Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley tells Newsmax that the “very fluid” Republican presidential race in his state remains up for grabs just hours before the caucuses begin tonight.
The veteran Republican lawmaker also says any of the six major GOP candidates probably will defeat “one-term president” Barack Obama, whose policies continue to put a damper on the economy.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV today, Grassley explains why he hasn’t endorsed any of the Republican presidential hopefuls.
“It’s a very good crop of candidates, and very difficult to make a choice,” he says.
“This has been different from previous Iowa caucuses, as candidates have risen to the top and then had a dramatic drop. Who would have expected Rick Santorum, who had about 1 or 2 percent in the polls, to rise so rapidly at the tail end?
“It has been much more undecided than in the past. In fact even as you go into tonight, about 40 percent of the people of Iowa going to the caucuses don’t have their mind made up yet. It’s a very fluid situation.
“None of the six do I have any disagreement with, except Ron Paul on foreign policy. But even the foreign policy views of Ron Paul would not stop me from considering him a good prospect for beating President Obama.
“All of these candidates have a good shot at winning because the promises made by Obama have been so great but his product so little.”
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Grassley says he disagrees with Santorum’s assertion that Mitt Romney is an unreliable conservative.
“Politics hasn’t been at the center of Romney’s life except while he was governor of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts is quite a bit different from the rest of the country,” he tells Newsmax.
“He has greatly changed his mind on several key social issues, but I think for a candidate who has found intellectually honest ways of changing his mind about certain issues, you ought to accept that they can do that.
“So he has changed his mind on some things. His positions have evolved, and that’s what makes him look less conservative. I have visited with him and I have great confidence that he’s a conservative candidate.”
Asked whether Santorum’s surge will last beyond Iowa, Grassley responds: “It depends on whether Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich gain ground again. If they do then I think that’s going to detract from Rick Santorum. But I think it could end up being a Rick Santorum-Mitt Romney race probably through Florida.”
Grassley does agree that Newt Gingrich has been victimized by negative political ads from other candidates.
“I don’t know why he’s been a target but I do know that those negative ads have worked. And I believe when he goes to South Carolina, or even in New Hampshire, you’re going to find Gingrich using negative ads, assuming he has the money to do it, because I think he has probably realized that not pointing out the faults he felt his opponents had was a mistake.”
The schism between Obama and Congress is hurting the country, Grassley believes, saying “It takes great presidential leadership to get things done, and if he’s thrown in the sponge on working with Congress, then he is shirking his responsibilities as president.”
Obama has said he has hope for the economy in 2012, but Grassley says the president’s economic policies give Americans “great doubt” rather than hope.
“He has taxed too much, spent too much, regulated too much, and shut down our own production of energy too much. Basically his policies have been one big wet blanket on our economy and a damper on job creation, because all of his policies are anti-entrepreneurial.”
Asked whether Obama will be a one-term president, Grassley declares: “Yes, and he should be.”
Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his staff is conducting an investigation of the Fast and Furious gun-running operation that put weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. California Rep. Darrell Issa also is probing the operation.
Grassley says: “Congressman Issa and I have the same goal, and that is to find out who at the highest level of government, whether it’s [Attorney General Eric] Holder or someone in the White House, authorized this Fast and Furious, and get them fired.”
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