Governor Branstad today defended his call for Republicans to vote against Texas Senator Ted Cruz in next week’s caucuses.
Branstad objects that Cruz opposes ethanol mandates.
Branstad typically does not endorse candidates in Republican races, and he says he’s sticking to that this year.
“I’m not backing any candidate,” Branstad says. “I'm advocating on behalf of my state and renewable energy which is critically important to our state.”
Branstad has long urged all candidates to come to Iowa early and often. But he says there are limits.
“Come to Iowa but stand for things that are important to our state,” Branstad says.
Iowa Republican congressman Steve King, who backs Cruz, calls the Republican governor’s remarks disappointing. King says Branstad sent his son out to lobby against Cruz.
Eric Branstad heads a pro-ethanol lobbying group.
Branstad says he doesn’t believe his criticism of Cruz will keep candidates from coming here.
“I’ve gone to various events,” Branstad says. “I'm not taking sides. I’m trying to be a good host.”
Branstad has remained neutral in presidential campaigns going back to 1996 when he endorsed Kansas Senator Bob dole.