Dueling political buses roll through Carroll
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal offered strong criticism of President Barack Obama during a conservative rally in Carroll Wednesday evening. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Rising Republican star and potential 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, the 41-year-old governor of Louisiana, headlined a Carroll event Wednesday evening aimed at ousting an Iowa Supreme Court justice for signing onto a decision that paved the way for legalized gay marriage in Iowa.
About 100 people gathered around the outdoor shelterhouse at Southside Park to hear remarks from Jindal and a collection of other social conservatives urging a “no” vote on the retention of state Supreme Court Judge David Wiggins.
Jindal said Wiggins should step down from the bench and seek legislative office.
“Some of these judges, their decisions, their biases, their judicial activism, has gotten so bad they made those replacement refs in the NFL look like geniuses,” Jindal said.
Bob Vander Plaats, a former GOP candidate for governor and state chairman of Iowans for Freedom, said the “No Wiggins” bus tour planned 17 stops, with Carroll being the 13th. Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum traveled with the bus for part of the tour but did not make the Carroll event.
Vander Plaats said gay marriage has changed the foundation of Iowa’s culture, and that judges he referred to as “arrogant” could very well issue additional rulings that affect life here if they are not stopped in their tracks with the retention vote.
“They won’t even second-guess themselves when they take away your gun rights,” Vander Plaats said.
Vander Plaats dismissed the argument that it’s unfair to remove a judge based on a single decision, as such cases can be history defining.
“Dred Scott was one opinion,” Vander Plaats said of the 1857 U.S. Supreme Court case. “That said blacks are property.”
Jindal spent the majority of his speech criticizing President Barack Obama, saying the economy has not improved measurably under the Democratic commander in chief.
“I think President Obama has done his best,” Jindal said. “I just don’t think his best is good enough.”
Jindal sought to paint Obama as out of touch culturally with Iowans. The governor mocked a 2008 gaffe by President Obama who was unknowingly taped at a San Francisco fund-raiser analyzing the motivations of some rural and Rust Belt voters who weren’t with him. “It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” said then-Sen. Obama.
Jindal said perhaps the president doesn’t think Iowans or Louisianans are smart enough to catch the meaning of the remarks.
“As governor of the great state of Louisiana I am proud that we are clinging to our guns and our religion,” Jindal said.
He added, “We got plenty of guns and plenty of religion in our state, and we’re proud of both.”
As the “No Wiggins” bus departed, a shadow bus sponsored by the Iowa State Bar Association rolled out its program, a spirited defense of Wiggins and the preservation of an independent judiciary peopled by judges who don’t have to raise campaign cash or see their careers crushed by politically unpopular decisions. Only about a dozen of the 100 people who largely cheered Jindal and Vander Plaats remained to hear comments from Carroll attorney Jim Van Dyke and Dan Moore, a Sioux City attorney who ironically served as a treasurer and secretary in Vander Plaats’ gubernatorial bids.
Van Dyke said Wiggins is “a man of integrity.”
Moore, a Republican who said his friendship with Vander Plaats has been strained as the two find themselves on opposite sides of a high-profile issue, urged voters not to be tricked into undermining the separation of powers in Iowa.
“What kind of court system do we want?” Moore said.
Should Vander Plaats’ forces prevail the fairness and impartiality of the courts will be threatened as the positions will become politically super-charged.
“The voice of reason will rise above all of us this noise and be heard,” Moore said.
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