Monday, March 09, 2015

Most Republican presidential candidates hold forth at Iowa Agricultural Summit

While 11 months remain until the first votes for president, Iowa Republicans had the chance to see the candidates up close and hear what they had to say on all the key issues Saturday at the inaugural Iowa Agricultural Summit.

Present were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Retired physician Ben Carson and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul didn't attend; Paul was getting Kentucky Republican leaders to start planning a caucus so he can run for re-election as well as president.

One of the main issues addressed was immigration. Bush, taking a stand not necessarily popular with caucus-goers, said "undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. need a path to legalization," Chris Clayton reports for DTN The Progressive Farmer. Christie said "current immigration laws should be enforced to make them work," including "improving the H2A guest-worker program and making sure employers use the E-Verify system."

Perry "declared that President Obama and Congress have destroyed any trust that Washington, D.C., can address immigration," Clayton writes. "Perry would put more people and fencing on the southern border as well as ramp up aerial surveillance." Cruz "said there is overwhelming bipartisan agreement about securing the borders. He also thinks there is substantial agreement to improve and streamline legal immigration. Cruz notes he is the son of an immigrant from Cuba who risked everything for freedom."

Politico reporter James Hohmann has a round-up of the event, saying that Walker acted like the front-runner, while Perry did the most to connect with farmers, expressing "concern about falling crop prices and new challenges facing farmers," Hohmann writes. Huckabee separated himself from his competitors on many topics by expressing "skepticism of trade agreements and decrying the outsized power of business in the Republican Party," while Christie fell flat with an unenthusiastic performance and Graham won over the crowd with his outgoing personality, despite being well behind in polls.

The candidates discussed "major agriculture themes not often discussed in presidential elections," Alex Hanson reports for the Iowa State Daily in Ames. The Des Moines Register has in-depth coverage of the event, including news stories, profiles, videos, columns and a ranking of how well each of the candidates performed. Some stories are behind a paywall.

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