Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair as candidates for the Republican presidential nomination visited the state on Aug. 15, 2023. (Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Three more Republican presidential candidates spoke to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday in the Iowa State Fair’s second week.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Texas pastor Ryan Binkley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott met with Reynolds for “fair-side chats.”
The fair in Des Moines is a must-stop for most presidential candidates. Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis competed for attention, gathering hundreds for their fair stops Saturday. State fair attendance topped 118,000, compared to just over 113,000 on the first Saturday of the 2022 fair.
On Thursday and Friday, presidential hopefuls including former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum spoke on issues from the 2020 election results to carbon capture pipelines during their fair appearances.
Later in the week, more 2024 hopefuls will hold fair events — businessman Perry Johnson and former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd will speak with Reynolds Friday, and Hurd will speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox the same day. Hutchinson and libertarian Chase Oliver will take the Soapbox stage Saturday.
Here’s what presidential candidates were saying at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday:
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott praises Iowa private school scholarship program
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott praised Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in a “fair-side chat” at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday for her Education Savings Account program.
“Every child in every ZIP code deserves quality education, and perhaps no state is doing it better than the state of Iowa,” Scott said to cheers.
The South Carolina Republican said the ESA program was a “monumental school choice” win.
Reynolds signed the program into law in January. It provides an account of $7,635 per student to pay for private school tuition and related costs. Eligible students include incoming kindergartners and current public K-12 students, as well as current private-school students with a family income of 300% or below the federal poverty line.
Earlier in August, the state Department of Education announced more than 18,000 of the 29,025 students who applied for an Education Savings Account have been approved.
Scott said as someone who was raised by a single mother in poverty, he understands the need for quality education. He said he also wants to support public education, but that he believes “competition” will make all schools better.
“And so when your governor passes monumental school choice, making it easier for parents all over the state to have school choice, it gets my attention,” Scott said. “And frankly, I celebrate her success, and frankly, our success as a state of the nation. Education is the closest thing to magic. The good news about America, our future is not dependent on the color of your skin is dependent on the quality of your education.”
On issues like education as well as tax cuts, Scott said that he wanted to bring conservative values like those emulated in Iowa to Washington, D.C., if elected president.
“Restoring hope means doing what Gov. Reynolds has done as governor,” Scott said.
Ryan Binkley calls for Republicans to grow party base to win elections
Ryan Binkley, a Texas pastor and businessman running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, called for the GOP to advance “a Republican alternative to socialism” to compete with Democrats’ messaging.
Speaking with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at a “fair-side chat” Tuesday, Binkley said Republicans need to be more involved in national discussions on health care, education and immigration than party leaders have in the past. He said roughly 40% of Americans are members of a racial minority, according to data from the U.S. Census, and that Republicans need to update their messaging to represent the changing country.
“When I was in college, I used to sell computers for IBM, I’d show them and demonstrate it — and we thought we were pretty good back in 1989,” Binkley said. “Until this company called Apple showed up. Anybody heard of them? Anyway, they started thinking about the next generation. This is what we need to do: start thinking ahead what’s coming down the pike. How is our message relevant to minorities, to urban America, to college students.”
Binkley also spoke at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox Saturday, where he called for America to take up a “love your neighbor” movement to bridge political divides. He called for changes to the Republican Party and said Republicans contributed to problems like inflation and the country’s debt.
“Most people I’ve talked to in Iowa, they don’t know about exactly our debt or credit or now why inflation is here,” he said. “But inflation is here because of bad spending habits, which Republicans — including President Trump … I’m not going to knock him on the good things, he did a lot of good things — but we went $7.5 trillion in debt under his four years. A lot of it was COVID, but not all of it. And then of course, we’re doing the same thing now.”
The “divisive platform” some other candidates running for the 2024 GOP nomination are touting will not win Republicans the White House, Binkley said. He said that “regardless (of) if you think it was stolen,” Trump won 47% of the vote in the 2020 general election, and that the Republican nominee needs to help the part grow its base to at least 50% of the vote.
That will be possible with a Republican presidential nominee who can show all Americans how their lives can improve with smaller government, a balanced budget and “liberty that matters,” he said.
“Most of my counterparts, I love a lot of things they stand for,” Binkley said. “But going farther right, going farther, harder and fighting and vilifying the left, is not going to win the middle. And at the end of the day, we have to recognize that we have to not compromise our message. We have to communicate our message.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announces plans for state-based visa program
The 2024 presidential candidate announced a policy proposal to move from the current federal immigration system to a state system. States could set their own requirements and quotas for workers and immigrants to fulfill their individual needs.
“If you in Iowa say you need to have health care workers, or that you need to have agricultural workers that’s more permanent, or if you … want to concentrate on the biotech arena, you can say, ‘this is our priority,’ ” Hutchinson said. “We need to have a visa program that would bring that kind of talent or workforce here into Iowa.”
Hutchinson said the state programs would still have security and law enforcement requirements, but that it would “relieve pressure on the border” and give more authority to the states. Reynolds said she appreciated his proposal, saying that smaller states like Iowa that face workforce shortages, have a unique view of the immigration system.
“I appreciate that because we’re on the ground, we know what we need — it’s not a one size fits all,” Reynolds said. “… We were just saying, you know, ‘give us the opportunity, provide a waiver,’ this is so good, so that we can make those decisions. So I really appreciate that a lot.”
Hutchinson and Reynolds did not discuss former President Donald Trump’s most recent indictment in Georgia Monday that came as part of an investigation into 2020 election interference. However, Hutchinson released a statement late Monday night, saying he expects voters will make “the ultimate decision on the future of our democracy” as the former president faces his fourth indictment.
“Over a year ago, I said that Donald Trump’s actions disqualified him from ever serving as President again,” Hutchinson said in his statement. “Those words are more true today than ever before. I will have additional comments after I review the details of the indictment.
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