Strong America Now – a movement to reduce wasteful government spending

February 23, 2011

Photo of Mike George

Mike George, author and former consultant

George is taking his message to the Internet and the Hawkeye State, the stomping ground for many presidential contenders, whom he hopes will be receptive to his ideas.

He is quoted in the Omaha World-Herald saying, ““We can reduce federal spending by $500 billion per year just by waste reduction.”

George also said he believes “Iowa is the lever by which you can move the world.”

Strong America Now, a non-profit organization, is billed as a movement dedicated to mobilizing and educating grassroots activists about the danger of America’s continuing budget deficits and ever-increasing national debt, and offers a solution to which they believe all parties can agree.

Michael L. George is a former consultant with a track record of reducing the costs associated with large corporations and the federal government. Private sector clients of the George Group, a company founded by George in 1986, included Caterpillar, Xerox, Eli Lilly, Alcan, Honeywell/Allied Signal, ITT, and United Technologies among others.

His management methodologies, known as the Lean Six Sigma process, are outlined in a series of books authored by George.

In 2004, the United States Navy selected the George Group to use the Lean Six Sigma process to reduce costs and production cycle time, while improving quality. The U.S. Army followed and currently has 5,000 waste reduction projects underway, contributing to an annual cost savings of $100 billion, according to statement made by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.

In 2007, George retired and sold his company to Accenture, relinquishing commercial interests in Lean Six Sigma. His aim now has turned to sharing his expertise with members of Congress and groups across the county that will listen.

For more details, visit: http://strongamericanow.com

Mike George, founder of Strong America Now, was in Council Bluffs Feb. 16, touting the message that government needs to target wasteful spending, not cut programs. He thinks its a message that can help draw Republicans and Democrats together in taking steps to reign in the national deficit.


A look back at the 2008 election and Secretary Vilsack’s role

February 23, 2011

Photo of Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

It was exactly four years ago today, Feb. 23, 2007, that then former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) announced he was getting out of the 2008 presidential race due to monetary constraints. Vilsack had also been the first to enter the race as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States, officially filing papers with the FEC to form his presidential campaign committee Nov. 9, 2006.

Vilsack kicked off his campaign Nov. 30, 2006; considered a long-shot candidate. However, Vilsack often repeated that when it came to elections he often started as an underdog, but that he had yet to lose a race.

But after just three months, the campaign was over, never really gaining much traction. He never placed any staff on the ground in New Hampshire, the first and a key primary election state. A senior campaign official said at the time the campaign simply could not keep up with the campaign funds that rivals like Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were raising.

Shortly after ending his 2008 bid for the White House, Vilsack endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and was named the national co-chair for Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton placed third in the Iowa Democratic caucus to Obama and Edwards. Following the final primaries on June 3, 2008, Obama had gained enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee. In a speech before her supporters on June7, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama.

On Dec. 17, 2008, then President-Elect Barack Obama announced Vilsack’s selection to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack’s nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent Jan. 20, 2009. Vilsack’s appointment was rumored to be part of the “deal” the Clintons had brokered when Hillary reluctantly conceded the Democratic Presidential nomination to Obama.

Vilsack served as the 40th Governor of the State of Iowa, first elected in 1998 and then re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002.

Tom Vilsack is not a native son of the state of Iowa. He was born in Pittsburgh, PA, abandoned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted by Bud Vilsack, a real-estate agent and insurance salesman, and Dolly Vilsack, a homemaker.

He attended a preparatory high school in Pittsburgh, and received his Bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Hamilton College in New York, and Juris Doctor in 1975 from the Albany Law School.

Vilsack met his future wife, Ann Christine “Christie” Bell, while at college in New York. The couple were married Aug. 18, 1973, in Bell’s hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The couple moved to Mount Pleasant in 1975, where Tom Vilsack joined his father-in-law in law practice.

Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant in 1987; and elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992.

Tom Vilsack narrowly won the 1998 gubernatorial general election; it was the first time in 30 years that a Democrat was elected Governor of Iowa. Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) preceded Vilsack, having served 16 consecutive years as governor. Governor Branstad was reelected to the post in the 2010 election.

For most of Vilsack’s tenure as governor, Republicans held majorities in the Iowa General Assembly. Following the Nov. 2, 2004, elections, the Senate was nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans held a 51–49 majority in the House of Representatives.

In 2001, Vilsack served as a Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association; and he was chair of the Democratic Governors Association in 2004. In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic governors. Vilsack left office in 2007; he did not seek a third term as governor.


Iowa conservative talk show host Steve Deace’s next move uncertain

February 15, 2011
Photo of Steve Deace

Former WHO Radio broadcaster and host of "Deace in the Afternoon"

Steve Deace, a popular and opinionated talk show host, resigned his position with News Radio WHO-AM in Des Moines in January.  His controversial and politically charged program, “Deace in the Afternoon,” ended last Friday.

Deace’s departure is raising speculations about his future.  No clear answers were offered on what that future might hold, Deace only said it was time for him to pursue other opportunities and the decision to leave was of his own accord.

But Deace also said he hopes to have a book published later this year and has been approached about pursuing politics, including a possible role in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.  Or he might be interested in reentering broadcasting at a later date.

As a Republican and Evangelical conservative political operative, Deace could be extremely helpful to a Republican candidate seeking a victory in the first-in-the-nation presidential contest. Deace was a force in the state GOP elections last November and has built a considerable following through his radio program. 

Deace, 37, resides in West Des Moines with his wife, Amy, and their three children.


CPAC comes to a close, Rep. Ron Paul wins straw poll

February 13, 2011

U.S. Congressman Ron Paul

The 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which drew thousands of conservative activists to Washington, D.C. over the past three days, has wrapped up. Although the Iowa caucuses will be the first state test of the nominating fight about a year from now, most of the GOP’s presidential prospects tried to impress as many of the nation’s most active conservatives as they could during the conference.

The conference is sponsored by the American Conservative Union. It dates to 1973, when then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan was the featured speaker to an audience of about 125.

CPAC has grown substantially in numbers since 1973, and become a place where economic and social conservatives come together in search of common ground, as key constituencies in the Republican Party. Nearly 10,000 Republican strategists, vendors and activists from around the country were in attendance.

Familiar Republicans spoke at the conference, including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New Hampshire Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Herman Cain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Iowa Rep. Steve King also played a visible part in the conference, speaking to the general audience and serving as a participant in forums on immigration and tax policy.

After former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson supporters suggested he was snubbed at CPAC for supporting gay rights and marijuana legalization, Johnson scored a last-minute speaking invitation.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee did not attend CPAC due to scheduling conflicts.

A key feature of the conference is the Presidential Straw Poll, which this year included the names of 15 Republicans. Winning the greatest number of votes was U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, he garnered 30 percent. Paul finished ahead of Mitt Romney getting 23 percent, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christi and Gary Johnson each receiving 6 percent.

The Texas congressman, a libertarian-thinking Republican, earned an ardent following in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries.

While straw polls don’t always match up with results of presidential primaries, they do take the political temperature of those who participate. Paul’s message of smaller government apparently resonated with conference-goers, as their number one issue, according to the poll results, was the size and role of government. In the January 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, Mike Huckabee received the greatest number of delegates, followed by Mitt Romney, John McCain and Ron Paul.


Iowa firm to serve as Santorum PAC adviser

January 30, 2011

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has announced that he has hired a veteran Des Moines consulting firm, Concordia Group LLC, to serve as adviser to his political action committee as he explores whether to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and compete in the Iowa caucuses. Santorum has already made nine trips to Iowa.

Key advisers with Concordia Group LLC are its founder and president Nicholas “Nick” T. Ryan and Jill Latham, a principal at the firm. Both have vast experience in politics and the Iowa caucuses.

Ryan served as top aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) from 1999-2006, and ran three successful congressional campaigns in Eastern Iowa. He is also the founder of the American Future Fund, a multistate conservative advocacy group.

Latham was Iowa political director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. She’s worked on Capitol Hill and on President Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. She also served as political director of the Republican Party on Wisconsin from 2005-2006.

I am extremely pleased to have Nick and Jill on board to assist with my PAC’s efforts in Iowa and across the country. They have a proven track record of building grassroots support for candidates and conservative causes. As I continue to consider a run in 2012, they will play a critical role in helping determine if we are able to build the necessary support to embark on a possible run,” said Senator Santorum.


New Hampshire: Retaining their first-in-the-nation presidential primary status

December 26, 2010

New Hampshire election buttonReaders have asked: How is New Hampshire able to retain its first-in-the-nation status in the presidential primary election process?

The answer: Because James R. Splaine (D-Portsmouth, NW) sponsored a law in 1975 that evolved in a way to give the New Hampshire secretary of state the power to schedule the election seven days or more before a similar election. And over the years, the secretary of state has carried out the law, while respecting Iowa’s caucuses as being the first contest of the campaign.

Splaine is a former representative in the New Hampshire State House of Representatives (1969-1970, 1973-1978, 1993-1996, 1999-2008).

In 2006, the Democratic National Committee was toying with the idea of placing the Nevada caucus and perhaps the South Carolina primary between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner was quick to put the word out that his state’s law and tradition of being first-in-the-nation would not be compromised. In January 2010, the New Hampshire General Assembly added a single sentence to their state law to codify the tradition of being first in the nation and make it clear to other primary states that they are mandated by law to move ahead of any other presidential primary event, other than Iowa. That sentence was: “The purpose of this section is to protect the tradition of the New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary.” The change in the law was effective Aug. 8, 2010.

New Hampshire Code section 653:9 Presidential Primary Election. “The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is seven days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous. Said primary shall be held in connection with the regular March town meeting or election or, if held on any other day, at a special election called by the secretary of state for that purpose. The purpose of this section is to protect the tradition of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”


Debate to Air on ABC Between Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary

December 19, 2010

ABC News and WMUR-TV (ABC’s Hearst-owned affiliate in Manchester, NH) are joining forces to host a Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary in 2012. The debate will be held at a critical juncture in the Republican nomination process, just before the primary season begins. The specific date and time of this debate will be determined once the dates for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have been determined. The debate will air locally on WMUR-TV and nationally on the ABC Television Network, and streamed live on ABCNews.com and WMUR.com.

ABC News and WMUR-TV co-hosted back-to-back Democratic and Republican presidential debates in 2008. According to ABC News, more than 9 million viewers across the country tuned in to watch the Democratic debate and 7.35 million the Republican debate.

The days between Iowa and New Hampshire have often been make-or-break for candidates and we look forward to putting the crucial questions of the day to the contenders for the Republican nomination,” said incoming ABC News President Ben Sherwood.

For a complete listing of other scheduled debates, visit the “Key dates” section of this site.