Steve Deace spoke for nearly two hours in Carroll Friday night.
Steve Deace spoke for nearly two hours in Carroll Friday night.
August 19, 2013


Nationally syndicated talk-radio host Steve Deace, an Iowa native who has built a national brand as an in-house critic of the conservative movement, says Democrats are outgunning Republicans on strategy and message.

"Say what you will, the Democrats offer solutions," Deace said.

Meanwhile, the GOP issues statements that come across like sponsors' patches on NASCAR drivers or Scout badges, he said.

Deace, 40, spoke for about two hours to a crowd of 80 people at Santa Maria Winery in Carroll Friday night, an event organized by the Carroll Area Tea Party.

His central theme: Republicans shouldn't get mad with Democrats. They should learn from their opponents' passion.

"We should not be upset," Deace said. "We should be emulating them."

Deace said President Barack Obama and Democrats have developed superior organizing tactics - and they don't shrink from liberal instincts, as too many conservatives do with their own worldviews.

"The side that cares the least about losing always wins," Deace said.

Deace unleashed a torrent of rhetorical fire on American culture's obsession with celebrity, saying it has corrupted politics, turning on its head the foundation of democracy, which is public servants working for the people.

"Why do we rally around these people like they're matinee idols on 'Tiger Beat?'" Deace said.

He said Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, is little more than a handmaiden for the Obama agenda. He joked that Boehner is likely to change his middle name to "cave."

"Congress is less popular than root canals and cockroaches," Deace said.

Deace lives in West Des Moines, but his radio show has a national reach with affiliates in New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Houston, Fresno, Calif., and dozens of other cities. His show airs on WHO-Radio.

"I'm not just a talk-show host, I'm an activist," Deace said.

During his remarks, Deace drew some of the his most sustained applause in complimenting the work of recently elected U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a potential contender for the White House.

"One thing I've realized about Iowans is we value sincerity," Deace said, terming Cruz a "force of nature" who is willing to challenge the system. Deace stopped short of endorsing Cruz, but said he would like to see the Texan run because he can play offense with his principles.

In an interview with The Daily Times Herald, Deace said he plans to seek elected office himself someday (probably governor) but will not run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

"I took a long look at this race," Deace said. "I know a lot of people in the conservative movement around the country that want to support a full-spectrum conservative for the nomination. They view this as a winnable seat."

But Deace said, "In the end, I just didn't get the sense that, frankly, it was something God was calling me to do. And it would probably mean I would have to give up my radio show just at a time it is growing."

What's more, Deace said his show can help several candidates around the nation get elected.

In terms of the rest of the Senate field, Deace said there is a lane for former State Rep. Rod Roberts, a Carroll Republican who now serves as director of the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals. Roberts has said he is mulling a campaign and likely will announce a decision this fall.

"No one would doubt his full-spectrum conservatism," Deace said.

Deace said the Republican Party is struggling with a false debate about whether to moderate positions to a increasingly diverse voting demographic.

"Really, what we need are people who understand the changing demographics and want to update and take our principles and sell them to those changing demographics," Deace said. "That's how you avoid losing your base while trying to reach new people."

He said Roberts understands communication of this sort, but fell short on a key measure in a failed 2010 gubernatorial bid: Roberts didn't give people a reason to vote for him.

"Rod didn't offer a reason other than, 'I'm Rod Roberts and I'm a nice guy,'" Deace said. "What's your plan? It's something you're going to do that shakes things up. Offer people something. And I think that if Rod were to get into the Senate race, and has something along those lines he wants to do and can champions it, I think this race right now, there's an avenue for all kinds of people."

Deace said he expects to the GOP Senate race to go to convention.

He doesn't think a candidate can reach 35 percent in the primary.

Deace reserved some of his strongest comments in the interview for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican he described as a weakened elected official with no worldview or political future beyond her current position.

"Kim has a lot of issues that a lot of Iowa politicos are aware of, beyond simple worldview issues - a lot of stuff that would probably be exposed in a Senate race when this might be the 51st seat in the United States Senate," Deace said. "I'm not in the business of dragging people through stuff publicly. It's just stuff a lot of people know, stuff that would come out."

When asked to elaborate or point out specifics, Deace said, "She has some issues, and I'll just leave it at that."