Archive for June 17, 2009
Grassley Challenger Krause Talks to BFIA about
Veterans, Gay Rights and Progressivism (Part I)
Blog for Iowa spent a couple of hours on the phone with the (so far unchallenged) Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Bob Krause of Fairfield. Today in the first of a three-part series, we review his background, including what it was like to be an ROTC student on campus at the University of Iowa during the 70's, why he is running for the U.S. Senate, as well as his opinions on issues of interest to Iowans.
The campaign has issued position statements and press releases on
several topics, including: Health care (supports public option);
Grassley's efforts to take credit for the stimulus package; and Tammy
Duckworth's nomination for Assistant Secretary at the US Department of
Veterans Affairs. Check out KrauseforIowa.com for more info.
BFIA: Describe for Blog for Iowa readers the process that you went
through in deciding to declare your candidacy for United States Senate.
BK: It was an evolutionary thing. I've been either in the frontline of
politics or in the background for quite a number of years. I've been on
the state central committee for almost 6 years and I have worked with
various institutions within the party and legislative campaign
organizations, and am currently chair of the IDVC (Iowa Democratic
The IDVC organization was created in large part because of some very
thorough staffing work by John Kerry five years ago, but later it
started going stale, and there were parts of the state that weren't
covered very well. Also, there were a number of proposals to help
campaigns help us identify veterans in order to get the word out on
what the Democrats were doing with and for the veterans – and we were
hitting brick walls. I decided at that point that the only way to get
the Democratic veterans better organized in Iowa is if we found a
candidate that was enthusiastic, interested in veterans, and was
willing to invest the time and resources identifying those people, and
I looked around and I was really the only person in a position to run.
So that was the core of it and today it is the base of my campaign.
We've got a base of about 10,000 people around the state. The veterans
that I've worked with have been very loyal and cooperative and so
they've allowed me to build a base that would be hard to duplicate. The
next step is further expanding that base.
Even though Grassley has been perceived as being an insurmountable
giant, there's enough people out there that he has voted against
consistently over the years, that there's a potential for a fairly
large coalition. Looking at his votes on medical care for disabled
American veterans – literally a 70% anti-disabled American veterans
voting record – it's like taking an apple pie and using it for a
frisbee. Then he came out for the flag burning amendment to be patriotic. That one really hit me pretty hard. It's an
emotional thing and it angered me.
But there are other places where
Senator Grassley – especially as we get closer to election time – waves
the banner of bi-partisanship, such as proclaiming his work with Max Baucus, a conservative Democrat, as bipartisan, and it's just not the case. We've seen
time and time again in the Senate since the Obama administration has
started, that the proposals will come out of the House, they'll be very
people-oriented, then they get to the Senate, and the wall of forty
holds back the tide and Grassley never really diverts from that wall of
BFIA: As you know, Blog for Iowa is a progressive blog. Do you consider yourself a progressive?
I do. I've always looked to heroes in my life. I would look to Harold
Hughes, I would look to Harry Truman, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt. Those
people as I was growing up I thought were great Americans, great
statesmen, and they had a vision of America that I agreed with. They
were the people that I would look up to. When I sent you the revised
file I tried to put a little bit of my philosophy in that.
BFIA: Your press releases make you sound like a progressive….
BK: Well, it comes from the heart…
BFIA: …but I just didn't know if you would call yourself a progressive…
BK: I think it has been dangerous to call yourself a
progressive or liberal…liberal has been besmirched by Rush
Limbaugh….there was a great deal of money that was spent to try to
hang that word out to dry in the late 70's and 80's and by and large it
was successful and it hamstrung us as a party. It was like a
hand-grenade right in the middle of our philosophy.
BFIA: And it was the right that framed the issues, and then we were stuck with that frame.
BK: The conservatives ran the agenda – but now they don't and it's a
wonderful thing. For the first time since I was a very young man, the
ball is in our court, but getting back to that definition in the bio
that I sent you, I quote from the book of proverbs and I can't remember
the chapter or verse although it is in the bio and it essentially is
that it is possible to hold on too tightly to things and lose
everything but the liberal man shall be rich. He that waters others
waters himself, and I think that is a statement of my faith and a
statement of how I perceive myself, that I want to give because when
you give in life we are always enriched.
BFIA: What newspapers and websites do you go to for your news?
BK: Actually, they are probably more conservative than you'd think. I go
to some of the mainstream ones, CNN; I go to Drudge report, I go to
Bloomberg, Financial Times, the Economist. Local blogs I have just
gotten into, yours, Iowa Independent, the Des Moines Register. Huffpo,
Dailykos, I look at them but they're sometimes hard for me to get
into – I'm a snippet person (laughter). I want to go in and see a
headline and then I want to back out. They don't snippet well on
BFIA: …No they don't… they're definitely not snippet people…
BK: Yeah, so that would be kind of the short version of that.
BFIA: What is your opinion of the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling striking down Iowa's ban on gay marriage?
BK: Well, it has become the law of the land and it is the result of a
very progressive phrase in the Iowa Constitution that's been there
since 1857 when our Constitution was put together – this is the first
time anyone's ever asked me that question during the campaign. The only
other question that was even close to that was when I was asked at the
2nd District Central Committee meeting, about a week or so ago about
the don't-ask-don't-tell policy [of the military]. I have explicitly
stated that I think it's time we stopped it. It was probably necessary
politically as a transitional policy, but I think society has changed.
I think we have lost some very good people from the military because of
One thing that is kind of unique for a progressive Democrat is to have
an extensive military background. When I was a young man and going to
the U of I through ROTC, being in the military was not popular. My dad
had served, my uncles had served, and I just thought it was part of my
duty to the country, even though it was a strange time. Then I became
an officer, and at the time there were fewer than 7% of the officers
corp in the Army that claimed to be a Democrat, about 70% claimed to be
Republican and the rest were independent. It was kind of a scary
phenomenon, when the warrior class of society was that heavily toward
one party, not with the rest of the country, so I got some of the pain
that went with that. I'm proud to have done it and proud to have
survived through that. I think if anything, in my little universe, I
helped add some balance to the system that was necessary at the time.
But to answer your other question in terms of gay marriage, yes, it's
the law of the land, it's in the state Constitution. At the federal
level where my policy hat is, it's traditionally covered by the
interstate commerce clause that says states honor the social laws and
compacts of other states…so we accept the legality of the document
and historically, it's not been an issue that the federal government
gets into. And I think at this point with the evolution of society
maybe that's the way to go, you have the states make their individual
decisions as in the case of Iowa and I support the Constitution of Iowa.
sure and check this space next Wednesday, June 23, for Part II where we
will find out more about the candidate including his thoughts on
President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, what he
does at his day job working for a defense contractor, and CAFOs.