The Iowa caucuses are still more than a year away, but last night a parade of potential 2016 presidential candidates appeared in Des Moines Saturday. The all-day event was hosted by Citizens United and Iowa’s Republican Congressman Steve King who opened up the event at Hoyt Sherman Place - a small theater in Des Moines.
"Do you believe that the next president of the United States is going to be speaking to you from this stage today?” King asks to applause. "As do I!"
King is regularly in the national press for comments he makes about illegal immigrants. Just before President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, he took to his twitter account to criticize an unauthorized immigrant seated by the first lady using the term “deportable.” King made an unintentional mention of illegal immigration in his opening remarks.
"We have a vitality that’s unequal on the planet, we come from every possible planet or every possible continent," King says. "They’re across the street those people that come from the other planet.”
King’s referring to a small gathering of so-called DREAMers – those who came to the US when they were children like Monica Reyes, who works at a Credit Union and lives in Waterloo.
"I think I would be a very good citizen. But for some reason he thinks I’m just a deportable and I do not agree with him," Reyes says. "And I want to know if these candidates agree with him or not.”
These protestors made their way into the auditorium shouting and protesting during Former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech. A couple were arrested. But the event didn’t focus on illegal immigration. It was a chance for potential candidates to practice and hone their skills like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
"And I think people like the direction they’re headed, maybe that’s why I’ve won the race for governor three times in the last four years”
Walker’s referencing when he rolled back collective bargaining, faced a recall election and won again last year in his tightest race yet. Texas Senator Ted Cruz talked about having a stronger foreign policy.
"You cannot fight and win a war on radical Islamic terrorism if you’re unwilling to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism," Cruz says. "I would note that the depraved men who flew the planes into the twin towers and the pentagon and into that field in Pennsylvania. They weren’t a bunch of ticked off Presbyterians."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told the crowd he’d seen reports that he might not fit in with the mostly tea party crowd.
“Even more importantly if the values I’m fighting for every day in New Jersey and all across the country are not consistent with your values then why would I keep coming back? I wouldn’t," Christie says. "I do because our values are consistent and we’re fighting together to make this a better country.”
But it was businessman and reality TV Star Donald Trump, who mentioned a few Republicans whose names are often mentioned, but who weren’t in attendance: 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
"So you can’t have Jeb Bush and he’s going to lose aside from that. He’s not going win. So Mitt.. you just can’t have those two.”
Trump says he could do the job as commander-in-chief and he’s seriously thinking about it. The last two Iowa caucus winners were there and sounded like they were pondering another run. Mike Huckabee wouldn’t say why he quit his Fox News show. The last caucus winner, Rick Santorum says his advice for any candidates would be to visit all 99 counties like he did. If many of these speakers are thinking about a run for President, Iowa’s going to be a busy place.