- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The heartland still rules - and so does the farm. A dozen GOP presidential hopefuls are headed for the first ever Iowa Agriculture Summit on Saturday at the bodacious Iowa fairgrounds near Des Moines - and intended as a showcase for farmlands, bioscience, agribusiness and livestock markets. Ready to weigh in on ethanol, cattle and row crops: Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Rep. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. All must do their homework. There will be a discerning audience that also includes Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, Rep. Steve King and Gov. Terry Branstad - and a thousand savvy locals.

The would-be candidates each get 20 minutes onstage to answer questions and 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.

“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.

But the Democrats will be waiting for them. Also venturing to Des Moines: Democratic National Committee vice-chairman RT Rybak and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire will also stage a morning press conference with much on their minds.

As each of the potential 2016 GOP candidates attempt to pitch their agriculture credentials to Iowa kingmaker Bruce Rastetter, Rybak and McGuire will highlight how each of their real records would hurt rural communities and middle class families,” the committee advises.

 

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