- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The heartland still rules. Three cheers and a cautious moo for the first-ever Iowa Agriculture Summit, scheduled for Saturday at the bodacious Iowa fairgrounds near Des Moines — and intended as a showcase for policy, farmlands, bioscience, livestock markets and more. The list of confirmed speakers for the event is also quite bodacious. Ready to talk up agriculture and weigh in on ethanol, cattle and row crops, in no particular order: Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham; Gov. Scott Walker; former Govs. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee; Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. All must do their homework. A sizable spate of Iowa lawmakers and officials will also be present, including Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, Rep. Steve King and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

Though it is intended as a bipartisan event, these folks were invited but are not attending: Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Martin O’Malley, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jim Webb.

The GOP presidential hopefuls each get 20 minutes onstage to answer questions before a thousand very-savvy locals, and will talk shop with Iowa entrepreneur and philanthropist Bruce Rastetter, the official host and one who has repeatedly rejected notions that he’s a political “kingmaker” in the Hawkeye State. The liberal media, meanwhile, will be poised, on the scent and have one paw raised in anticipation.

“Every four years, Iowa becomes an epicenter of American politics, often shaping, and almost always reflecting, national policy movements. Unfortunately, until now, there has not been a forum solely dedicated to matters that directly affect Iowa farmers who feed and fuel not just the country, but the world,” says Mr. Rastetter, who grew up on a 300-acre farm in Iowa Falls, smack dab in the middle of the state.

AND IN SUMMATION

“This revelation follows news that the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign donations while Hillary was secretary of state. It makes you wonder: Did she use the private emails so she could conduct diplomacy and fundraising at the same time?”

— Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, in response to news that Hillary Rodham Clinton may have violated federal correspondence requirements by using her private email to conduct official business as secretary of state.

WHY NANCY REALLY WEPT

“I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States, as part of the P5+1 nations and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the aftermath of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress on Tuesday.

“OBVIOUS REASON Nancy Pelosi dissed Netanyahu Speech — Netanyahu gave shout out to Sen. Harry Reid and not her,” responded PJ Media founder Roger Simon in a tweet.

GO FOR THE GOOD DEAL

Response to the aforementioned speech rained down upon the press within minutes of its conclusion. Some were very dramatic. There were reactions and reactions to the reactions. Some were in complete agreement — or disagreement. And some were matter-of-fact.

“This was a historic speech. It’s clear through its substance that all concerns about this being a political speech were put to rest. Prime Minister Netanyahu was both substantive and convincing,” says Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “The United States and the Obama administration must resist a bad deal. We must have patience and resolve in the pursuit of a good deal that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The facts laid out by Netanyahu are undeniable. Both Democrats and Republicans should stand together and insist that the White House pursue a good deal.”

LESTER HOLT BOLSTERS NBC

NBC News veteran anchorman Lester Holt has upped the ratings at his network while substituting for Brian Williams, currently waiting out his six-month suspension from the job. Nielsen numbers reveal that Mr. Holt draws 10.1 million viewers each night — a rare milestone, and one that rival networks have not reached in eight seasons, according to Ad Age. Mr. Holt has also increased the much-coveted 25-to-54-year-old viewing audience by 6 percent, and NBC now leads CBS and ABC.

As a weekend anchor, Mr. Holt has waited years for such intense national attention, and he has risen to the occasion. But there is some history here. As a 20-year-old, he was first hired in the business by the late Jerry Nachman — a cigar-smoking Brooklyn native and an award-winning, old-school newsman who was editor in chief of the New York Post and news director for multiple NBC and CBS radio and TV affiliates. In 2002 he became vice president and editor in chief of the newly founded MSNBC. All that said, the historical background may lend insight into Mr. Holt’s success — and serve as a primer for all broadcast big shots.

Upon receiving a First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association last year, he cited the wisdom of his old mentor Jerry, who died in 2004 at age 57.

“The most important thing he told me was that the highest calling in what we do is being a reporter, and that has been really the guiding principle throughout my career. You can call [it] any fancy title you want — principal anchor, executive producer, news director — at its essence, we are all reporters. That’s what we should be, that’s what we should aspire to be, and that’s what makes us good at what we do,” Mr. Holt declared.

JUST TO CLARIFY

“Life is a value I learned from my parents, and it’s a value I have cherished every day, predating my time in politics. My policies throughout my career have earned a 100 percent rating with pro-life groups in Wisconsin,” says Gov. Scott Walker in an open letter, noting that his state has defunded Planned Parenthood and prohibited abortion from being covered by health exchange plans.

“As the Wisconsin legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level,” Mr. Walker adds.

“Gov. Walker is making his pro-life convictions concrete in his presidential platform. His commitment to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in Wisconsin and nationally is the best first step for a pro-life candidate and one that is embraced by the nation. This popular legislation has been endorsed by almost every Republican hopeful for 2016,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

POLL DU JOUR

63 percent of Americans approve of an international deal with Iran that would freeze and limit its nuclear programs in exchange for easing sanctions on the nation.

63 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

21 percent overall disapprove of the idea; 25 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall say the U.S. should not go to war with Iran if the nation refuses to negotiate; 37 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

23 percent say the U.S, should go to war; 36 percent of Republicans, 26 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent trust the Iranian government “some” or a “great deal”; 13 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 998 U.S. adults conducted Feb 21-23 and released Friday.

• Baying and mooing to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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