.

The bottom line to remember with Jeb Bush’s campaign is this: Don’t use his brother’s campaign as a measuring stick for Jeb’s campaign. George W. Bush’s campaign was like a freight train that knocked the others out of the way early. Jeb Bush’s campaign will be more like a meat grinder. Slowly grinding away at the field in a sort of political war of attrition, possibly leaving only Jeb with the resources to compete down the stretch.


Part 2 — the Second Tier candidates — coming soon…

Welcome to Wheels Down Politics – Iowa!

WDsquareIowaWelcome to Wheels Down Politics – Iowa!

Wheels Down Politics – Iowa is a new blog talking about all things political in Iowa. We will be writing and talking about local, state and national issues — obviously with a heavy dose of attention on the Caucuses as well.

And why?

My name is Jerry Kratochvil, and I am the Editor and chief writer here. I have been an observer of politics in the state for many years, and spent time campaigning in Iowa as well. As an organization director for Chuck Grassley way-back-when, I got hooked on Iowa political chops. Since then I have been involved in politics one way or another, and decided the time was right to spread my thoughts around.

But I will get help as well. Iowans more politically seasoned than I will be adding their thoughts to the discussion here, and we hope to keep that group growing.


And why “Wheels Down Politics”? Well, for years we have all heard that places like Iowa and Nebraska and Kansas and the Dakotas are the “fly over” states. But give that a little thought.

When was the last time Chris Christie or Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee flew OVER Iowa? It’s not a fly-over state, it’s a fly-INTO state. And in the campaign vernacular when you have a VIP coming in, the times you pay attention to are “Wheels Down” (when all things start happening for real) and “Wheels Up” (when you can finally kick back for a few minutes).

So welcome to Wheels Down Politics, where politics lands.


But why the “- Iowa” at the end? Well, is the hub of the growing political network that started earlier this year. The first spoke off of that is “”, a Nebraska politics blog that has been operating for the past nine years, since 2006.

Wheels Down Politics – Iowa ( is the newest spoke. But back on the hub, Wheels Down Politics is the home of our political podcasts, and we hope that will be a great new asset to the Iowa politics discussion.

There are a few podcasts on Iowa politics, but we hope to give this a new focus. We have already been posting new episodes of The Wheels Down Politics Show, and have thus far focused on guests for the Nebraska blog.

But the first step out for Iowa was at Bruce Rastetter’s Iowa Ag Summit, where I took part in the press scrums and observed the coming and going of all those who took part.

You can hear my 2 parter from the Iowa Ag Summit here and here.

(Among other things, you can get my thoughts on the mini-Lindsey Graham phenomenon and the longest exit by any of the candidates – Ted Cruz.)

We look forward to more guests on Iowa politics very soon.

And a note on the podcasts: they should always be accessible and easy. So that means they will last not much longer than the average commute to anywhere in town, back and forth to the coffee shop or an easy workout — 25 to 30 minutes. If they are much longer than that (such as for the Ag Summit) they’ll be split up.


Our first new blog post will be coming at noon today, from one of our contributing writers, so be sure to check back!

Be sure to bookmark us, like us on Facebook and follow us on the Twitter (@WheelsDownPols).

And be sure to add your comments to the posts and podcasts. We look forward to a robust discussion, and your thoughts (keep things civil!) will be a big part of it.

Thanks for visiting and come on back to Wheels Down Politics – Iowa.