Sen. Ted Cruz stumps for Hinson at Linn County fundraiser
Rep. Ashley Hinson took up her violin at the end of a fundraiser on Aug. 28, 2021. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Central City — Rep. Ashley Hinson announced her run for reelection at a star-studded Republican event on Saturday afternoon. Republican speakers focused on the national partisan divide, pushing the message that Democrats had moved too far left for Iowans.
“Kitchen table conversations happening right here oftentimes don’t match up with what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and I think that’s especially true for rural Iowa and rural America,” Hinson said. “They seem to have completely lost touch with what matters here.”
Hinson began her address with a moment of silence for the U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, including a 23-year-old Marine from Red Oak. She then picked up her violin and led the audience of several hundred people in singing the national anthem.
Hinson focused the rest of her speech on policy issues: her opposition to the $3.5 trillion spending bill, her disappointment in the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and her support for farmers and law enforcement.
“I’m here today to say, no matter what storm comes in the next year, we are ready to fight. We are ready to win. And we are ready to retire (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” Hinson promised the cheering crowd.
National politics, international news shape the event
Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Randy Feenstra, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also spoke at the event. They praised Hinson’s performance in her first term and emphasized the dangers of the “liberal agenda,” singling out Pelosi and progressive party leaders.
“(Liberals) came to town to transform America,” Grassley said. “I think Ashley and I and other Republicans are there to preserve America.”
McDaniel said Democrats “do not want the United States of America that we know and love.”
“The Democrats have made it clear: they want communism. They want socialism,” she said. “They want to tell us what to think, what to feel.”
Cruz praised Iowa’s Republican delegation, then began a list of short, declarative statements to summarize Republican grievances with cancel culture: “America is great. The Taliban are terrorists. Chinese Communists are evil … Christopher Columbus discovering America was a good thing … Police officers protect us and keep us safe. Israel is our friend. There is a difference between boys and girls.”
The crowd cheered loudly at each assertion. Cruz said any of those statements could “get you canceled.” He promised “revival is coming” for the country.
Cruz ran for president in 2016, when he won the Iowa Caucuses but ultimately lost the nomination to Trump. He’s one of several national Republican politicians who have been spending more time in Iowa ahead of the 2024 cycle, sparking speculation that he’s considering another run.
Cruz will attend another Iowa event Sunday, as Nicole Hasso launches her campaign to challenge Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd District.
The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement criticizing Cruz’s record on agriculture and in Texas. Hinson’s 2022 opponent, state Sen. Liz Mathis, also tweeted a statement about the event.
“By bringing Ted Cruz to Iowa today, Ashley Hinson is propping up the presidential ambitions of a guy who glorified insurrectionists and abandoned his state during a natural disaster,” Mathis tweeted.
Trump’s legacy — and hopes for a 2024 run — prevalent at Hinson event
Attendees Chris and Sandy Klein, 54 and 66, have supported Hinson since her first run for the Iowa Statehouse in 2016. The Kleins said Saturday they hoped former President Donald Trump would run for reelection in 2024.
“I don’t like as far left as everything is going,” Sandy Klein said. “I worked too hard all the years for my money. I don’t like seeing it just go to frivolous things.”
Trump loomed large over Saturday’s event, although speakers stayed focused on the 2022 midterms. Many attendees wore MAGA hats and pro-Trump graphic T-shirts, including several variations on the phrase “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for Trump.”
During Hinson’s speech, an audience member yelled, “We need Trump back!”
“We love President Trump, don’t we?” Hinson responded.
When Miller-Meeks criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan pull-out, the same attendee shouted, “Try ‘em for treason!”
Miller-Meeks did not acknowledge the comment, though the crowd cheered.
Reynolds was also a crowd favorite at the event — the audience surged to their feet when Reynolds took the stage, beginning her speech by touting her return to school and “back the blue” policies. Every mention of Reynolds’ pandemic policies was met with applause.
Urbana resident Trisha Ludolph, 32, said she was especially excited to see Reynolds speak at the fundraiser.
“I just like everything she’s done so far, trying to keep our rights and not let them get taken away,” she said.
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