Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is riled about a New Hampshire GOP political operative’s criticism of Iowa Republicans. The brouhaha has brought to the forefront the division in the state between the social and the fiscal conservatives, the Des Moines Register
|Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad: Critic "could not be more wrong about Iowa." (Getty Images Photo)
Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, said the Iowa caucuses are dominated by out-of-touch social conservatives who “wear tinfoil hats.” He suggested that GOP presidential contenders would be better served by skipping Iowa and focusing their attention on states that better reflect America’s economic interests.
Branstad, a social conservative who won the governorship by focusing on fiscal matters, volleyed back that Cullen “could not be more wrong about Iowa.”
"I think the governor is right about that,” said Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at Georgetown University and expert on national presidential campaigns. “I think people are more interested in those issues.”
The rise of the tea party movement shows that many people are upset about economic issues, including government spending, he said.
"The public mood has moved on from those very, very traditional, hard-core conservative social positions," he said. "The people who still think those issues are the dominant ones are a small percentage of the country today."
The economic issues will dominate the 2012 presidential election cycle, Wayne said.
"I do think that, this time around, New Hampshire probably will be more important to the Republicans than Iowa is," he said.
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