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Michael Kiernan and Matt Strawn on the Primary Elections

posted on June 4, 2010

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Primary positioning. Political parties winnowing the candidates in next Tuesday’s primary elections. We’re getting insights from major party chairs democrat Michael Kiernan and republican Matt Strawn on this edition of Iowa Press.

Borg: In many ways voting in next Tuesday’s primary election is like a day at the race track, but instead of studying the morning line of horses, voters scan their ballots listing their party's candidates. But the objective, the same: pick winners. In this case, candidates who can withstand campaign rigors, crossing the November election finish line with more votes than the other party's candidates. And stretching that metaphor just a little bit further, the candidate stable managers are at the Iowa press table today, Republican State Party Chair Matt Strawn and Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan. Gentlemen, welcome back to Iowa Press.

Kiernan: Thanks for having me.

Strawn: Great to be here.

Borg: Do you like that, stable managers?

Kiernan: If you grew up on a farm like I did, it doesn't sound like much fun.

Borg: Also at the Iowa Press table, Associated Press Senior Political Writer Mike Glover and Radio Iowa’s News Director Kay Henderson.

Glover: Mr. Strawn, let's start with you. There’s a primary next Tuesday and there's some suggestions that in at least a couple of races, voters on Tuesday may not settle the issue. I’m thinking of the third district where you have seven candidates and the second district where you have four. It’s on your plate to call a convention if you don't get a candidate on Tuesday night. What’s your thinking about calling that convention, sooner rather than later?

Strawn: Well, first it's great to be here and talk about the thoroughbreds that we have in our stable.

Glover: I thought we'd taken it --

Strawn: You know, I’m excited about all the races, but since you specifically asked about our congressional races, that certainly is a possibility, with seven primary candidates in the third district and four in the second district. And we'll be communicating with those campaigns prior to Tuesday so they understand exactly when the date will be for a special nominating convention if it's necessary, but we don't have that announcement yet today.

Glover: How quickly? I mean would you rather have it sooner rather than later?

Strawn: I want to make sure that we have an opportunity for these candidates to campaign. It will be a second campaign, of course. it's not the kind of campaign that's waged on the air waves, but literally hand to hand, house to house within the third district, the 422 actually voting delegates for a third district convention.

Glover: So there will be some time between the primary and a convention if that's necessary?

Strawn: If that's necessary, correct.

Glover: Mr. Kiernan, same question to you. Do you assume democratic voters on Tuesday night will settle the issue and you won't need to worry about that?

Kiernan: I do, yeah. We don't have the same concerns. If you look at that congressional race here that they're vying to take out Leonard Boswell, the real question is you have a gentlemen who doesn't live in the district, you have a tea party candidate, and a state senator that struggles raising money. So the question from our perspective is how many ballots is it going to take to get through that special convention for the Republican Party.

Glover: What does it say about an incumbent seven-term democratic congressman that has seven republican opponents? What does that say?

Kiernan: I think they think it's a good year. But you could ask Mr. Strawn’s business partner, you could ask Mr. McKibben, they all thought that Leonard Boswell would be a pretty easy target too, and none of them were successful. I think they underestimate Leonard Boswell. They see him as -- like the nice old man next door, but the truth is he is the tough Vietnam veteran pilot.

Henderson: Gentlemen, I’d like you to give us some idea of what you expect turnout to be. Mr. Strawn, what is your guesstimate for turnout?

Strawn: Well, I’m not going to speculate on a specific number, but if we look at some of the things that have happened over the months leading up to our primary, I think you see that energy and enthusiasm in the republican party that we haven't seen for a few cycles. For example, let's look at absentee balloting number. Requests, we're up about 3-1 on the democrats in absentee ballots requested. We’re also up about 3-1 on absentee ballots returned. We’re seeing incredible turnouts at events all across the state. In fact probably the best example, about a month ago we had about 4-, 500 people the night before president Obama came to Iowa City. Juxtapose that a week and a half ago, Chet Culver with the sitting vice president of the United States in Cedar Rapids could only muster about 300 people to turn out. So there's a real enthusiasm gap that exists in this state between republicans and democrats, and I think you see that. I think you've heard -- I think Kraig Paulsen said it best that the most dangerous place to be in this state is going to be between a republican and a ballot box, be that on Tuesday, June 8, or on November 2.

Henderson: Mr. Kiernan, do you have any estimate of what democratic turnout may be? I’ve seen polls which show a lot of undecided voters in the marquis race, the U.S. senate race, which tells me that those people are not going to vote.

Kiernan: you know, I’d like right now a chance to respond, but from what we've seen when they talk about the absentee ballot program for like the Republican Party and their turnout, it's less than 1 percent. So I don't see this great amount of enthusiasm. I expect the turnout to be average. Do I know what that number is? I’m not going to speculate on that. But, look, I think that you've said the most dangerous place was between the Republican Party and the ballot box. I think the most dangerous place to be is going to be between republicans. I mean look at the fight that they have going on inside the party with those that lead the tea party movement and --

Glover: We'll get to that.

Strawn: I was going to say we don't have a sitting lieutenant governor to challenge us.

Borg: Kay, your final --

Henderson: Mr. Kiernan, will turnout be higher than it was on caucus night 2008?

Kiernan: You know, that's a good question. The secretary of state says it's going to be an average turnout, so I guess we'll wait and see.

Borg: Mr. Kiernan, it would seem that going into the November election, you have a significant advantage in that your voter registration is swollen by the Obama election two years ago. You have a significant edge in voter registration. But how do you preserve that, because a lot of those were independents that went over to the democratic registration at that time? But how do you preserve that now going into November’s election.

Kiernan: Well, I think let's look at where I started as chair of the party. The Democratic Party no doubt has seen some rough waters this past year. But, you know, we've held the line. We had a special election this past fall that was supposed to be a litmus test for where the Democratic Party would go in 2010. We held that line. We won that race. We’ve outraised the republican party of Iowa by about a million dollars in 2009 and more than 3-1 in the last reporting period. I think it starts by doing that everyday work on the ground and communicating with those folks, and that's what we've done. But to answer your point specifically, when you talk about independents, the question is where will independents want to go. Will they want to turn back the clock? Will they want to go back in time? What are issues that matter to independents? Let’s take a woman's right to choose. I mean do we want to go to Oklahoma style legislation for a woman's right to choose where in the case of even rape that a woman is forced to view a sonogram?

Borg: But what you're really saying is that you have issues that will keep people in --

Kiernan: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Borg: Mr. Strawn, does it matter -- does that voter edge matter?

Strawn: Well, I think it tells you the trends of what's happening in this state. We’re looking at a rebuilt and reenergized republican party. Since I was elected in January 2009, we have closed the registration gap by over 13,000 registrants in this state, 10,000 of those coming in this year alone. If you look at the numbers put out this week by secretary of state Mauro, by a 2-1 margin, we've seen more Iowa registrants go from democrat to republican registration than vice versa. I’ve already talked about the enthusiasm we're seeing with absentee voters. So I think that's an indication people are seeing the Republican Party as the vehicle for change in this state, putting this state back to --

Borg: You're saying the mood is changing.

Strawn: Oh, the mood is incredibly changing.

Borg: Mike.

Glover: Mr. Strawn, I’d like to get you to address the issue of party unity. Everybody says after the primary, we'll all come together and everything will be fine. But it strikes me that each party has some particular relevant issues to deal with. You have forces within the Iowa Republican Party. I’m thinking of the Iowa Family Policy Center who is saying if Terry Branstad is the nominee for governor of the Republican Party, we'll sit this out. Specifically what can you do to bring people like that back into the tent after the primary?

Strawn: Well, I think a lot of that we've already done, Mike, and that's by the party leadership staying neutral in these primaries. I guess here's one clear example between the parties. When you look at the national democrats, I think they weigh in in primaries and try and promise jobs like they did in the Pennsylvania senate primary and I believe in the Colorado senate primary as well. But here we want competition to flourish in our primary because it's going to be individual republican primary voters telling their leadership by voting in a primary who the nominee is going to be.

Glover: But you have important and significant forces within the Republican Party who have said publicly and repeatedly we're going to sit this out if Terry Branstad is the nominee. Specifically what can you do to get them back in the tent?

Strawn: Well, and I’m not going to speculate on what they may or may not do.

Glover: They told us what they're going to do, Chairman Strawn.

Strawn: Well, we'll see what happens after the primary, but right now November is going to be a referendum on the failed leadership of Chet Culver.

Glover: Mr. Kiernan, to you, you have your own unity problems with the Democratic Party. You have important forces in the Democratic Party -- I’m thinking of organized later -- who are less than enthusiastic about your sitting governor. He’s not delivered according to their agenda. How do you get them not just in the tent but energized, because you need them?

Kiernan: Yeah, absolutely we need them and we've kept those conversations going. They’ve said that they'll be there. Have there been disappointments along the way? Yeah. But I’ve made it very clear the Democratic Party is a big-tent party and we don't close it off to anybody. So have we had disagreements in our own family? Absolutely. But I think I said this the last time I was on the show that, you know, I come from a big, Irish Catholic family. At the end of the day did we get in fist fights? Did we beat each other up a little bit? Yeah, but you don't come at family. And we're going to stick together. We are family. But the real question that I see on the Republican Party side when we talk about tea party, when we talk about those with the Iowa family policy center, is here's a guy -- don't take my word for it. Look at the director of the tea party. Terry Branstad has a credibility issue. And more specifically, here's a guy who passes the buck to everybody but himself. He doesn't take responsibility for anything. I mean he even blames Bob Ray. Who doesn't love Bob Ray! He blames Bob Ray for mismanagement of the budget when he talks about the two sets of books, that he's the guy who cleaned that up. He was Bob Ray's lieutenant governor. He passes off everything but, you know, the funny thing is the one person he never gives any credit to is Bill Clinton who helped make this economy prosper in the '90s.

Henderson: I’m wondering about the endorsement which Sarah Palin tweeted this week, Mr. Strawn. Do you follow her on Twitter and what ran through your mind when you saw that?

Strawn: I do follow the governor on Twitter, and I believe I’m a Facebook friend as well. I think that's a great thing about a competitive primary process is that we see whether they're third-party groups, whether they're national politicians, or whether they're just regular folks here in Iowa investing in the process and getting engaged.

Henderson: She's not a regular folk.

Strawn: But she's a national leader as well. She’s an important voice within the party, and there's certain Iowa republicans that I think that has great significance with.

Henderson: Do you think she moved anything?

Strawn: I mean, I think we'll find out on Tuesday.

Kiernan: You know, I want to -- I’ve got to jump in on this one. When we talk about Sarah Palin -- let's get to the heart of Iowans and what they're looking for in a leader. I think Sarah Palin is going to do about just as much for Terry Branstad as she did for John McCain. And let me tell you why. Because when the going gets tough, here's when she did. She decided to quit in her role as governor of Alaska to go make money. Chet Culver decided to stick it out and help the people of Iowa.

Strawn: I was going to say, given the revolving door in the Culver campaign, I think quitting that force probably isn't very AP today.

Glover: I’d like to get you to handicap some races. We like to tick down the ballot just a little bit. I know as chairman of the Republican Party you can't take sides in a primary. Handicap the governor's race. Tell me the strengths and weaknesses in the candidates and how that looks heading into the general election.

Strawn: Well, I’m not going to speak to the different strengths and weaknesses of each of our candidates because the chairman of the party has to be neutral. And at the end of the day, I’ve been asked repeatedly who do you think poses the greatest challenge to Chet Culver this November, and ultimately Chet Culver --

Glover: Whoever wins your primary.

Strawn: Chet Culver is the greatest challenge to Chet Culver's reelection November because this election will be a referendum on his failed leadership, the fact that since he passed his signature I-jobs jobs legislation, an additional 20,000 Iowans are out of work. He’s taken this state into $1.6 billion worth of debt that my five year old and three year old are still going to be paying for when they graduate from college.

Glover: Mr. Kiernan, let's go to you. He won't handicap the republican gubernatorial primary. Why don't you?

Kiernan: You want me to handicap the republican primary?

Glover: Sure. I’m assuming you're paying attention.

Kiernan: Mike, you're great to have me on the show. I appreciate the opportunity. No, absolutely I’d love to handicap it. Let me tell you, since Terry Branstad has got in this race, he spent over $2 million on TV ads and he's gone down in the polls. Here’s a guy that's governor for sixteen years, spends over $2 million --

Glover: So I assume since you're focusing on him, you assume he's the nominee.

Kiernan: No, no, I’m going to get to all of them though -- you said I get to do all of them, so I’m handicapping this thing and I’m going to do it fair and square. So let me handicap it. So here's a guy who is governor for sixteen years and spent over $2 million and he can't bust 50 percent of the vote in his own party! That would be cause for concern. The other thing is I think since he got in and the way he got in with the draft Branstad shadow organization, he pretty much sucked the oxygen out of that primary. If you looked at bob Vander Plaats, there's a guy whose got a grass-roots game. Look at the small amount of money he spent and how relatively close he is in the primary and he's got that active base. I think Eric Wilson has done a great job as his campaign manager. I think if the turnout is low, Terry Branstad is in for a surprise. Rod Roberts, same thing. Terry Branstad has done an injustice to that party. Rod Roberts, is he a candidate that's offered new ideas and new leadership, he's tried but Terry Branstad sucked the oxygen out of that race. So anything could happen. If this turnout is low, I look to see bob Vander Plaats upsetting Terry Branstad.

Strawn: Well, Mike, I would say asking the democratic chairman to handicap the republican primary is like asking a --

Glover: Well, you wouldn't so I had to ask somebody.

Strawn: It's like asking a vegetarian to recommend a steakhouse. That’s the problem with this day in and day out. I look at any of our candidates quite frankly are going to beat Chet Culver in November because it's going to be Governor Culver's record that he is going to have to defend to the people of Iowa, and it's a record of failed leadership.

Glover: Well, handicap Governor Culver, then. What do you say -- you talk about his failed record and all this kind of stuff. What specifically can you use against him in November?

Strawn: Well, use against him? He put his name on the largest budget this state has ever seen. And what has been the result of that budget and the intended across-the-board cut that had to happen? We’ve got school districts all across Iowa now that have been put in the position that they're either laying off teachers or raising property taxes.

Glover: What do you say to republicans -- I’m not talking about democrats here. Republicans who are saying that during his tenure Terry Branstad doubled the size of the state budget? Did you hear that coming back at you?

Strawn: Well, we'll have that debate after the primary election if Terry Branstad is our nominee. But right now I’m confident that this election is going to be about the failed leadership of Chet Culver and the republican vision for moving this state forward. As I go around the state and talk to republicans and our candidates, it's important that we educate Iowans not just on Chet Culver's failures as a leader but making sure that they understand our solutions for moving this state forward. And it's addressing an economy that isn't creating jobs. It’s addressing almost a billion dollar budget gap that the next governor and legislature is going to have to deal with.

Henderson: Let's move to the U.S. senate race. Mr. Kiernan, you were talking about a big-name candidate who was going to come in and --

Kiernan: Did I say that the last time I was on the show. [speaking at once]

Henderson: Ah, you may have. [speaking at once]

Kiernan: Yes, that's correct, Dean.

Henderson: We'll get the tape out. Is she the prohibitive favorite?

Kiernan: Prohibitive favorite? The long story that we really didn't get into last time was when I first came on as chair, Mr. Glover, I think all of you except for dean were there at that press conference that day. The first question out of Mr. Glover’s mouth was are we going to have a candidate who could really challenge Chuck Grassley for United States Senate. From that press conference and in the next weeks, I sat down with Roxanne Conlin originally and talked to her over the summer months, before any of the other candidates had gotten in. So it's no secret that -- is she a favorite of mine, absolutely, because I recruited her because of what you see right now, which is she's within eight points of a sitting united states senator who, frankly, has been in government too long. Here’s a guy who has been in office since 1958. Hey, before Alaska or Hawaii were even states, this guy was serving. Do I think we have a real race on our hands for whoever wins that nomination? Absolutely. We’re going to have a real race. And I promised you it was going to be Senator Grassley’s -- the race of his life, and it will be.

Henderson: Mr. Strawn, how do you see the general election match up, whomever is the democratic nominee? Is Chuck Grassley in trouble?

Strawn: No. the latest polling information I saw that morning from the Public Policy Polling Institute, I believe it was, had Senator Grassley up 27 points. In fact, he was getting 25 percent of democrat support and was leading by 30 points with independents. And the people of Iowa rejected Roxanne Conlin and her liberal policies in 1982. A couple days ago the Des Moines Register even rejected her, saying that she wasn't knowledgeable about the issues facing the country and the state. And I’m confident that if she is the democrat nominee, the people of Iowa will again reject her and send Chuck Grassley back to senate for six more years of fantastic representation.

Henderson: Fantastic.

Kiernan: Fantastic. All right, let's look at fantastic. Go ahead.

Glover: There are five congressional races out there and some primaries. Handicap those for me? Which congressional seats are vulnerable?

Kiernan: I think that you've got -- I’m a person who believes you've got to look at everything being vulnerable. I’ve always had that view, so I think you run like -- you always run like you're ten points behind. Absolutely. You always run like you're behind.

Glover: You've got big republican primaries in the second and third districts, so clearly the republicans think those two seats are vulnerable. Are they?

Kiernan: You know, look, again, I think it's -- in their perspective I think they think they're vulnerable. I always tell everybody running act like you're vulnerable no matter what you think, no matter what the polls show. Maybe you're up by 35 points. You need to run like you're behind. That’s my motto. That’s what I stick with.

Glover: Mr. Strawn, are those the two most vulnerable seats in the state, the second and third district? We’re talking Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell.

Strawn: Well, first and foremost, certainly the two republican held seats aren't vulnerable. You know, it's been recruiting failure that the democrats don't have a significant challenge for tom Latham, which has traditionally been a swing district, the fourth district in the state. So I think that speaks to the record that tom Latham has as a great representative. Of course, Steve king is fine in the fifth district. As we go through the three democrat-held seats, there's no question that Leonard Boswell is in serious trouble. And Chairman Kiernan talked about him earlier. What Leonard Boswell has this cycle that he's never had in those previous cycles is actually a record, a record of blind partisanship following Nancy Pelosi and voting against the interests of Iowans. whether it's the $800-billion stimulus that hasn't stimulated anything other than the federal debt, whether it's a cap and trade bill that he said was terrible for Iowa farmers right up until he voted for it, and then, of course, the vote for taking over one-seventh of this nation's economy and health care insurance delivery system --

Glover: Mr. Kiernan, I have to give you the shot back.

Kiernan: Again, I mean ask his business partner that owns the Iowa barnstormers, Mr. Lamberti. If Leonard Boswell is such a pushover, then why couldn't Lamberti unseat him? Why couldn't McKibben unseat him? I mean here's a guy, though -- excuse me for one second, but here's an individual who served his country -- as you saw, he just got one of the highest honors -- military honors in this country. And here's a man that I think the people consistently underestimate who has gone to work every day and fought for Iowans. You’re going to see that Leonard Boswell come out in his campaign. If they want to underestimate him, keep underestimating him. Look, break this down for the race for -- in that race for the republican primary. You’ve got a guy that doesn't live in the district, right? You’ve got a state senator that can't raise any money. You’ve a tea-party activist and a couple other people you can't even name. The question is how bad do they come out of the republican primary, how bad is the damage, how many special ballots do you have to go through.

Borg: Mr. Strawn, back to you.

Strawn: Certainly. And one, I think that we should respect anybody that puts their lives on hold and wants to run for office and we shouldn't call them nameless folks. These are people that are putting their lives on hold because they want to change the direction of this country and this state. And whether they're democrats or republicans, we should respect people that are going to put their name on a ballot. That said, what Leonard Boswell didn't have in 2006, 2004, those other elections, was a record. Republicans were in control of congress so he could throw a few votes with the republican majority and then come back home and talk about how bipartisan he was. But for the first time under democrat majority rule, he is blindly following Nancy Pelosi and legislative democrats. When you look at where the bipartisan votes are in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are no votes, no votes against Obama care, no votes against cap and trade, no votes against the stimulus. There are 25, 30 democrats who have repeatedly voted against those things in Washington, and Leonard Boswell isn't one of them.

Kiernan: Let's talk about bipartisanship real quick. Let’s talk about Senator Chuck Grassley, who swore he would go back to Washington D.C. and he would have an honest, thorough debate on health care. But instead he came back to Iowa and said -- which got national news. This is about pulling the plug on grandma. Since then he's come back and retracted that statement. So let's have an honest bipartisan discussion about this.

Borg: We could go down the ballot.

Kiernan: Are we having fun or what!

Borg: All right. You mentioned a moment ago about former Governor Branstad. You called it a shadow organization. There's another shadow organization headed by Rob Tully, apparently now marketing the state with direct mail against Governor Branstad, and also TV ads. Isn't this an acknowledgment of the fact that the Democratic Party feels that is the strongest republican candidate in this race and they're trying to soften him up now, maybe even defeat him?

Kiernan: Personally I love it. I love what's going on here. Let me tell you why? Because it's a taste of their own medicine. You know, they've had the American Future Fund, the Iowa -- you know, IPP. They change names all the time. What’s worse is they have organizations that don't have to report their 501-c-4s or c-3s. I think it's great. I love what Rob Tully is doing. Dean, I’ll tell you why. Because he's holding him to his record. Which, by the way, the Branstad campaign doesn't refute what they're saying. They’re just mad that they're running the ads. Hey, don't ask me. Don’t take my word for what those ads are saying, because I can't find anybody that disagrees with them. Look at the head of the tea party. The head of the tea party says those ads are right. He essentially comes out and says here's a guy who raised your sales taxes twice, your gas tax once. Just go through the laundry list. So I think it's great what Rob Tully is doing.

Borg: Mr. Strawn?

Strawn: Yeah, I think our governor should show some leadership and denounce those groups and denounce those ads.

Kiernan: Well, will you denounce the American Future Fund? Will he denounce the Iowa family -- will you denounce them?!?

Strawn: I’m not aware that the American Future Fund is playing --

Kiernan: Well, wait a minute, though, they've been running negative ads against my governor -- they’ve been running negative ads against my governor for years now, and you guys know it! You followed those ads!

Borg: Let's give you a chance.

Strawn: Well, listen, I think it definitely speaks to democrats who are concerned about what's happening with Chet Culver, and they need to rely on these out-of-state -- and this one happens to be an in-state product group. You’ve got over a million dollars that have already been pumped into this state from the Democratic Governors Association. I guess that's the equivalent of political smelling salts to try and get Governor Culver off the bat.

Kiernan: But it doesn't change the question that nobody is asking. So was -- where were all -- where was all the outrage? Where were your people when they were tearing down on Chet Culver when he's trying to rebuild from the fourth largest national disaster in our country's history and the largest economic downturn since the great depression? You guys with the American Future Fund, you used to have an executive director that worked for one of those shadow organizations. So help me out here, guys, because what's fair seems fair. This is interesting to me.

Glover: Let's get back here and talk about -- we've gone to the top of the ballot. Let’s go down the ballot just a little bit. You control both chambers of the legislature. Will you control both chambers of the legislature after November?

Kiernan: Look, I believe we're going to hold the line. We showed that last fall in that statehouse seat. I think we're going to hold the line. it's funny you brought that up because, again, I have to bring something up that I think is interesting that nobody else has brought up. Terry Branstad has constantly come out and said, oh, the only reason I signed the sales tax increase, the only reason I did this or the only reason I did that was I was forced by a democratic legislature. Here’s a question. What happens if we hold those branches in the legislature and he was governor! What would he do then? Is he just going to sign everything? Here’s a good example. The first day Chet Culver is governor, a bill he signs increases the minimum wage. The first day Terry Branstad is governor, he signs a sales tax increase.

Glover: Mr. Strawn, somehow we morphed from the legislature back to the governor's race.

Strawn: I’m going to take a little bit different tactic and answer your question.

Glover: Please do.

Strawn: And this is one of the true success stories of the Republican Party in the Republican Party in the state right now. Let’s take a look -- we'll start with the Iowa house. There’s a tremendous opportunity to win back the republican majority. Kraig Paulsen and his team have essentially lapped legislative democrats in fund-raising, have about a 2-1 cash-on-hand advantage. They have candidates in 88 of 100 house seats. I think the democrats are around 70. But more important than just the sheer number is let's look at the districts. The most democrat district held by a republican is Rod Roberts' district in Carroll. Democrats don't even have a candidate in that district. Don’t even have a candidate in Mike May’s open seat. They don't even have a candidate in Jodi Tymeson's open seat over in the Winterset area, areas that can traditionally be swing districts.

Borg: Kay, quick question.

Henderson: Gentlemen, we'll have a lot of time to discuss the general election. Let’s talk about Iowa’s caucuses because there have been some developments in retaining Iowa’s --

Kiernan: This is where we get along. This is where we agree.

Henderson: You're going to agree on something? My goodness. Write this down. Mr. Kiernan, is the Iowa caucus assured of being first in 2012?

Kiernan: This is where chairman Strawn and I have closely worked together. I just came off of a meeting about two weeks ago with the rules and bylaws committee at the Democratic National Convention -- or DNC meeting in Washington, D.C. Excuse me. And there was an important first step, which we secured those pre-window states, and Iowa is one of those pre-window states. Is it a locked deal? No. We still have to stay diligent. We have another meeting going forward in July. Mr. Strawn has done an outstanding job at keeping Iowa first as well. This is an area we work well together at.

Glover: Mr. Strawn, same question to you. Republican caucuses are all set?

Strawn: Well, it takes eternal vigilance. And, you know, as your viewers may know, coming out of the 2008 republican convention, there was a committee that was set up at the RNC to take a look at the presidential primary calendar. And kind of the overarching goal was let's put some stability in this so the candidates know when the states are going to go and in what order. Fortunately the initial draft recommendations have Iowa as one of the four carve-out states that mirror what the DNC and Chairman Kiernan did at their rules committee. We have to formally approve those draft rules at our august meeting in Kansas City.

Glover: Well, won't it inevitably come down to the quadrennial primary scramble, other states jumping forward? Is there any way to prevent that?

Strawn: Well, in the republican plan, of course, we can withhold delegates. And, you know, it makes it very difficult for a state that chooses to jump ahead of the line.

Borg: Gentlemen, I’m going to take advantage of this pause to say we're out of time. Thanks so much for being here.

Kiernan: Hey, thank you, Dean. Appreciate it.

Strawn: Thank you.

Borg: Well, that's this weekend's edition, a lively one, of Iowa Press. We’ll be back next weekend, usual times, 7:30 Friday night and 11:30 Sunday morning. And a reminder too. The lower part of your screen right now is showing the address where you can communicate directly with our Iowa Press staff. It’s We’d like to hear from you. I’m Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us today.

Tags: campaign 2010 Democrats elections Iowa Iowa Democratic Party Chairs Matt Strawn Michael Kiernan politics primaries Republican Party of Iowa Chair Republicans