"We're the state that launched Obama, but I think in this election we're the state that's going to sink him," proclaimed Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, in this week's "Face the Nation" Face to Face interview. In 2008 then-Senator Barack Obama took almost 38 percent of voters in the Democratic caucus, besting rivals John Edwards and Hilary Clinton both by about eight percentage points. Obama had a long slough ahead still, but momentum from Iowa helped catapult him into the race. He went on to win the state in the general against John McCain.
Branstad is confident his state won't give the president a "W" this year though. He said Iowans are "very disappointed in the lack of leadership from Washington, D.C." and how the man who campaigned "as a uniter... and really offered hope and change" has only given the country "more spending and debt and gridlock."
Iowa is one of the nine battleground states where Mitt Romney and the president are already duking it out for votes. Iowa is also one of the states that elected a Republican governor in 2010. The 2010 midterm elections were, for the Democrats, what the president called "a shellacking."
Branstad says that all the states that elected Republican governors in 2010 "need a president that's in tune with us, that's going to eliminate some of the federal tax and regulatory burdens, some of the uncertainty."
Branstad sounds confident suggesting that a lot of the states that elected Republican governors in 2010 might go for Romney in 2012. He thinks Gov. Scott Walker's recall election win sends the message that "Wisconsin's in play" and it "could be won." He says he "definitely" feels "good about Iowa. I think Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. All these states that elected Republican governors in 2010." Those states include Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico - all potentially important states for both candidates.
The governor also touched on the state's record in producing alternative energy. He boasted that the state leads the nation in both ethanol and bio-diesel production, and is second-only to Texas in wind production (although per capita, Iowa produces more wind energy than Texas). Branstad points to the renewable energy standard passed in Iowa in 1983 during his first tenure as governor and says that standard "made it possible to grow the wind energy business, and 24 states have copied our law."
Laws like that are one of the things Branstad thinks can be done on a state level to foster development, but he does think "the federal government should also provide some incentives." The corn-producing state of Iowa has been infamously defensive of its ethanol subsidies, but the 30-year-old federal subsidy expired in January of this year and hasn't been a huge topic of the 2012 elections. Branstad says subsidies "shouldn't last forever," but can be good for business.