“He’s a really bright young man and I hope he will stay actively involved in Republican politics,” Branstad said before speaking to the Cedar Rapids Metro North Rotary. “We need people with his background and experience and I think he can help us.”
Branstad, who served four terms as governor, wouldn’t say whether “help” might include having Fong as his lieutenant governor.
“He certainly is one that would be worth considering,” Branstad said about Fong, 32, before quickly adding, “There are many others you would want to look at as well.
Fong, who suspended his campaign last month, would not say if the subject of being Branstad’s running mate came up in his conversation with the former governor.
“It was a wide-ranging conversation on the political landscape,” said Fong, who had not run for elective office until this year. “He was interested in some of the economic development ideas I had cleaned from the campaign trail.”
He called Branstad “gracious” for meeting with him and acknowledged that all of the other candidates for the Republican nomination have indicated they would welcome his support. Fong plans to “support the Republican message,” but hasn’t made a decision on which candidate to support.
Fong, who served on the Generation Iowa Commission, a panel advising state government on strategies for attracting and retaining young Iowans, and Cedar Rapids flood recovery efforts, has been suggested as an ideal running mate for whichever Republican wins the nomination to square-off against first-term Democratic Gov. Chet Culver. His youth, business background as who is managing director of capital markets for AEGON USA, conservative principles and base in vote-rich Eastern Iowa make him an attractive running mate, according to many Republicans.
Branstad seemed to agree.
“He’s got a great background and is certainly very intelligent, very articulate and I think he has a great personal story,” Branstad said, but said it’s too early to be talking about a running mate.
“First of all, I have to win the primary,” he said.