Lindsey Says Hello
“This doesn’t sell in Iowa.”
That was the message South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham brought to Des Moines, Iowa, to describe the Democratic candidates’ policies while visiting last weekend. On Friday night, Graham spoke at the Lincoln Reagan Dinner, and on Saturday, he spoke to a room full of 50 Drake College Republicans. The senator is not unfamiliar with Iowa, as he spent time traveling around the state in 2015 as a presidential candidate before dropping out only weeks before the 2016 Iowa Caucus.
The Lincoln Reagan Dinner is the Republican Party of Iowa’s equivalent to last week’s Liberty and Justice Dinner put on by the Democratic Party of Iowa. While the Republican version had less of a showing this year, 2020 was not far from the minds of every speaker. Lindsey Graham, Joni Ernst, and Chuck Grassley all took turns speaking and each sprinkled in anecdotes of their approval of President Trump.
Even with all the presidential praise sprouting throughout this visit, when Graham was visiting Iowa in 2015, then-candidate Trump was not a fan of Graham. At a campaign event Trump gave out Graham’s phone number to the crowd, Graham called Trump a “jackass”, and Graham compared choosing between a Cruz and Trump endorsement to picking between “being shot or poisoned.” Those tensions were not felt during this trip to Iowa, however; instead, Graham has accepted Trump’s presidency saying, “I like him and he likes him.”
Graham’s event at Drake took place across campus from a Climate Summit hosted by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He used that opportunity to talk about 2020 and to draw a contrast between Republican and Democratic policy. Graham told attendees that socialist policies wouldn’t work in Iowa and that it is Iowa’s job to stop radical candidates, like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, from gaining a footing. He went on to dive into the flaws he saw in plans such as Medicare for all, open borders, and the Green New Deal. Graham was confident that these policies will fail in the minds of Iowa voters.
Graham also used his Drake visit to express disappointment in the recent Drake Student Senate decision to deny Turning Point USA student organization status. Few universities in the country have the connections and political savvy to have a United States senator help in the campaign against a student senate’s denial of conservative groups on campus. Graham said that when student senators refuse the opportunity to let a group organize, it deteriorates civility.
Graham used both events as a call to action for Republican activists and college students. He called on Republicans to fight for Iowa in the upcoming election, calling it “the front line of freedom.” Graham added, “your grandkids are going to ask you where were you in the war of 2020, you are going to respond that you were in Iowa, and you kicked their [expletive].