Pence in Iowa: A glimpse at the Republican election strategy

By: - April 23, 2022 6:33 pm

Former Vice President Mike Pence attended the Republican 4th Congressional District convention in Carroll on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

CARROLL, Ia. — Former Vice President Mike Pence lauded three of Iowa’s prominent Republican leaders in a visit to the state Saturday and lambasted Democrats and the Biden administration over a number of issues that could be key to election success later this year.

“It’s amazing to think how far our country has fallen in just 15 months,” Pence told delegates and others who gathered at the Republican 4th Congressional District convention in Carroll. “Joe Biden has done more damage to America in his first year and a half than any president in my lifetime. … The good news is, despite all the setbacks we’ve seen in the last year and a half, the Republican Party is fighting back all across America and all across Iowa.”

Pence, who ended his tenure with former President Donald Trump at odds over the validity of the 2020 election they lost, touted the former administration’s role in packing the federal court system — including the U.S. Supreme Court — with conservative judges, backing abortion foes and reinforcing the “strongest military in the history of mankind.”

Pence said he was invited to the Saturday event by U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, the first-term congressman who represents the district, who Pence said has “won admirers around America” for his integrity, faith and conservative ideas.

U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, attended the Republican 4th Congressional District convention in Carroll on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

On U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Pence said: “When I was president of the Senate, there was no more-courageous or principled conservative in the United States Senate than Sen. Chuck Grassley.”

And Pence said Gov. Kim Reynolds is “one of the most important conservative voices in our nation today.”

Pence, Feenstra and Grassley touched on several topics that are poised to factor heavily in Republicans’ bids to retake control of the House and Senate this fall.

Some were perennial issues such as immigration — “You can’t be a sovereign nation if you have open borders,” Grassley said — and gun rights.

Others were new. Pence and Feenstra cited conservative battles against “the radical left’s agenda” in regard to school curriculum about racism and conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms. Pence credited the issue for recent Republican gains in Virginia.

“Parents are rising up and taking their schools back,” Pence said.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, attended the Republican 4th Congressional District convention in Carroll on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

They also knocked Biden for recent inflation and high fuel prices. Feenstra said “we can be energy independent right here in Iowa with our biofuels,” and Pence rebuffed Biden’s efforts to blame fuel prices on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “It’s the war on energy that is driving up gasoline prices, and we gotta bring it to an end.”

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn, in a call with reporters on Friday, criticized the Trump administration for tax cuts that were too favorable for wealthy people and for investing too little in infrastructure such as bridges, roads and broadband internet networks.

“Mike Pence can’t rewrite his role in the disastrous Trump-Pence administration,” Wilburn said.

Grassley did not shy away from his affiliation with Trump on Saturday and highlighted his role in blocking former President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nomination.

“Together, President Trump and I cemented a conservative 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court,” Grassley said.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.