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Ensign Adds To Iowa Itinerary
National Journal ^ | Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Erin McPike and James A. Barnes

Posted on 05/14/2009 8:51:43 PM PDT by iowamark

Nevada Senator's June Trip Is Raising Talk Of 2012

Sen. John Ensign's June 1 trip to Iowa is looking more and more like a day straight out of a White House hopeful's itinerary, a sign that the 2012 campaign is already under way in the Hawkeye State, which hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

The Nevada Republican is flying into Sioux Falls on the last day of the Memorial Day recess before a four-week work period in Congress. He has three stops scheduled before he heads back to the nation's capital: an address on behalf of the American Future Fund's conservative lecture series in Sioux City, a tour of an agricultural research facility in Sioux Center and a meet-and-greet at an ice cream parlor in Le Mars.

Western Iowa is a GOP bastion in a state that has been trending Democratic of late and is typically a key battleground in the GOP caucuses. The Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, where Ensign will host the meet-and-greet, was a frequent stop for caucus contenders in 2008 and has seen many White House hopefuls over the years.

It was AFF that expanded Ensign's visit by adding the two other stops on his behalf. Said AFF spokesman Tim Albrecht, "We thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce him to Iowans on the way to his lecture." He added, "He's a rising star, and a leader within the conservative movement, so it was only natural to highlight his strong record of service to the people of Northwest Iowa."

Ensign is not the first Republican could-be candidate who has visited Iowa this year. On April 22, former New York Gov. George Pataki gave a speech at Drake University in Des Moines that was also hosted by AFF. The former governor confided to at least one Republican activist on the trip that he was still interested in seeking the presidency, even though he terminated his political action committee, the 21st Century Freedom PAC, in February. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another Republican with his eyes on 2012, paid the state a visit last November.

"Anytime they come to Iowa, there is a reason," said party activist Danny Carroll, who co-chaired the successful 2008 GOP caucus campaign of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"The 2012 presidential campaign is starting," agreed veteran Iowa GOP operative Richard Schwarm, who was a senior adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 campaign in the state and George W. Bush's efforts there in 2000. Schwarm observed that trips like Ensign's benefit all involved: The potential candidates gain stature, GOP activists in the state are energized and funds are generated for local party organizations and Iowa businesses. And Schwarm added that forays like this "give journalists something to talk about."

Indeed, Nevada reporters have expressed an interest in traveling to Iowa with the junior senator to chronicle his inaugural visit to the state.

Despite the campaign overtones of the trip, Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola stressed, "This will in no way take away from Ensign's duties as a senator for Nevada or as Republican Policy Committee chairman." In fact, Mazzola said the trip will only enhance the senator's work as policy chairman by showing that Republicans have a lot of good ideas in their arsenal.

Scott Bensing, a partner in the Nevada political consulting firm November Inc. and a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee under Ensign, is advising the senator on the visit.

"Yes, it is under way and never stops," joked Iowa GOP strategist David Roederer, who chaired the 2008 caucus campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Roederer said he doubts "anyone" has heard of Ensign in Iowa, making the trip all the more important. "This is what a presidential candidate should do," he said.

Still, the presidential buzz can be distracting, and Roederer joked about the reticence some pols have about venturing to the state: "I don't know if potential candidates are afraid people will think they are running for president by coming to Iowa or think they are coming to Iowa to get married."

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Iowa; US: Nevada
KEYWORDS: 2012gopprimary; ensign; ia2012; johnensign
Senator Ensign is a veterinarian. He was elected to the US House in 1994. He is believed to have defeated Sen. Harry Reid in 1998 before Reid found some extra votes on an Indian reservation. He was elected to the Senate in 2000 and re-elected in 2006 over Jimmy Carter's son.

Everyone agrees that he is pretty solidly conservative. A member of the Foursquare Gospel Church.

1 posted on 05/14/2009 8:51:44 PM PDT by iowamark
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To: iowamark

From Iowa state Rep. Christopher Rants:

“”Ensign to Iowa
Conservatives need to make their voice heard – and there is no better place than right here in Iowa to make that happen.

After all, we’re the heartland of the country, and our state is in the spotlight every four years for the presidential caucuses.

That’s why we wanted you to know about an exclusive event coming up on June 1!

One of the nation’s leading conservative minds, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, is making his first visit to the state – and you’re invited to this free event!

He will be appearing in Sioux City, at the Wilbur Aalfs Downtown Library at 7 p.m. for American Future Fund’s latest Conservative Lecture Series installment. If it’s anything like the first Lecture, which was featured on Sean Hannity’s show, this promises to be a really fun event. You can watch that clip HERE.

Please let us know if you can make it. While an RSVP is not required, it will help us reserve the correct number of seats. You can do so by calling (515) 720-5250, emailing or via

If you cannot make it to the above event, please consider visiting with him at the Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars! He’ll be there for a meet-and-greet at 3 p.m.

We hope you’ll be able to join us as we welcome a rising star in the national conservative movement right here to Iowa!

Check out the media coverage we’ve gotten on the event so far!””

2 posted on 05/14/2009 8:58:15 PM PDT by iowamark (certified by Michael Steele as "ugly and incendiary")
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To: iowamark

[Everyone agrees that he is pretty solidly conservative. A member of the Foursquare Gospel Church. ]

I’m from Nevada, have met Ensign a few times and heard him speak, I know one of his aids. John is a total lightweight, laughable as a presidential candidate.
Has nice hair and looks good and does vote okay, but the bulb is set on dim.

He also seems to get along a little too well with Harry.

3 posted on 05/14/2009 9:07:26 PM PDT by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: FastCoyote

let me echo that. I too am from Nevada and have met the Senator several times. While he is generally solidly conservative, he refuses to attack Reid and I doubt he would put himself through the personal glare of a presidential campaign. He seems to be a fairly private politician. Either that or he practices an imperial style of government. When lobbying his office, we are always chumped off on junior staffers, even when we travel to D.C. to meet with him. In terms of personality I agree he just doesn’t project presidential timber. He does maintain nice hair though. Our answer to John Edwards...

4 posted on 05/14/2009 9:37:27 PM PDT by Crapgame (What should be taught in our schools? American Exceptionalism, not cultural Marxism...)
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To: Crapgame

let’s cream the rats in 10 before any of this happens in 12.
Fewer rats, more joy.

5 posted on 05/14/2009 9:55:30 PM PDT by genghis
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To: genghis

I hope that there ARE future elections throughout the U.S.!

6 posted on 05/14/2009 11:06:38 PM PDT by johnthebaptistmoore (Conservatives obey the rules. Leftists cheat. Who probably has the political advantage?)
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To: FastCoyote
I know one of his aids

I hope you meant aides

7 posted on 05/15/2009 1:15:52 AM PDT by byteback (nothing says "progressive" like repeating the mistakes of the past)
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To: byteback

I know one of his aids
I hope you meant aides

I stand corrected.

8 posted on 05/15/2009 7:06:42 AM PDT by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: Crapgame

Nice to hear your confirmation. I had a really disturbing meeting with him once where he brushed off some corruption (I was later vindicated with the firing of corrupt Bob Loux). Ensign didn’t want to hear about it.

9 posted on 05/15/2009 7:09:11 AM PDT by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: FastCoyote

duly noted. western New Hampshire right-wingers have just checked the ‘NO’ box next to Ensign. Ya almost can’t win without them, us.

10 posted on 06/05/2009 3:00:55 PM PDT by campaignPete R-CT
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