North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum talked to approximately 40 people in his first stop of his Friday in Iowa. (Photo by Jay Waagmeester/Iowa Capital Dispatch
Republican presidential candidate Doug Burgum discussed energy and national security Friday as an early morning attendee of the Northside Conservative Breakfast Club at the Briarwood Club in Ankeny.
Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, announced his candidacy for president in Fargo on Wednesday. He followed the announcement by heading to Iowa, with stops in Farley and the Field of Dreams in Dyersville on Thursday. Friday, he made stops in Ankeny, Elkhart, Des Moines and Marshalltown.
Burgum won the North Dakota gubernatorial election in 2016, which marked his entrance into politics. He won reelection in 2020, beating Democrat Shelley Lenz by 40.4%.
Burgum is a software investor and spent time working for Microsoft after selling his software startup company Great Plains Software for $1.1 billion to Microsoft in 2001.
Burgum spent much of Friday morning discussing energy, one of the main industries of his home state. He criticized President Joe Biden for purchasing oil from the Middle East rather than supporting American oil, saying that Biden used the strategic reserves for the wrong reasons in 2022.
He also called out Biden for preventing federal lands from being used for oil production and rare earth mineral extraction for batteries.
“Do you want batteries? Well, then we better be able to do rare earth mineral extraction,” Burgum said. “Who’s the largest landowner in the United States? The federal government. Who’s the largest mineral owner in the United States? The federal government. What is this administration saying? You can’t touch federal land, for oil, for gas, for rare minerals, you can’t touch it.”
He went on to say that the decision is de-stabilizing the planet, and that energy as a whole affects U.S. national security.
Burgum believes U.S. dependence on foreign oil, purchasing it from enemies rather than selling it to allies, makes the world vulnerable, and has allowed Russia to invade Ukraine.
National security, one of his primary platform points, is also related to cybersecurity.
Early in his campaign Burgum has emphasized the need for governments to use technology to their best advantage.
“Government is so inefficient,” Burgum said. “It’s so far behind in the application of technology to be able to actually deliver services.”
Burgum said he wants to utilize technology to defend against other nations.
“We are in a cold war right now with China, we are absolutely in a cold war,” Burgum said. “Every day in Iowa and North Dakota, go talk to your cyber experts in Iowa, we get attacked every day at the state level by North Korea, Russia and China.”
Burgum is also a founder of a real-estate development firm and a software venture capital firm, and has worked much of his life in technology in the private sector.
Due to Burgum’s recent entry into the field, many of the approximately 40 attendees at the Friday morning event did not know much about the governor from North Dakota.
Attendees asked Burgum about biofuels, which he strongly supports, voting equipment integrity, defending against China’s growth, the conflict in Ukraine and gerrymandering.
David Boyd of Ankeny knew one thing about Burgum coming into Friday’s event: The candidate is from North Dakota. After the event, Boyd thought Burgum’s experience in technology was intriguing and thought the governor gave straight answers to questions.
Burgum has not yet topped the list of Joel Rybolt of Ankeny, who is supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at this point.
“(DeSantis) has done a nice job in Florida,” Rybolt said. “He does a better job of articulating his message.”
Rybolt believes that candidates in the large field should find a way to connect with voters, make their accomplishments known and keep away from aggression.
“Make yourself known, make yourself more appealing. Sometimes candidates are not so appealing, they’re more aggressive,” Rybolt said. “Find a way to just connect.”
Fred Schuster of Ankeny says DeSantis and Nikki Haley are at the top of his list right now.
Schuster said he appreciates the fact that Burgum is a successful businessman, but wonders about the governor’s foreign policy abilities.
Burgum enters a field of candidates that includes DeSantis, Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, political commentator Larry Elder, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina, former President Donald Trump, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
Other than praising Trump’s efforts at the at the U.S.-Mexico border during his time in office, Burgum did not mention any other Republican candidates during his stop in Ankeny.
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